Relationships at the Core of Educational Development
Relationships matter (Felten & Lambert, 2020). At the close of the 48th Annual POD Network Conference, Isis Artze-Vega shared the compelling research and practice work she and colleague Peter Felten have been doing on relationships and connections in the undergraduate experience. As we consider the core mission, vision, and values of POD Network, we look to the four primary tenets she shared in our pursuit to develop an inclusive, constructive, and productive conference for 2024:
- All students must experience genuine welcome and deep care.
- Relationships are a powerful means to inspire all students to learn.
- All students must develop webs of significant relationships.
- All students need meaningful relationships to help them––and to challenge them––to explore the big questions of their lives.
The 49th annual POD Network conference celebrates the pivotal role of relationships within educational development. The success of our students and progress within our institutions are built on the foundations of meaningful connections in our world. As educational leaders, we experience the complex challenges of higher education daily. Addressing those challenges and advancing meaningful change requires the proactive engagement of educational developers who pursue strong partnerships, at various levels within and beyond our institutions, that promote deep learning (Smith et al., 2022).
Within the POD Network, there exists a web of relationships. And just as our pedagogy creates the potential for meaningful relationships, the way we design the experience invites the results (Felten & Lambert, 2020). As a Conference Team, our goal is to create a conference experience that serves to engage our membership and enrich the field of educational development. By centering relationships, we are acknowledging how our interactions and connections lead our work in a multitude of directions. With thoughtful planning, the conference aspires to cultivate a relationship-rich environment where we encounter new ideas, people, and experiences, these relationships engage with those we already have established, and our web or network grows.
The following questions may help you reflect on how relationships are important to your work:
- What relationships are necessary and valuable to our work as educational developers?
- How have relationships enabled you to learn from others or positively influenced your own work in educational development?
- How do we build on our relationships to improve student learning and success?
- Who can we intentionally build relationships with to enhance our work as educational developers?
- What kinds of relationships are effective and productive at moving our work forward?
- How do relationships change over time in the context of our work?
- How might we re-envision our relationships for greater growth, creativity, and innovation?
- How have your relationships within the field of educational development influenced your career and/or work as an educational developer?
- How does the research we conduct as educational developers work in relationship with our practice to define, describe, and guide our work?
As you prepare your proposal, please feel free to explore the application of the theme in creative, unique, and innovative ways.