In the high paced, high autonomy world of an academic department, it can be vital for all quarters of a department to have time to consider the big picture – whether the focus is on a long range plan, a curricular revision, or simply a periodic opportunity to develop and enjoy collegiality, collaborations, and investment in a shared endeavor.
An external facilitator brings specific benefits to faculty retreats – or to any faculty gathering that extends beyond the day-to-day business of the department. An external facilitator can add one or more of the following components to a faculty retreat.
- providing planning models and retreat structures that differ from the familiar discussion modes of the department
- helping to identify, organize, and apply relevant contextual variables that should be addressed prior to the retreat or presented as background during a retreat
- dissecting and organizing complex issues in order to achieve productive engagement (rather than getting snarled in knots)
- collecting input, opinions, and perspective prior to the retreat to build the momentum of the retreat discussions in advance
- structuring discussions that are focused, interactive, effective, and energized
- navigating complex group dynamics, communication challenges, and conflicts
- freeing up all members of the department to participate fully in the content work of the retreat
- advising follow up steps and integration
- helping to document discussions, decisions, and other products of the retreat