What does it mean to be a part of a healthy and engaged community? That was the question that the theme of this year’s teach-in aimed to answer. On Friday, February 21, Keene State College hosted its fourth annual teach-in event. The teach-in consists of a series of lessons, lectures, activities and tutorials that happen all across campus throughout the day that connect back to the chosen theme.
The teach-in was organized collaboratively by Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dottie Morris, Dean of Mason Library Celia Rabinowitz and Executive Assistant for the Office of the Provost Kim Harkness. KSC President Melinda Treadwell kicked off the teach-in with a discussion around the Keene State value statement, which lays out the importance of the free exchange of diverse perspectives on a college campus.
“My role was to first and foremost say it’s really important and that we should be doing this, we should engage across a lot of conversations,” Treadwell said. “My role today was to launch the session with a discussion of our value statement and to sit it in on as many sessions as I could. It’s nice to feel a sense of community conversation that’s not structured.”
The actual planning for the teach-in began back in November, according to Rabinowitz. When it came to picking the topic, Morris said it was important to make sure that it felt inclusive to everyone across the community.
“We had to make sure the description spoke to everyone, from people in music to people in the counseling center,” Morris said.
Morris also said their hope for those attending the teach-in was that everyone would walk away with a sense of community, as well as some new ideas and skills.
“I’m hoping people meet new people that they didn’t know were in the community and develop deeper relationships with them, or desire to,” Morris said. “We have really dynamic and amazing faculty, staff and students right here on campus. We have a couple people who are alums coming back to present with faculty members they had while here. That helps send the message of, ‘once you’re a part of this community, you’re always a part of the community.’ It’s not just physical space on 229 Main Street, it’s the experiences you had that tie back in and the memories you take with you.”
Rabinowitz also said that the teach-in aims to get people interacting with those they may not meet in their typical, everyday routine. The teach-in was also bring your own lunch, titled ‘CommUNITY BYO Lunch,’ but had desserts offered in the Mabel Brown Room.
“A lot of the time we’re thinking about how we could encourage settings that are interactive for the whole community and would get people interested and engaged,” Rabinowitz said. “Food is just another great way to create community.”
The teach-in hosted many different kinds of sessions. There was a community walk and talk, where people gathered to walk around campus and talk about being a healthy and engaged community, as well as a cooking lesson held in the Dining Commons. There were also multiple lectures given relating to racism, the global climate crisis and nature, among many other topics.
“What I love about the teach-in itself is it feels like an ‘unconference’ to me,” Treadwell said. “It’s a place where people can bring ideas, stand them up quickly and get community members from around campus involved.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at