Thriving in a pandemic

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership faculty, students adapt easily to new learning modalities

September 9, 2020

Students at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University may have entered the school year unsure of what their classrooms would be like, but they quickly realized that their CEL classes would offer not only an environment in which to learn but a place to interact with their peers — albeit slightly more distanced than in years past. 

After a few weeks of a combination of in-person and ASU Sync courses, there is a common theme amongst students and professors: There are challenges, but people are adapting.  Assistant Professor Theresa Smart teaching CEL 100. Download Full Image

“It’s definitely been different than what I was expecting,” said Flannery S., a first-year student and CEL major from Colorado, about her first week. “There’s a lot more time spent in my dorm room. ... A majority of my classes are on Zoom. This is actually one of the classes that I do leave and get to go meet people, so I’ve been enjoying that.” 

Gwyneth C., a first-year student and CEL major from Washington, is taking her first CEL class with Professor Theresa Smart. “... It’s my favorite class. I love the discussions we have. … I was a little nervous about discussion-based classes, but it’s awesome. They are so much fun, so interactive and I feel like I get a lot out of this class — more than a lecture,” said Gwyneth.  

Adam Seagrave, associate professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, found that though there were some technological challenges during the first class, the transition to ASU Sync has gone really well.

“Something that we always emphasize in our courses … in the school is discussion-based learning. We’ve been able to do that despite the dislocation of having some students remote and some in person,” said Seagrave. 

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership offers two undergraduate degrees, a minor and recently launched a new master's degree program. Almost all of its classrooms revolve around the Socratic teaching method, which encourages interaction between the students as well as the faculty, Seagrave said. 

“The word of the day has been flexibility, and we’ve been flexible,” Seagrave said. “We’ve adapted.”

Learn more about the school and its programs. 

Jacey West

Communications program coordinator, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


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The ASU Alumni Association is proud to honor the Sun Devil 100, which celebrates the achievements of ASU alumni who own or lead successful, innovative businesses across the world. Download Full Image