Partnership is a way of being.
It is a mindset and a mode of engaging premised on respect for what all participants contribute and on a commitment to the co-creation of learning and teaching, curriculum, scholarship, and institutional structures.
When students, faculty, staff, and others work as partners, both processes and outcomes have the potential to be equitable, inclusive, and empowering for all involved.
Alison Cook-Sather, Ph. D.
Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education at Bryn Mawr College and
Director of the Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges
more than 100 presentations and workshops
over 100 articles, book chapters, essays, and blog posts and 9 books
at over 80 institutions in 15 countries or regions of the world
The Challenges, Movement, and Future of Pedagogical Partnership
Excerpts from videos created by Samuel Suresh, student partner at Western Sydney University, Australia.
Shot at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands.
Students as Learners and Teachers (SaLT)
I developed SaLT, the signature program of the Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, in collaboration with faculty, staff, and student colleagues.
Conceptualized in 2006, SaLT was piloted in 2007 with support from a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and has been sustained since then with the support of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.
SaLT launched with a focus on supporting faculty members working with student consultants of color to develop more culturally sustaining practices (see article here). It has maintained a focus on developing equitable and inclusive learning environments and pedagogical approaches. See discussions here and here.
SaLT and many programs like it focus on how pedagogical partnership can support faculty and student partners in redressing the harm experienced by students underrepresented in and underserved by higher education.
I have co-authored with student partners and faculty colleagues numerous guides for developing pedagogical partnership programs like SaLT. See a list of several of these resources here. You can also download Pedagogical Partnerships: A How-to Guide for free, and you can find detailed guidelines linked to that book here.
Roots of Pedagogical Partnership
Arenas of Pedagogical Partnership
Are you looking to develop pedagogical partnership to
* support your teaching?
* design or redesign curriculum?
* launch a campus-wide program?
* engage in scholarship of teaching and learning?
I plan keynotes, workshops, and consulting in dialogue and collaboration with you to fit your context and participants.
Visit the section below called "Arenas of Pedagogical Partnership" for detailed descriptions of opportunities to explore and develop partnership teaching, curriculum design or redesign, campus-wide program development,
and scholarship of teaching and learning.
Keynotes, workshops, and consulting focused on pedagogical partnership in support of teaching draw on a range of examples of pedagogical practices, such as assessment, steps to take in affirming and revising inclusive and equitable practices, and outcomes experienced by faculty and student partners.
Keynotes, workshops, and consulting focused on curriculum draw on a range of definitions of curriculum, scholarship such as a chapter in Re-imagining Curriculum: Spaces for Disruption on transforming curriculum development through co-creation with students, and approaches to curriculum design and redesign undertaken before, while, and after courses are taught.
Examples of Partnership Principles in Practice
Artwork by Cindy Chea, Bryn Mawr College, Class of 2022
I co-created "Exploring and Enacting Transformation in Higher Education" (formerly "Advocating for Diversity in Higher Education") with Crystal Des-Ogugua (Bryn Mawr College Class of 2017) through a semester-long process.
It is co-facilitated every year by a faculty member and an undergraduate BIPOC student.
Assignments and assessments are co-created in partnership between the co-facilitators and all enrolled students.
and student-designed assignments to foster belonging.
Department Level: Co-creation of New Major in Education Studies
In the fall of 2022, I worked in a semester-long, .5-credit, independent study with eight undergraduate students
to conceptualize and propose a major in Education Studies.
“…there weren’t just student voices being listened to, but rather we were the voices creating the major.
We...were able to directly put our ideas and thoughts into this proposal.”
- Claire Ford, Bryn Mawr College Class of 2025
“As students, we knew what the needs are for the major, and we tried our best to make sure
those were addressed.” - Joanna Gu, Bryn Mawr College Calss of 2023
Cross-institutional Pedagogical Partnership
Collage of photos by Justin Hayworth, Grinnell College
A two-day workshop for 50 participants from across colleges and universities, this gathering fostered conversation among those who are experienced with and those who are curious about developing pedagogical partnership approaches.
"These two days have been magical, restorative, and deeply meaningful." - Workshop Participant
Intra-institutional Partnership: Pedagogy Circle for BIPOC Faculty
Artwork by Kaylyn (Kayo) Piper Stewart, Bryn Mawr College Class of 2023
Building on Pedagogy Circles for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, this is “an intentionally intimate and holistic space in which faculty with similar experiences and concerns could talk deeply and intentionally with students about systemic inequities and how classroom culture and course content might be experienced by students during this time.” - Cook-Sather et al., 2023, p. 70
and Journals that Feature Partnership Work
I am available to lead book groups or reading circles on any of these texts.
These are typically multi-session, virtual, interactive discussions.
"This was such a powerful experience. I am regularly integrating insights and ideas from the group into my work and student interactions." - Participant in discussions of Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership
Click here for a list of my publications
Click here for a 90-second video explanation of
Co-Creating Equitable Teaching and Learning.
I have experience serving as an editor for all of these journals.
