Innovative Teaching Summer Institute

The Innovative Teaching Summer Institute (ITSI) is a four-day series of collaborative workshops, discussions, and shared reflections all centered on the use of emerging teaching practices and technologies to support effective teaching. ITSI is a unique opportunity for graduate student instructors to work with peers from a variety of disciplines, discuss pedagogical priorities, connect with resources and support, and develop themselves as innovative teachers. Completion of ITSI is certified by CTL and earns priority consideration for CTL fellowships. Program details are below.

Who is ITSI open to?

This program is open to all current Columbia University doctoral students. An upcoming teaching appointment is desirable, but not necessary to participate in the Summer Institute.

When and where will ITSI run?

The Innovative Teaching Summer Institute runs for four days in June, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Its home base is Barnard College’s Diana Center, with workshops running across Columbia’s Morningside campus. 

What happens at ITSI?

The Innovative Teaching Summer Institute offers Columbia University doctoral students the opportunity to work with peers across disciplines to discuss pedagogy, explore emerging technologies, and develop themselves as innovative teachers. This institute is a collaborative endeavor, in which participants openly share work and ideas with each other.

ITSI fosters interdisciplinary discussion of educational paradigms, pedagogical design, and assessment strategies. Once participants have envisioned assignments with specific learning goals, they are introduced to a variety of digital tools and directed to campus and online resources to help them meet these goals. By the end of the Institute, all participants define, revise, and present an innovative assignment that exemplifies their instructional priorities. See pictures from ITSI 2019.

At the conclusion of the Innovative Teaching Summer Institute, participants in all days of activities receive a letter of certifying participation that can be referenced on CVs and other descriptions of pedagogical preparation. Certified participants will have:

  • Attended the complete Summer Institute program and completed short reflective assignments.
  • Developed an innovative assignment to run in a future course, with evolving ideas documented in a series of posts on the Summer Institute website.
  • Participated in discussions at the Institute in which they share their ideas for this assignment.
  • Drafted language that reflects their teaching priorities as exemplified by their innovative assignment developed at the Summer Institute.

In addition to documenting teaching development, full Summer Institute participation qualifies doctoral students for several programs in the CTL:

The Institute is facilitated by the CTL’s Graduate Student Programs and Services team.

Who should I contact for more information?

Should you have any questions about this program, contact

What’s ITSI like? Watch the above video!

ITSI takes a sabbatical

We were not able to offer ITSI in 2020 or 2021, due to COVID-19 disruptions. We look forward to ITSI coming back strong, shaped by experiences and insights gained from teaching online and in hybrid formats. In the meantime, join CTL’s mail list to be alerted about other programs and opportunities for graduate students.

“The biggest thing that impacted me at ITSI was conversation with my peers, and watching other people present their posters and pitch their assignments … seeing the enthusiasm and the love that really goes into people’s teaching and the creative ways in which they hope to make their students equally passionate about what matters to them.”

Christina McGrath

Doctoral Student in the Department of Italian

“ITSI changes your understanding of what teaching can be. People are often thrown into teaching, we don’t always appreciate that it’s a skill you can learn. Having this kind of supportive environment that really allows you to explore and push yourself, [along with] other people doing the same thing, is really inspiring, and it’s a rare experience. Once you go through this, you can then take that experience into your professional life.”

Caitlyn McMahon

Doctoral Student in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health

Past Institutes

June 3 – 7, 2019

2019 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)

June 11 – 14, 2018

2018 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)

June 12 – 15, 2017

2017 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)

June 13 – 16, 2016

2016 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)

June 15 – 18, 2015

2015 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)

June 16 – 19, 2014

2014 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)

June 11 – 13, 2013

2013 Summer Institute site (UNI access only)