What Is and What Can Be: How a Liminal Position Can Change Learning and Teaching in Higher Education


Alison Cook-Sather is Professor of Education and Coordinator of The Andrew W. Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr College.

Zanny Alter is Parkway West High-School Partnership Coordinator, AmeriCorp VISTA, at Bryn Mawr College.


In this article we analyze what happens when undergraduate students are positioned as pedagogical consultants in a faculty development program. Drawing on their spoken and written perspectives, and using the classical anthropological concept of “liminality,” we illustrate how these student consultants revise their relationships with their teachers and their responsibilities within their learning. These revisions have the potential to transform deep-seated societal understandings of education based on traditional hierarchies and teacher–student distinctions. [liminality, position, student consultant, learning, change]