Supporting faculty at small liberal arts colleges

Apply for a teaching workshop fellowship at The Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts at Eckerd College.

Cultivating the vocation of liberal arts teaching

Explore teaching identity, pedagogical practices, and student learning at small liberal arts colleges.

Paid travel, accommodations and honoraria

Join a sustained and supportive faculty learning community in a retreat environment.

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Thomas Pearson, Director

Faculty seated at table to discuss teaching in the liberal arts

Invigorate your liberal arts teaching

A world of divisions needs people who can make connections. Problem-centered, purpose-driven, and place-based liberal arts educators are needed now — more than ever.

The Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts at Eckerd College hosts workshops for early-career faculty teaching at small liberal arts colleges in all academic disciplines.

Workshop fellows share interactive group-work and independent exercises in which they review their teaching methods, surface and analyze their assumptions about teaching and student learning, and reflect on their vocation of teaching in their particular small liberal arts college contexts.

Teaching Workshop Fellowship for Early-Career Faculty
Paid accommodations, travel and honorarium
Applications due September 30, 2022

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Online panel: “The Vocation of the Liberal Arts Educator – Now More Than Ever”

Recorded live Sept. 30, 2021
With José Antonio Bowen, Principal, Bowen Innovation Group LLC, Lynn Pasquerella, President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Michael S. Roth, President of Wesleyan University, Connecticut

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Sample curriculum of a Nielsen Center teaching workshop for early-career faculty

About the Nielsen Center

Founded in 2021 through a generous gift from Helmar Nielsen, The Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts at Eckerd College hosts sustained small group conversations among faculty teaching at small liberal arts colleges.

The Nielsen Center honors faculty for their commitment to teaching and the liberal arts. Workshops are designed to create a hospitable, retreat-like space of abundance and aesthetic excellence — providing a revitalizing respite from the culture of scarcity and competition that pervades in the academy today.

Goals of the Center

  • To support and develop faculty committed to exploring the vocation of liberal arts teaching and leaning
  • To support and develop the teaching effectiveness of faculty at small liberal arts colleges
  • To strengthen liberal arts education in small American colleges
Aerial view of Eckerd College in Florida

The Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts instantiates the abiding commitment of Eckerd College to liberal arts teaching and learning. For more than 60 years Eckerd College has been challenging students to “think outside” on our 188-acre campus along Tampa Bay. Take a virtual tour!

Helmar Nielsen

Helmar NielsenA generous gift from Helmar Nielsen has endowed the Center in perpetuity—an expression of his unwavering support of liberal arts education as a process of cognitive, moral, aesthetic, and spiritual growth for students and faculty alike. The Center expresses his belief that the liberal arts requires a unique and intentional collaboration between faculty across the disciplines, as well as careful and sustained attention to the purposes and varied processes of student learning in the liberal arts tradition. Helmar Nielsen is dedicated to the importance of the continued existence and excellence of liberal arts colleges.

A retired executive, Helmar Nielsen joined the Eckerd College Board of Trustees in 1994 and has served the College with his time and generosity ever since. Even after his retirement from the Board in 2021, Nielsen has continued to seek ways to put Eckerd on the map for its innovative approach to the liberal arts.

More about Helmar Nielsen

Helmar Nielsen has funded endowed professorships, scholarships, and programs in various areas at the College, including film studies, the humanities, science and technology, spiritual life, ethics, and faculty development. The Helmar and Enole Nielsen Center for Visual Arts, which opened at Eckerd in 2018, is named for Nielsen and his daughter.

Through his long-time leadership of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board, Helmar came to know many faculty members. Helmar is a member of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (part of the College’s lifelong learning community) and has attended numerous events, lectures, and receptions on campus over the years.

Helmar’s belief in the value of education extends beyond Eckerd: he is a former Trustee of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, the Morehouse School of Religion, and also supports William Jewell College, where he began his own college journey.

Tom Pearson smiling at camera

Thomas Pearson

Dr. Thomas Pearson was appointed the founding director of the Center in July 2021.

An anthropologist of American religious cultures with a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Tom taught at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and for nearly twenty years was Associate Director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion – an organization located on the Wabash College campus and funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. to support faculty teaching religious and theological studies through workshops, grants, and resources.

More about Thomas Pearson

Tom is the author of Missions and Conversions: Creating the Montagnard-Dega Refugee Community (Palgrave, 2009), an analysis of missionary rhetorics adopted by anthropologists and the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

Under Tom’s 15 year editorship, the international peer-reviewed journal, Teaching Theology & Religion developed a signature genre of scholarship on teaching and learning in higher education.