As an educator and developer of educational resources, I am always eager to find new professional development opportunities – ones that make an immediate impact on both what I teach and how I teach. I typically find that continuing education opportunities for industry professionals make excellent continuing education opportunities for educators as well. For example, just-style.com and the American Apparel and Footwear Association offer great (and often free!) webinars on current issues in the global fashion industries. When I was taking students on trips to MAGIC or other trade shows, I attended as many of the professional seminars as possible. One of the best professional development experiences I have had in recent years was successfully completing the Lead Auditor Certification offered through the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP). WRAP is an international “non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane, and ethical manufacturing around the world through certification and education” (WRAP, 2016). WRAP conducts a number of training programs with a focus on ethical sourcing in the global apparel and footwear industries. The audience for the WRAP training programs is typically industry professionals with offerings held throughout the world but mostly outside the United States. However, with funding from several grants (to both me and to the three student participants), Stuart Webster, [then] VP for Education for WRAP conducted the week-long certification program on the Oregon State University campus.
You might be asking – why would a faculty member or students want to be certified as a factory auditor? In fact, neither any of the students nor I were intending to actually become auditors. But what the program provided was not only an amazing overview of social and environmental compliance issues but strategies that fashion brands can take to assure responsible sourcing and production of merchandise -- topics that are relevant to anyone teaching fashion and anyone who is employed by fashion brands! In addition, the format of the program incorporated what I would call “best practices” for classroom teaching with extensive use of active learning teaching strategies such as case studies, team activities, simulations, individual writing, group discussion, short readings with questions, and videos with questions. The program manual was also an excellent teaching guide that I have often referred as both a content and process resource. Aside from carving out a full week during the academic year to devote to participating in this program, the most challenging aspect of the program was the 4-hour essay exam on the last day! It had been some time since I was on the “other end” of an exam and also felt the pressure to being a role model to the students of successfully completing the exam! Whew! Fortunately, I passed the exam with flying colors!
Upon completion of the certification, I partnered with Stuart to develop and systematically assess three learning modules related to corporate social responsibility in factory auditing that could be used in college and university courses. These modules were selected because of their relevance to inclusion in undergraduate courses; i.e., background expertise of undergraduate students. Specific modes of learning (e.g., listening, observation, writing, group discussion) were intentionally integrated into the learning modules to address a variety of student learning styles. The three learning modules were:
As you can see, completing the WRAP Lead Auditor Certification proved to be an amazing professional development opportunity – one that led to improved teaching from both content and process perspectives.
For those who are interested I am happy to share the details of these learning modules (simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you the information.
WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) (2016). About WRAP.
Retrieved from http://www.wrapcompliance.org/en/about-wrap.