Teaching, Engaging, and Thriving in Higher Ed Series

Series Description

Teaching, Engaging, and Thriving in Higher Ed features compact, practical books about how to thrive as a teacher in higher education, extending outward from a core emphasis on pedagogy to adjacent topics like writing and publishing, balancing the different sides of academic work, and maintaining one’s own mental health. Emphasizing the importance of “books written by human beings,” the series provides a welcome antidote to the dense, jargon-heavy prose more typical of books about higher education. All books in the series have a solid theoretical foundation in the learning sciences and other relevant research frameworks, offer practical strategies for higher education faculty, and provide guidance for further reading and study.

Advisory Board

Tracie Marcella Addy, Lafayette College

Derek Bruff, University of Mississippi

Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Simmons University

Jenae Cohn, University of California, Berkeley

Joshua R. Eyler, University of Mississippi

Kevin Gannon, Queens University of Charlotte

Cyndi Kernahan, University of Wisconsin–River Falls

Guadalupe Lozano, University of Arizona

Viji Sathy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas J. Tobin, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Series Editors

James M. Lang 

Emeritus Professor of English
Assumption University
e-mail James M. Lang

Michelle D. Miller

Professor of Psychological Sciences
Northern Arizona University
e-mail Michelle D. Miller

For more information, or to submit a query, please contact Derek Krissoff, Editor-at-Large

Forthcoming in 2024. Preorder now!

A Pedagogy of Kindness

Catherine J. Denial

Academia is not, by and large, a kind place. Individualism and competition are what count. But without kindness at its core, Catherine Denial suggests, higher education fails students and instructors—and its mission—in critical ways. 

Part manifesto, part teaching memoir, part how-to guide, A Pedagogy of Kindness urges higher education to get aggressive about instituting kindness, which Denial distinguishes from niceness. Having suffered beneath the weight of just “getting along,” instructors need to shift every part of what they do to prioritizing care and compassion—for students as well as for themselves. 

A Pedagogy of Kindness articulates a fresh vision for teaching, one that focuses on ensuring justice, believing people, and believing in people. Offering evidence-based insights and drawing from her own rich experiences as a professor, Denial offers practical tips for reshaping syllabi, assessing student performance, and creating trust and belonging in the classroom. Her suggestions for concrete, scalable actions outline nothing less than a transformational discipline—one in which, together, we create bright new spaces, rooted in compassion, in which all engaged in teaching and learning might thrive. 

Volume 1 in the Teaching, Engaging, and Thriving in Higher Ed series

Catherine J. Denial is Bright Distinguished Professor of American History and Director of the Bright Institute at Knox College. A regular speaker and consultant on teaching and learning, she is also the author of Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country. Find her online at www.catherinedenial.org.

“Girded by science and research but presented in a humane, personable way . . . Reading this book is akin to faculty development for the soul.”

Regan A. R. Gurung

coauthor of Thriving in Academia: Building a Career at a Teaching-Focused Institution

“All too often, kindness is conflated with insipid niceties, polite pretense, or hollow axioms. But, as Denial forcefully demonstrates, it can also be a revolutionary pedagogical practice. Replete with practical advice and actionable teaching takeaways, A Pedagogy of Kindness will make you a believer in the profound power of real kindness in the classroom.”

Jessamyn Neuhaus

author of Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Introverts, Intellectuals, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers