Kelsey Visser Helps Faculty Develop Peace and Justice Pedagogy in Community of Scholars — Faculty Highlight

By Wendy Jo Moyer

Kelsey Visser, part-time faculty, New Student Experience and Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) project coordinator and facilitator, is helping our faculty members develop and refine their practice of peace and justice pedagogy through a PJI and Faculty Development course — Community of Scholars.

Kelsey began coordinating the course in spring 2019, following the lead of Professor of Speech and PJI Academic Coordinator Michele Lima, who designed and launched the program in 2017, and Part-time Education Faculty and PJI Academy Coordinator Lauri Lott, who co-facilitated it with her in 2018 — both whom Kelsey credits for her success leading this program today.

The 25-PD hour course offers seven, two-and-a-half-hour sessions on topics, including nonviolence, civil discourse, ways of knowing, sustainability, belonging and connection, and restorative practices. Each session includes advanced reading, an open discussion on the reading and then an active-learning activity to utilize in the classroom.

“What I think is beautiful about the program is that the Peace and Justice Institute started as a reading circle,” Kelsey explained. “That’s how the Principles for How We Treat Each Other came about. With Community of Scholars, we’re going back to our roots to read together and learn together as faculty and peace and justice practitioners.”

As Kelsey facilitates, she continues to learn as well. “I love learning myself, so I feel like every time I read a book, I think of it in a whole new way through the community. That’s the intention of Community of Scholars. We’re all learning and contributing to the learning environment, which is something we want to do in our classrooms too. We are modeling what an inclusive classroom could look like.”

Describing the program as an active — rather than a passive — program for people who want to learn together and build a relationship together, Kelsey added, “If you want to deepen your own understanding of peace and justice and want a solid base of knowledge in the peace and justice field, this program is for you.”

For those faculty who’d like to further develop their skills following Community of Scholars to nurture an inclusive, caring and respectful environment in their classrooms and on campus, they may continue their studies to earn the Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification. Community of Scholars is the first requirement for the 57-PD hour certification, followed by three Faculty Development courses in learning-centered teaching practices and three Faculty Development courses in inclusion and diversity. For a Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification planning document that lists all required courses and electives, click here.

The Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification program culminates with a capstone, which Kelsey also leads. During the capstone, faculty members implement a peace and justice practice in their classroom. Throughout the capstone project, Kelsey meets regularly with the participants regarding their progress and to provide support. At the end of the semester, all participants present their project findings to the capstone cohort, prior to being awarded the Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification.

“It’s amazing to see what some people come up with,” she said. “Some want to redo their whole course, and others will take one discussion post out of the whole semester and really make it focused on the Principles for How We Treat Each Other, civil discourse, empathy or whatever they decide is impactful for their students.”

If you’re interested in participating in Community of Scholars — whether just the 25-PD hour course or to launch your studies for the 57-PD hour Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification — the next cohort will begin Monday, January 20, 2020. Register in the Valencia EDGE by clicking here.

If you have questions about Community of Scholars or the Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification, visit your campus Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation.

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.

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