The Courage to SoTL




scholarship of teaching and learning, academic identity, collaborative autoethnography, autoethnography, ethics


Using Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach, and in particular the notion of the undivided life, to guide reflections through the process of collaborative autoethnography, we reflect on our lived experiences with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). The central question being: How does Palmer’s idea of the undivided life enable SoTL scholars to explore notions of identity and integrity that are intertwined with our academic practice? Ultimately, we found that Palmer’s insights provoked us to think deeply about our identities, and while perhaps we did not always see ourselves on the paths he illuminates, his work, and our collaborative ethnographic process, helped us to illuminate our own paths. More specifically, we share five themes arising from our collaborative autoethnography related to the importance of context and positionality, defining a SoTL scholar, the power to diminish, the importance of relationships and community, and collaborative autoethnography as method and process. Our stories highlight the need for us to see our community as complex, messy, and deeply human, and we remind readers of the need to think about the ethics of all methods and the power in our everyday practice to include or exclude.


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Author Biographies


Nattalia Godbold is a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of Queensland (AUS).

Dawne Irving-Bell, Edge Hill University

Dawne Irving-Bell is a Senior Learning and Teaching Fellow (Reader) at Edge Hill University (UK).

Jill McSweeney-Flaherty, Dalhousie University

Jill McSweeeney-Flaherty is an Educational Developer in the Center for Teaching and Learning (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning | Classroom Spaces) at Dalhousie University (CAN).

Patrice Torcivia, Harvard University

Patrice Torcivia Patrice is Associate Director at the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (USA).

Lauren Schlesselman, University of Connecticut

Lauren S. Schlesselman is the Director of Learning Initiatives and Educational Technology for the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Connecticut (USA).

Heather Smith, University of Northern British Columbia

Heather Smith is a Professor of Global and International Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia (CAN).


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How to Cite

Godbold, Nattalia, Dawne Irving-Bell, Jill McSweeney-Flaherty, Patrice Torcivia, Lauren Schlesselman, and Heather Smith. 2021. “The Courage to SoTL”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 9 (1):380-94.



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