Spring 2016

The Academic Roundtable for Spring 2016 has the following events scheduled so far. Please check back in the coming weeks for additional events.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

12:15 PM,  Library 105B

Rest, Contemplative Computing, and Creativity: A conversation with Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The stressors of academic life take their toll on our well-being, but could those stressors, and a lack of rest and contemplative practice, also be impacting our creativity, productivity, and pleasure in life?

In this Academic Roundtable, Dr. Amy Collier, Associate Provost for Digital Learning, will host an informal conversation with guest speaker Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of The Distraction Addiction and a forthcoming book called Rest: Why Working Less Gets More Done. They will discuss the importance of rest and contemplative practice in our daily lives, whether we are checking email, writing a research paper, teaching a class, or at home with our families and friends. Through an interactive conversation, Dr. Pang will provide tips for prioritizing and reaping the benefits of more rest, and strategies for managing technology’s interruptions using mindfulness techniques.

Join us for this important roundtable and bring your own questions for Dr. Pang.

Dr. Pang will also be giving talks during his visit to campus.

On Monday February 22 at 4:30 in Library 105 he will talk on Rest: Why Working Less Gets More Done

On Tuesday February 23 at 7:30 PM in Wilson Hall Contemplative Computing” 

For those who may want to read ahead of time, here are some relevant articles and websites:


On the topic Contemplative Computing, you can start by looking at his website
and then read either or both of these
On the topic of rest , you might read an interview with him from the Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/13/how-charles-darwin-used-rest-to-be-more-productive-and-how-you-can-too/
His book on contemplative computing is called “The distraction addiction” while his forthcoming book on rest is called “REST: HOW WORKING LESS GETS MORE DONE” and will be published by Basic Books.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

12:15 PM, Center for Teaching, Learning & Research

Advising at Middlebury: Challenges, Opportunities, Ideas

A few years ago, Richard Light, a leading scholar on American higher education, stated that “good advising may be the single most underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience.”  And yet, there is evidence that academic advising at Middlebury and many other liberal arts colleges is not as robust as it could be.   At the outset of this Academic Roundtable, members of the Academic Administration will briefly share evidence that points to challenges for Middlebury’s advising system and will present some initial ideas for how we might improve the experience of advising for both students and faculty.  The heart of the roundtable will be a discussion of what steps we can take to ensure that good advising remains a central feature of the Middlebury experience.

As with all Academic Roundtables, lunch will be provided.  RSVP to Doreen Bernier via email at dbernier@middlebury.edu by noon on Friday, March 4, 2016.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Library 105B, 12:15-1:30 PM

Print or Digital? College Students, Reading, and Academic Libraries, Naomi Baron, American University (via Skype)

People have been reading on computer screens for several decades now, predating the popularization of personal computers and widespread use of the internet. But it was the rise of eReaders and tablets that caused digital reading to explode. In 2007, Amazon introduced its first Kindle. Three years later, Apple debuted the iPad. Meanwhile, as mobile phone technology improved and smartphones proliferated, the phone became another vital reading platform.

In this roundtable, Naomi Baron, a linguist from American University and an expert on language and technology, will talk with us about how technology is reshaping our understanding of what it means to read. While reading onscreen has many virtues, including convenience, potential cost-savings, and the opportunity to bring free access to books and other written materials to people around the world, she argues that the virtues of eReading are matched with drawbacks. Users are easily distracted by other temptations on their devices, multitasking is rampant, and screens coax us to skim rather than read in-depth.

Drawing upon her research, Baron will bring the conversation about “the fate of reading in a digital world” to the realm of college students, teaching, and academic libraries. We look forward to a frank discussion that weighs economic (and space) realities with issues of intellectual development and depth.

For those interested in reading ahead of the meeting, you can read her July 2014 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education “How E-Reading Threatens Learning in the Humanities” at http://chronicle.com/article/How-E-Reading-Threatens/147661/

We also plan to form a reading group to discuss her recent book “Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World” after her talk. If you would like to join this group, please sign up at http://bit.ly/wordsonscreenbookgroup .

As with all Academic Roundtables, lunch will be provided.  RSVP to Doreen Bernier via email at dbernier@middlebury.edu by noon on Friday, April 15, 2016.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

12:15 PM, Center for Teaching, Learning & Research

Stress and the Student Experience

There has been much discussion on Middlebury’s campus about student stress, but little data to inform these conversations. Students in Svea Closser’s ethnographic research methods classes conducted and analyzed interviews with their peers about their experiences with stress. Their findings complicate simple narratives about workload, and suggest that syllabus tweaks are unlikely to make substantial impacts. In this roundtable, students will present the results of their research on the drivers of student stress, and leave the floor open for faculty to discuss potential ways forward.