Emily A. Holmes, Ph.D., Kelly James, PhD, Leslie McAbee, Ph.D., Joseph R. Preston, M.A., Amy G. Siebenmorgen, M.Ed., Anthony R. Trimboli, Ph.D.


This paper develops a comprehensive pedagogical framework for transformational learning at Christian Brothers University as part of the 2017-2022 CBU Strategic Plan. Drawing on our rich Lasallian heritage, the authors connect that heritage to our current CBU student population. Placing constructivist and liberation pedagogical theories in the larger context of Lasallian education, the authors develop a concept of “transformational” as active learning through which students co-construct knowledge in a process of shared inquiry, with the aim of developing a sense of vocation, purpose, and social responsibility as they use their education to transform the society in which they live. Transformational learning at CBU is rooted in the Gospel values of community, siblinghood, love, service, and justice, and leads to the transformation of both the student and the world in light of these values.

This document is not intended to be prescriptive in nature (how faculty must teach); rather the authors hope that a shared Lasallian pedagogical framework will inspire current and future faculty to connect what happens in their classrooms to the transformative potential of a CBU education in the lives of our students. To that end, we conclude with numerous (but not exhaustive) examples of high-impact teaching practices that are already being implemented by faculty at CBU.

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Transformational Learning at Christian Brothers University: A Lasallian Pedagogical Framework


transformational learning, student success, high impact practices, Lasallian pedagogy, liberation pedagogy, constructivism


About the Authors

Emily A. Holmes is associate professor in the department of religion and philosophy at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. She is the author of Flesh Made Word: Medieval Women Mystics, Writing, and the Incarnation (2013) and the co-editor of Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion (2011) and Breathing with Luce Irigaray (2013). Her teaching and research interests include women’s writing practices in Christian history, feminist theology, religious pluralism, and the spirituality and ethics of eating. She earned her doctorate at Emory University.

Kelly James is an associate professor of sociology in the behavioral sciences department at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. She is the director of the Safe Zones program at CBU and teaches in the Countdown to College program at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, MN. Her teaching interests include addictions, human sexuality, and criminal justice. She earned her doctorate in sociology at Louisiana State University.

Leslie McAbee is the founding director of the AutoZone Center for Community Engagement at Christian Brothers University. In this capacity, she aims to advance CBU’s Lasallian commitment to community and service through collaboration with communities on and off campus in order to enhance learning, enrich student life, and promote positive social change in Memphis and beyond. Leslie has extensive experience developing and teaching service-learning courses, primarily at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from which she holds a doctorate in English. She also served in Madagascar as a member of the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching English as a Foreign Language, training high school student volunteers and promoting English Club activities for students outside the classroom.

Joseph R. Preston is the director of campus ministry at Christian Brothers University. He has been around and a part of the Lasallian Mission for over the past 10 years. First, as a student at Lewis University, then as a staff member, and now most currently as a staff member at CBU. As director of campus ministry, he walks alongside students accompanying them on their faith journey. In 2019 he created and piloted a course on the Lasallian Mission called, The Lasallian Life: From the Beginning to Now. He is also involved with Lasallian formation on national level, as both attendee and facilitator.

Amy Siebenmorgen is the graduate assistant at the AutoZone Center for Community Engagement at Christian Brothers University where she founded civic engagement programming. She graduated from Christian Brothers University in May 2021 with her masters in education. Amy is also a Lasallian Volunteer Scholar; she served at San Miguel School Chicago (2017-2019), where she taught 8th grade language arts. She earned her bachelors in English education in 2016 from the University of Central Arkansas.

Anthony R. Trimboli is associate professor in the department of chemistry at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. He has been associated with Lasallian education for over 15 years, first, at La Salle College High School (Wyndmoor, PA) as a student then as a faculty member, and presently at Christian Brothers University since 2011. He currently serves as member of the CBU Strategic Planning steering committee and chair of the Transformational Learning subcommittee. He earned his doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of South Carolina.

ISSN: 2151-2515
© Christian Brothers Conference 2023.