The Phi Kappa Phi national honor society has awarded Longwood University its biennial Excellence in Innovation Award for the Brock Experiences program. Longwood has had a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi since 1972. Longwood’s application featured the innovative pedagogical work of faculty involved in the Longwood@Yellowstone program and in other Brock Experience courses.

In summer 2022, four Brock Experience courses traveled: Yellowstone, Alaska, Arizona, and San Francisco. 89 students participated in the four courses; 41 of those students traveled to Yellowstone. Fourteen faculty, four staff members, and three embedded partners supported the students’ explorations. The Chesapeake Bay Brock Experience operated as a faculty development institute with four faculty participating. Three new ideas for Brock Experience courses came from this as well as the idea to create a public facing professional development institute for faculty from other universities.

The founding Brock Experience, Longwood@Yellowstone (2006-2019, 2022), has had a widespread impact in its 15 years as a program:

  • 459 Longwood students (and two Fort Lewis College students) from across the majors in all three colleges (CBE, CCCAS, and CEHHS) have participated in the program.
  • 31 Longwood members of the Longwood community have participated. That number includes 19 instructional faculty from 16 different disciplines; 4 staff members from the Greenwood Library; 2 from the Cormier Honors College; and 6 from Advancement, Student Affairs, Public Relations and the Board of Visitors.
  • 6 faculty members from other institutions have participated (East Carolina University, Fort Lewis College, University of South Florida, and Truman State University).

In addition to facilitating experiences for students in the Brock courses, some faculty and staff members have developed a collaborative community of practice that has expanded the outcomes of these programs to include meaningful scholarly work. Faculty and staff members from the Alaska, Borderlines, Chesapeake Bay, Colorado River, and Yellowstone programs have developed the Field Immersion Framework, a pedagogical scaffold that can be applied broadly to engage students in exploring deeply key challenges in their local communities and in American democracy more broadly. The framework, which was featured in Longwood’s application as a key outcome of the Brock Experiences efforts, was published this summer in the Journal of Transformative Education (

The authors of that framework and article are JoEllen Pederson, associate professor of sociology; Heather G. Lettner-Rust, professor of English; Alix D. Dowling Fink, professor of biology; Mark L. Fink, associate professor of biology; Ann Renee Gutierrez, associate professor of Spanish; Edward L. Kinman, professor of geography; Phillip L. Poplin, professor of mathematics; Melissa C. Rhoten, professor of chemistry; Brent S. Roberts, dean of the Greenwood Library; and Jessi Znosko, senior director in the Cormier Honors College. Connie Koski, formerly an assistant professor of criminal justice studies who now teaches in South Dakota, and Michael J. Mergen, formerly an associate professor of photography who now works in Philadelphia, were also co-authors on the article.

Among Phi Kappa Phi’s expectations of competitive applications is the inclusion of evidence of the impact of the innovation. To demonstrate the impact of the Brock Experiences, Longwood provided details of more than a dozen scholarly publications that describe the programs and outline the diffusion of the Brock Experiences model to other programs on campus. These ranged from publications from a University of South Florida doctoral dissertation that examined student learning in Yellowstone to an article focused on the adaptation of the Chesapeake Bay experience to a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen in the National Science Foundation-funded LIFE STEM Scholars program.

The award application also featured the Civic Issues Framework, a tool used in Brock professional development for faculty. That framework was developed by the Brock Curriculum Advisory Group, which included Josh Blakely, director of the Brock Experiences program; Jennifer Beach, research and instructional services librarian and associate professor of library science; Adam Franssen, associate professor of biology and assistant director of CAFE; Edward Kinman, professor of geography; Melissa Rhoten, professor of chemistry; and Carl Riden, associate professor of sociology.

The Phi Kappa Phi cash award of $100,000 will be used to broaden student support and accessibility to the Brock Experiences. For the 2022-2023 academic year, the Brock Experiences will be focusing on access and affordability of the programs by exploring new models of course delivery and scholarship support.