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Susan BlumKeynote Speaker

Susan D. Blum, PhD

Susan D. Blum is a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Her work has explored the fields of cultural, linguistic, and psychological anthropology in her quest to understand the nature of institutional education. She is the editor of the collection Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead) (West Virginia University Press, 2020) and has just completed book three of her education trilogy, Schoolishness: Alienated Education and the Quest for Authentic and Joyful Learning, which will be published in May 2024. The previous two books were My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture (2009) and "I Love Learning; I Hate School": An Anthropology of College (2016), all published by Cornell University Press. She has taught at a range of higher education institutions for thirty-five years.

Keynote Address

Authentic, Joyful, Meaningful Learning in College: Is It Possible? 

Thursday, May 16 @ 9:30 a.m. CST

Humans are characterized by tremendous abilities to learn. They are deeply curious and also gloriously varied. And yet in conventional schooling, both faculty and students often complain about the lack of authentic learning, lack of engagement, and various undesirable “side effects.” In this talk Susan D. Blum introduces a variety of intertwined practices that move students from alienation to authentic learning, building on their innate superpowers, which include curiosity and love of learning.


Exploring "Ungrading" in Assessment and Learning

Wednesday, May 15 @ 2:45 p.m. CST

In this workshop, Susan D. Blum introduces some of the principles behind the growing umbrella of “ungrading” practices—calling into question the centrality of conventional grading practices, which practitioners of ungrading regard as both harmful and unnecessary— to place learning at the center of everything we do. Decentralizing standard grading practices allows us to build on students’ superpowers, which include curiosity and love of learning, and to avoid some of the harms of conventional schooling. Educators have found that these approaches and philosophies lead to greater learning, deeper engagement, and greater equity. Bring your concerns, and we'll workshop at least one assignment together.