Teaching and Learning

Brown has established guidelines and resources to support instructors and students engaging in remote teaching and learning.

The 2020-21 three-semester model includes transitioning the majority of Brown courses to online/remote/hybrid instruction to ensure health and safety for all members of the community. Faculty are teaching their usual course load and will be in residence for two terms (though in rare cases they might choose to spread their teaching across all three terms).

All students are given the option to enroll in their courses remotely, whether they are on campus or not, and faculty with health or other concerns have the option to teach, mentor and advise online in the fall and spring terms. If the public health situation does not improve, this option will be extended throughout the summer semester as well.

For the most up-to-date information on the status of in-person instruction on campus, consult the policies currently in effect on the Campus Activity Status page.

Academic Policies for Spring 2021

Amid the pandemic, a revised set of academic policies for the College and Graduate School are designed to support the active participation of both instructors and students during online and hybrid instruction.

Planning Principles

All academic departments have planned their curriculum and course offerings to accommodate the three-term calendar. This planning has been guided by the following assumptions:

  • Courses with 20 or more students will be offered remotely.
  • Most gateway/prerequisite courses will be offered in more than one term to ensure that students can meet concentration and graduation requirements. These courses can be offered online asynchronously and augmented with in-personal recitation/lab sessions.
  • Departments will consider course sequencing to ensure graduation and concentration requirements.
  • Departments will prioritize fulfilling concentration requirements, including capstones.
  • Departments will ensure the availability of service courses and courses that support interdepartmental concentrations.
  • Departments will consider courses that are required for external requirements (e.g. accreditation, pre-med prep).
  • Departments will plan to schedule first-year courses in the spring and summer terms.
  • Departments will develop opportunities (i.e., independent study) for other classes on campus during summer term.
  • Departments will schedule first-year seminars during all three terms in order to make them available online in the fall, prior to first-year students’ arrival on campus, as well as in the spring and summer, when students will be in residence.
  • Departments will offer essential courses for doctoral students in fall and spring to preserve summer for fieldwork/research.

As noted in the assumptions above, all courses with enrollments of 20 or more students are being offered virtually through delivery mechanisms such as Zoom and Panopto. Doing so for these, as well as for courses with smaller enrollments, allows students who cannot come to Providence due to visa restrictions or personal choice to enroll online, and provides faculty who may wish to teach remotely for health or other concerns the ability to do so. In addition, it enables the University to adapt more quickly to changes in public health circumstances, such as short-term stay-at-home orders that might be issued by the state of Rhode Island.

Small-group Sessions

In order to retain interpersonal connections, which are the hallmark of a Brown education, faculty, instructors and teaching assistants conduct small group sessions in-person whenever possible or, in some cases, through a hybrid model of virtual and in-person methods of delivery. A digital teaching and learning subcommittee established by Provost Locke works with all faculty to determine the best methods for remote instruction.

Last updated January 4, 2021. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.