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Teaching with the Smithsonian

Addressing 21st-Century Challenges in the College Classroom


Smithsonian castle building on the mall in Washington, D.C.
An EdEx course developed in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and Montgomery College


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This course encourages educators to engage students with the Smithsonian Institution’s experts and collections (both tangible and digital), as they follow Montgomery College-Smithsonian Faculty (MCSF) Fellows on their virtual 2021 series, “Addressing 21st-Century Challenges.” The course offers three main threads, including lectures with Smithsonian experts and educators, replicable classroom activities using Smithsonian images and artifacts, and testimony from former MCSF Fellows describing ways they employ museum pedagogy and artifacts to engage and empower students while exploring the complex challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, social justice and pandemics. This course is adaptable for high school, community college, and college audiences.

The interdisciplinary Fellowship, established in 1998 by Montgomery College’s Paul Peck Humanities Institute, trains community college faculty to learn about Smithsonian content as an entry point to consider crucial issues from multiple perspectives. During the year-long Fellowship, each participating professor designs a theme-based project for their classroom that meets course objectives, while creatively employing museum content and pedagogy. MC Fellowship professors have found their students to be far more sophisticated and capable as a result of engaging in assignments that integrate coursework with research and museum learning as well as deeply appreciative of the riches the Smithsonian offers them for free.