Tribute to Excellence: Through a Photographer's Lens
A photo documentary of teaching & learning at Penn State
Thursday, 9/6/2018, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, University Park

Tribute to Excellence: Through a Photographer's Lens
A photo documentary of teaching & learning at Penn State

Join us at the Nittany Lion Inn Ballroom for hors d'oeuvres and view the photography exhibit. President Barron will offer opening remarks. Provost Jones and Dean Pangborn will be on hand during the event. The photographer, Martin Springborg, will be available to talk about the project, photo-documentaries and photo-essays as a genre and what he and the faculty have learned from the process.

The display shines a spotlight on teaching and learning at Penn State through the lens of a professional photographer who is also a faculty member and an educational developer. Springborg's photo-documentatory tells a story about teaching and learning at Penn State through a series of photographs that capture moments of time in different courses. Each series of photos presents a unique perspective about how teaching and learning happen at Penn State. This documentary work has evolved over time, eventually focusing more sharply on the shared responsibility for student persistence and success through collaborative efforts to improve learning experiences and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. At other institutions, such as CalTech, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, and Brown University, among many others, the photographs have been exhibited in a variety of ways.

The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence commissioned this project in collaboration with faculty and administrators at Penn State Altoona, Berks, DuBois, Harrisburg, Mont Alto, York and University Park.

The Artist

Martin Springborg is a photographer, faculty developer and faculty member in the Minnesota State system of Colleges and Universities. He has worked for more than ten years as a faculty member and as a coordinator of faculty development programs at institutions of higher education. He currently teaches photography and art history and writes about issues related to teaching in Arts courses. One of the subjects he is most interested in is student-faculty collaborative projects and the benefits, both to students and faculty members.

The Project

Martin began the photographic essay, Teaching and Learning, in 2005 while teaching a beginning photography course. He gave his students an assignment: to document, in photographs, their lives and the lives of their peers outside the studio classroom. He also assigned the project to himself. In pursuing this documentary project, he and his students observed and shared the many challenges they all faced in becoming model students and instructors. The result was development of a mutual respect for each other and their workloads. Student photographs depicted the reality of attending multiple institutions, and balancing coursework with employment, home, and what little remained of their social life. Martin's photographs, likewise, opened students' eyes to the many duties faculty have outside the classroom.

As Martin moved on to other positions in faculty development and to teach at other institutions, he continued the project. The images gradually expanded to include staff and administrators as his teaching career began to broaden. This brought to light a vital part of campus work: collaboration. As he continues to work on the project at institutions across the country, the project increasingly focuses on collaboration between the different constituencies within the institutions he visits.