"Yale University’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning launched its Pedagogical Partners program in the spring of 2020, inspired by
Dr. Alison Cook-Sather’s long-standing and excellent SaLT program and her visit to our campus sharing her work.
With over 50 student and faculty partnerships across six semesters, we have benefited greatly from Alison’s experience and generosity. Student partners share that our program gives them a significant voice in their learning while instructors share that it makes their teaching better and opens channels to their students to understand what they need and how they are doing.
More recently, we are grateful to Alison for her continued support—reading her book, Pedagogical Partnerships: A How-To Guide, and meeting with her for a consultation. As our program has developed with her helpful guidance, we appreciate and recognize her systemic work to build pedagogical partnerships at colleges and universities around the world."
–Dr. Julie McGurk, Director of Faculty Teaching Initiatives at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Yale University
"I was thrilled when Alison Cook-Sather agreed to facilitate a workshop on pedagogical partnerships as this was a wonderful opportunity
for members of our core community to learn about designing and implementing student-faculty partnerships to improve practice.
The bonus was getting to know Alison. She helped us conceptualize a project engaging four student-faculty teams from four institutions in piloting a pedagogical partnership, willingly shared resources, and provided guidance as we moved this work forward.
Alison is unique. She is sought-after based on her expertise, but it is her humanity that I find most impressive.
She has remained in contact well past the initial workshop. Her creativity, enthusiasm, and professional insight are evident through her commitment to supporting our pedagogical partnership initiative well past the initial workshop. This demonstrates her ongoing
commitment to education and her passion for equitable practices."
- Dr. Patricia Alvarez-McHatton, Senior Vice President, Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED)
"Alison [Cook-Sather] was initially a consultant in the design and implementation of our student-faculty partnership program at FGCU, and we modeled our program on the SaLT program she facilitates at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. Beyond that, though, she has become a valued collaborator, and she has helped me establish and maintain a scholarly approach to our partnership work at FGCU. Even after our formal consulting relationship concluded Alison continued to inquire regularly about our partnership program, offer our students and faculty opportunities to publish about their partnership work, and encourage me to disseminate information about our program. Her guidance and support have been instrumental in the success of our program, which has supported 57 faculty members and 40 students in partnership with one another in the first three years of the program."
- Bill Reynolds, Director, Lucas Center for Faculty Development, Florida Gulf Coast University
"Amherst College established a pedagogical partnership program in 2019, and Alison’s mentorship of our leadership team, guidance for faculty and student participants, and willingness to support us as we navigated just-in-time processes has been critical to the success of our program. To kick off the first year of our Pedagogical Partnership Program (P3), Alison provided a fantastic workshop for our entering faculty partners which served to ground them in the literature and frameworks of partnership, encouraged them to invest in meaningful and open relationships with their student partners, and helped them build community among each other."
- Riley Caldwell-O’Keefe & Sarah Bunnell, Center for teaching and Learning, Amherst College
"Having read Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching, my colleagues and I invited one of its co-authors, Dr. Alison Cook-Sather, to run a multi-day workshop with us to explore the concept of student-faculty pedagogical partnership in 2016. We were so inspired and learned so much from her, that we decided to design our own program. We retained Dr. Cook-Sather as a consultant during those early years to advise and talk through challenges. The program has evolved, but it continues to this day thanks to the experience, guidance, and ongoing encouragement that Dr. Alison Cook-Sather provided and continues to share with us."
- Floyd Cheung, Former Director of the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning, Smith College, USA
"The Pedagogic Partnership in Israel started at Kaye Academic College of Education four years ago. We contacted Dr. Alison Cook-Sather early in the planning stages, and very generously, she has agreed to be our mentor for the process at Kaye College. Beyond providing us with useful information and good advice, Alison agreed to cross the ocean and come to Israel to closely guide faculty and students and to respond to the issues that came up during our initial experiences with Pedagogic Partnership. Academic dissemination of our experience with pedagogical partnership was important to us in order to create local academic knowledge. Here also, Alison has kindly agreed to comply with our request to accompany our writing process towards the publication of our insights. A ‘partner’ in Hebrew means a ‘close friend’, and Alison is indeed a close friend to the pedagogical partners at Kaye College in Israel."
- Dr. Lea Kozminsky, President, and Dr. Liron Shokty, Head of the English Department, Kaye Academic College, Be-er Sheva, Israel
"The Pedagogical Partnership Program at Lahore University of Management Sciences was the first initiative of its kind in Pakistan. Although faculty and student collaborative work was a longstanding tradition at the university, the partnership program was different primarily because of the nature of relationship it espoused between faculty and students. This relationship based on equal value of the contributions by both partners challenged the traditional hierarchical status between faculty and students. Another challenge was the focus on teaching and learning itself in this research-intensive university. As we fumbled with ideas to introduce the program that was responsive to contextual realities, Alison Cook-Sather’s work became our chief source of inspiration and guidance. Especially her co-authored book, which Pedagogical Partnerships: A How-To Guide for Faculty, Students, and Academic Developers in Higher Education literally served as a step-by-step guide to not only implementing the program but also to navigating our way through issues that needed to be tackled in relation to the making and breaking up of partnerships. Equally helpful has been her work on threshold concepts in academic development that now guides our current research to evaluate the impact of the programme on growth mindsets. Her more recent work around inclusivity and partnerships and her co-authored book Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnerships set examples for help[ing] us to move towards creating equitable and democratic spaces in higher education."
