Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL)

The Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL) exists to share institutional, structural, pedagogical, curricular, and co-curricular practices in student-centered learning..

The Consortium was initially supported with a substantial grant in 2001 from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education. The founding members -- Alverno College, The Evergreen State College, Fairhaven College of Western Washington University, Hampshire College, New College of Florida, Pitzer College and Daemen College – have grown into a self-supporting organization of 13 institutions. New members include Berea College, Gallatin School of Individualized Study of NYU, Johnson C. Smith University, New Century College of George Mason University, Prescott College, and Malboro College.

The membership of the consortium reflects an important but fragile strain of progressivism in American higher education, which the consortium itself seeks to nurture. The member institutions share an educational philosophy focused around interdisciplinary, student-centered, experiential, reflective practice. They value experimentation and change, and their collaboration through the Consortium enables mutual support, sharing best practices, and outreach to the higher education community. The sustained interactions that the Consortium makes possible help to legitimize and disseminate innovations, promote faculty development, and create opportunities for student networking. Students and faculty at all the member schools are eligible for an array of exchanges for academic work, research, and professional development.

The Consortium’s website,, promotes communication among the members and serves as a resource for the higher education community.

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Each Spring, CIEL holds an undergraduate research symposium at a CIEL member campus. The symposium is designed to provide students with rich opportunities for formal presentation and engagement with peers the practice of scholarship – to teach them about the academy’s role in knowledge-making by providing venues to engage in it actively.

The second annual symposium was held at Pitzer College in March of 2006. In April of 2005, CIEL held the first annual undergraduate research symposium at New College of Florida in Sarasota.

The Third Annual Spring CIEL Student Spring Symposium was hosted by Johnson C. Smith University on March 30 and 31, 2007. Four Pitzer students and Pitzer College CIEL coordinator Kebokile Dengu-Zvobgo attended the conference.