National SoTL Advocacy – your thoughts?

Thanks to Nicola Simmons for putting together this summary of our discussion about National SoTL Advocacy from our AGM in June!  It will give our members and our new executive some good ideas to discuss and move forward on in the coming year(s).  Speaking of which, don’t forget we are looking for a new vice-chair and secretary – see more here: nominations are due August 20.

Advocating for SoTL in Canada

Nicola Simmons


At the Annual General Meeting at STLHE in Vancouver this June, we discussed SoTL Canada’s role in advocating for SoTL in arenas beyond our individual institutions. The purpose of this blog post is to share the summary of that discussion with you and to also invite your contributions to the conversation.


We began the discussion with some synthesis questions from a forthcoming publication about the history of SoTL in Canada.


  • “How can we, as a national organization, increase SoTL supports and funding, not just institutionally, but at provincial and national levels?
  • How can we, as a national organization, best advocate for SoTL’s recognition as valuable scholarship?
  • If, in five years, we want to have begun to address these challenges, what steps must be taken now? Whom else do we need to invite into the conversation?
  • How can we do these things in ways that acknowledge that most of the work is being undertaken as volunteer endeavours? How can we bring committed volunteers together in synergistic networks for greater impact?
  • How is it, that when we have been outlining for 10 years what needs to be done to move SoTL forward in Canada, we seem to be so slow at doing it? Are we sure we are asking the right questions? Is it simply a question of getting to the ‘tipping point’ (Gladwell 2002)?” (Simmons & Poole, in press)


Our subsequent discussion focused on the purpose of our advocacy: To whom are we advocating, with whom, and about what? What outcomes do we seek? While we didn’t answer these questions fully, they guided our thinking.


  • Connect with AUCC and ACCO (Universities Canada, CICan, Polytechnics Canada) – work with them re: Tri-Council Funding
  • Locate private funding sources (private foundations, but also crowd-sourcing)
  • Create a post graduate diploma accredited by SoTL Canada
  • Link SoTL to Quality Assurance
  • Colleges – moving to inquiry work (perhaps rather than calling it SoTL)
  • Pursue NSF – towards NSERC
  • Recognition of SoTL as research
  • Strengthen connection to CSSHE and ISSoTL

Other ideas were emailed to me following the AGM:

  • Provide a SoTL award; in advocacy terms, might be best traction to award it to the President of the institution that best supports SoTL
  • Provide SoTL sound bites/speaking notes for senior administrators
  • Have an online webinar for ethics boards/faculty about ethics and SoTL with panel from tri-council ethics board and publications. Contact Gary Poole and Ken Meadows for their input. Contact STLHE re: setting up one via STLHE webinar software.
  • Would STLHE consider a new annual award(s) recognizing outstanding SoTL inquiries/initiatives? Perhaps an individual award and a collaboration/team award?
  • Liaise with fledgling organization of AVPs T&L across Canada. Explore whether there is a leadership role for this group in SoTL advocacy
  • Target universities who do grad student training to promote SoTL Canada
  • Create SoTL Canada Advocacy Advisory group/working group

These suggestions represent just the beginning of our brainstorming on this work. Comments? Interested in joining an Advocacy working group? Please email Nicola at

Simmons, N., & Poole, G. (in press; expected December 2015). SoTL in Canada. In N. Simmons (Ed.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in Canada: Institutional impact. New Directions in Teaching and Learning. Jossey-Bass.

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