- Tayyaba Tamim, Faculty Co-Lead, Pedagogical Partnership Programme, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
Institutions at which I have supported the development of pedagogical partnership work:
Amherst College | Berea College | Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED) | Brandeis University | Bridgewater State University | Clarkson University | Colby College | Colgate University | College of William & Mary | Community College of Philadelphia | Emmanuel College | Florida Gulf Coast University | Grinnell College | Hong Kong Baptist University |
Kaye Academic College (Israel) |Lafayette College | Lahore University of Management Sciences (Pakistan) | Lewis & Clark College | Massey University (Aotearoa/New Zealand) | McGill University (Canada) | McMaster University (Canada) | Muhlenberg College | Oberlin College | Purdue University | Reed College | Smith College | Syracuse University | T.A. Marryshow Community College (Grenada, West Indies) | The Hague University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands) | Trinity University | Tufts University | University of Denver | University of Minnesota Duluth | University of Padua (Italy) | University of Scranton | University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | University of Tsukuba (Japan) | University of Virginia | Uppsala University (Sweden) | Ursinus College | Vassar College | Wellesley College | Widener University | Yale University
Mentions in the Media
The Chronicle of Higher Education
At the invitation of Ian Wilhelm of The Chronicle, Alison Cook-Sather participates on a panel called "How to Design Learning for Student Success." Listen to the panel discussion...
Stanford University Graduate School of Education Newsletter
"Early in her career as a teacher educator, Alison Cook-Sather realized a serious flaw at the heart of the classical model of education..."
The Chronicle of Higher Education
[Tony Jack, author of The Privileged Poor] "pointed to the Students as Learners and Teachers Program at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, in which students are paid to help faculty members create more inclusive, equitable approaches to teaching ..." Read more...
The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Students as Learners and Teachers, or SaLT, has been around since 2006, but the pandemic, along with the social-justice movements of the past year, spurred participants at Bryn Mawr and nearby Haverford College to compile recommendations for instructors on topics such as equitable assessments, antiracist pedagogy, and remote learning..." Read more...
"Institutional leaders are making critical decisions about how to teach their students in complex and novel times....However, even with all of this deliberate preparation, students have been almost completely absent from our planning and preparation...." Read more...
Times Higher Education
"Step inside many classes at Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr College and you will find that academics and undergraduates enrolled on the course in question are not the only ones in the room. Often, there is a “student consultant” too: a student who is not taking the module but is there to focus on the design and delivery of the curriculum..." Read more...
The Tufts Daily
"...Inspired by the one [pedagogical partnership program] at Bryn Mawr [College], Impastato and Topper reached out to Alison Cook-Sather, a renowned scholar and a leader in the field of student-faculty partnership programs..." Read more...
Alison Cook-Sather Bio
PASSIONS AND COMMITMENTS
My lifelong passion for the arboreal and the rhizomatic — each with root masses that support spreading forms of growth —
is captured in the images I have chosen for this website. The many manifestations of under- and above-ground growth, different across seasons, embody the way of being I am committed to embracing: always growing as part of a community, even while standing as an individual. Such a commitment requires attentive presence, deep listening, and serious engagement in both reflection and dialogue. My passions are for being—with and for, as part of a collective and as a responsible individual.
EDUCATION, RECENT APPOINTMENTS, & SELECTED AWARDS
1996 Ph.D., Education, University of Pennsylvania.
Honors: Merit Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania (1991-1993)
1987 M.A., English Education, Stanford University.
1986 B.A., English Literature, University of California at Santa Cruz.
Honors: Highest Honors in the Major (1986)
College Honors (1986)
The National Dean’s List (1985-86)
Chancellor’s Undergraduate Award (1985)
2006-present Director, the Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. Design and facilitate professional development opportunities through which faculty members at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges work in pedagogical partnerships with undergraduate students.
2013-present Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education, Bryn Mawr College
Summers, 2011-2015 Jean Rudduck Visiting Scholar, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England
2022 Stanford University Graduate School of Education Alumni Excellence in Education Award
2020 POD Innovation Award finalist for “Undergraduate Students Partnering With Faculty To Develop Trauma-Informed,
Anti-Racist Pedagogical Approaches During Covid-19 Times.” Recognizes Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network members who have developed and implemented creative ideas for educational development.
2012 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Outstanding Reviewer Award.
For outstanding contribution to AERA’s journals.
2001 Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award, Bryn Mawr College. An award given to faculty members who have made a distinctive difference in the teaching climate of the College in such areas as model classroom teaching, campus leadership, pioneering teaching methodology, creative course development, and/or instructional support.