Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie (CSU) is currently hosting the 43rd annual Improving University Teaching Conference from June 27-29.
With more than 100 educators from 20 countries in attendance, this is the first time the conference has been held in Australia, and outside a metro location, having previously been held in Israel, England, Slovenia, Hong Kong, South Africa and New Zealand.
The focus of the conference is ‘New Spaces for Learning: Opportunities and Challenges for Innovative Teaching’.
Heather Cavanagh, pro-vice chancellor global engagement said it was a very exciting time at CSU hosting such a prestigious conference.
“Hosting this conference in Port Macquarie is a big deal for us as this is the first time the conference has been held not in a capital city,” professor Cananagh said.
“We have been able to work very closely with the local community having so many people from around the world in town for the three day conference.
“It is also a tremendous honour to have a director from Harvard University here with us.”
She said CSU was picked for its cutting edge approach to learning.
“It is a very important conference and part of the reason we were selected as the host university was that we are Australia’s first carbon neutral university, we have the highest graduate rate and starting salary in the country,” she said.
“We are also unique in that we do not have a single lecture theatre on campus so we are at the forefront of modern teaching which fits very well into the conference theme.”
Professor Cavanagh said conferences like this one is a great opportunity for educators to come together to share strategies about helping students in an era where the jobs they will have aren’t yet created.
“We will be having discussions about recognising that half of the jobs our graduates and future graduates will have don’t exist yet and how do we prepare for that and prepare our students for a career that doesn’t exist yet,” she said.
“There will also be discussions on best practices and forming international links which helps research to go and develops ties with institutions all over the globe.
“This is vitally important as a large number of CSU students have an international experience during their studies so as teachers it is crucial to make those links for our students overseas.”
Jim Wilkinson, director emeritus Derek Bok Center for Teaching at Harvard University and president of the conference said he was excited to bring the conference down under.
“This is the 43rd conference but us being in Port Macquarie is not only the first time we have held the conference in Australia but also in a regional area,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“The three day conference held annually is always around a different theme which looks to bind educators from all over the world and improve university teaching.
“The conference is about people making connections with people all over the world so that they can learn new ways and inspire each other.”
The conference consists of round table discussions, breakfast talks, guest speakers, traditional lecture style talks, a digital showcase and local tours to see the sights.
“I hope delegates at the conference go away with ideas to take back to their home country about how to use their local environments, whether that be taking history students to museums or using local specalised community groups to their advantage to get outside the traditional classrooms,” he said.
“We want to come to places that want us, CSU Port Macquarie, championed by Heather Cavanagh advocated for us to come here and it has been an extremely good collaboration between us and the university.”
“CSU clearly knows how to collaborate, they do it in the local community but also at a teaching level and that has come through in the lead up to the conference.”