Intellectual Health

A Year of Wellness & Action is a 2022-2023 academic year initiative at Pacific, inviting employees to focus on one health and wellness theme ever two months. In January and February 2023, we explore intellectual health.

Find information and resources below for your self-guided journey, and add to the conversation by joining Pacific's Wellness Challenges Google Group. (Go to, choose "all groups," then scroll to find the Wellness Challenge and join. Once you've joined, you'll be able to send and receive messages to the group at

There are many ways to develop and maintain our intellectual health, all of which relate to feeding, stimulating, and challenging our brains. The resources below address some aspects specific to the Pacific community as a university — i.e. teaching and learning — as well as more general aspects of our lives. All books linked below are e-books available through the Pacific University Libraries.

Fostering Intellectual Health in the Classroom

Teaching is hard. And, teachers, like endurance athletes, need to train, rest, and challenge themselves to maintain their personal health as well as to flourish in the classroom. The books below provide a starting point to develop these habits and to foster the critical practices essential for growth and renewal in our lives as teachers. 
Parker Palmer’s classic, The Courage to Teach, emphasizes the need for teachers to cultivate their inner selves and to align their personal beliefs with their professional roles. Through this alignment, teachers not only find satisfaction and meaning in their work, but can renew their commitment to the educational mission. Paolo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) and bell hooks (Teaching to Transgress) likewise called for the alignment of the personal with the classroom — but they also argued that the classroom is a space for social justice and that the alignment of belief and practice means that teachers and students perform social change through the act of education. In other words, that pedagogy is at the root of both personal self-actualization as well as foundational to the well-being of the community at-large.
Understanding how one’s personal beliefs align with broader social paradigms, student perceptions, and the needs of the institution, can be difficult to untangle. Stephen Brookfield’s excellent volume, Becoming Critically Reflective Teacher, provides a practical guide to unpacking and categorizing a teacher's paradigmatic beliefs about education and then translating those into classroom practice — practices that will align an educators’ deeply-held beliefs with their pedagogies.
Maryellen Wiemer (Learner-Centered Teaching) and Kathryn Oleson’s (Promoting Inclusive Classroom Dynamics in Higher Education) volumes challenge us to recenter our classroom practice. Their focus on inclusive and student-centered pedagogies requires us to confront our own practices in the classroom and to question whether our educational methods are reaching all students. While they challenge us to interrogate our teaching, they also provide practical steps to ensure we are providing inclusive and engaging learning experiences for our students. As we work to align our teaching with our own identities and beliefs, they provide pedagogically powerful models for vibrant and healthy learning spaces for teachers and students alike.

Spotlight on Local Resources: The Center for Educational Technology and Curricular Innovation

Faculty in Focus: Faculty Teaching Profiles. CETCI’s Faculty Teaching Profiles showcase the excellence and breadth of Pacific educator’s pedagogic practice. Each faculty profile has a brief write-up about the educational methods employed by the faculty member along with a video interview and links for further resources. This is a great place to learn about what your colleagues are doing and to explore new teaching possibilities.

CETCI University-Wide Reading Group. CETCI will be facilitating its first ever University-wide pedagogy reading group beginning this spring. We will be reading, What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching, by Tracie Marcella Addy, Derek Dube, Khadijah A. Mitchell and Mallory SoRelle.

The book presents compelling models for inclusive teaching — educational practices that help instructors create learning environments where all students can succeed as their authentic selves — and offers practical research-based advice and methods that can be incorporated into classes across disciplines. The reading group will meet six times during the semester and will have supporting materials available online. Sign up for the kick-off meeting.

CETCI Pedagogy After-hours. At the Pedagogy After-hours series, Pacific faculty discuss how they have implemented effective pedagogic strategies into their classrooms and teaching. These lively lectures occur twice a semester in the reading room in the Tran Library at 5 p.m. with wine, snacks, and other beverages for participants. Spring sessions are:

CETCI Winter Teaching Institute. The CETCI Winter Institute will introduce participants to fundamental course design principles and basic teaching methods over two afternoons of activities and workshops. Participants will be taken through structured exercises where they will develop course and unit-level outcomes, various assessment measures, and engaging learning activities. Participants will also receive practical tips and advice on common teaching topics such as deciding which technologies to use, how to create an effective syllabus, and ensuring that a course is inclusive and accessible. The Institute will be held on Jan. 18-19. Sign up here.

Fostering Intellectual Health at Home

There are many students in the Pacific community who are not (yet?) Pacific students — the children of Pacific faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in their own journeys of intellectual discovery. The U.S. Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center offers useful guidance on fostering intellectual health in children as part of a series of evidence-based resources (and we have our own experts at Pacific in the Early Learning Community, who have built a curriculum thoughtfully designed to engage and empower younger learners).

Whether you are looking for ways to engage curiosity (yours or a child’s) or opportunities for children to learn through play, local public libraries are an excellent place to not only find books and movies, but also programs and services — not only for children, but for learners of all ages and stages. Pacific is part of several communities in Oregon that have strong public libraries; check out the event calendars for libraries near our campuses:

Now that the Pacific University Libraries are part of the Oregon Library Passport Program, you can show your Boxer card at any participating library — public or academic — throughout the state and be set up with an account to check out materials.

Fostering Our Intellectual Health in the World

More than ever, curiosity about the world around us and our desire to learn have to be paired with a critical evaluation of the information we consume. This is part of information literacy, which is related to digital literacy, media literacy, even health literacy — all of which touch on our ability to successfully navigate and assess the knowledge environments around us that we engage with every day. 

From being confronted with conspiracy theories and misrepresented statistics to the ways that algorithms influence what information we see at all, our intellectual integrity and health require constant care. The resources below can help us understand how to critically engage with the information we encounter (and to realize what we’re not encountering, and why).