Focusing on design and facilitation of learning, Raymer teaches community-engaged courses in Adult & Leadership Education; directs CLASP; and supports learning cities, capacity-building, organizational change, faculty development and instructional design.
My inquiry in the world is attentive to public process and public realm as the avenues, agreements and terms we negotiate amongst ourselves as a society. I seek ways of making those processes and environs more accessible, inclusive, meaningful, user-friendly and reflective of the fact that we live in a finite biosphere. In particular, I am interested in uncovering the Theory of Change, implicit or espoused, which informs the design of policy and place.
Spaces of embodied democracy, particularly the pedestrian public realm of everyday life, is one area of interest. If we no longer traverse any ground other than commercial, private territory in the course of our daily rounds, what happens to public life and our sense of people as human beings and citizens? The scarcity of policy expressly focusing on quotidian public space realm seems odd in a democratic society.
At the root of both processes and spaces of public-ness is a more fundamental matter—education for engaged democracy. That conventional education disengages students from both civic processes and locality is a conundrum receiving focused attention today. I’m especially interested in efforts to re-ground learning in proximal environs. In addition to educational practices sometimes referred to as pedagogies of place, I’m also interested in epistemological implications of place in the production of social knowledge for action. Pairing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals with the concept of localities as ecosystems for, and of, learning, ignites my interest in global networks of “Learning Cities.” What role can international networks play in fostering collaboration among localities seeking local achievement of global goals?
Outreach and Extension Focus
My outreach work pertains to advancing conditions and environs conducive to lifelong learning with individuals, teams, organizations and communities.
In my role as the director of the Community Learning and Service Partnership program, I promote intergenerational growth and development across difference by pairing individual Cornell students studying Adult Learning with individual Cornell service employees wanting to pursue an educational interest. These arrangements, or “Learning Partnerships,” emphasize mutual learning. The student serves as an educational mentor to the employee, and both employee and student learn from each other. In this way Cornell students apt to become future decision makers and people of influence gain familiarity with adult community members whose experiences and life circumstances differ from their own. At the same time, service employees gain support and instruction while developing as self-directed learners achieving their goals.
Other outreach efforts of mine include designing and offering workshops and professional development for educators, local governments, nonprofits and community organizations, as well as creating and facilitating customized process designs for organizational change and soft skill development.
My approach to education is that of a facilitative teacher. My aim is to design and facilitate learning experiences wherein students can grow as self-directed learners, collaborative inquirers and democratic leaders. I realize that people learn best when challenged a bit beyond their comfort zones and in real world settings. As I teach courses in Adult, Community and Leadership Learning, I purposefully and transparently unpack the why and how of the instructional designs I employ in class. I want to make visible the largely unseen planning and decision points of creating curriculum and constructing learning activities. My goal is to equip students to be leaders of learning cultures and designs, in whatever area of human endeavor they elect. If students get to a point where they can thoughtfully critique the design decisions and facilitation strategies I use for a given learning aim, I am reassured that they are indeed developing as educators.
All of the courses I teach are community-engaged courses. I believe students can uncover their essential educator-selves only when put in positions to mentor learners with instruction and support. While exposure to techniques, tools, big ideas and challenging assignments can provide rich material to draw from, one can only really learn to facilitate learning by actually teaching.
Awards and Honors
- Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogs Faculty Fellow (2008) University of Alaska
- Global Learning Education Faculty Fellow (2018) Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies
- Transatlantic Educators Dialog, TED Fellow (2017) European Union Center of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign