Andrea Brenner
Co-Author of How to College: What to Know Before You Go (And When You're There)

Andrea Malkin Brenner, PhD is a sociologist who consults with colleges that wish to create their own first-year transitions courses. She served as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at American University for over twenty years. She created the nationally-recognized American University Experience (AUx) Program, now a mandatory full-year course that serves as a college transition course (fall semester) and a cross-cultural communication class focused on race, inclusion, and discourse across difference (spring semester). Dr. Brenner designed the curriculum, trained the faculty, and served as the program’s director. In this role, she represented the Office of Undergraduate Education at American University, speaking about the award-winning first-year experience program at local and national conferences.


Previous to that, Dr. Brenner served as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at American University for 20 years, teaching classes on inequality, social problems, and the life course. She also directed the University College program, AU’s oldest and largest living-learning community. Dr. Brenner received multiple awards for her teaching and frequently served as a speaker in talks and workshops about innovative teaching strategies.


Dr. Brenner holds a BA in Sociology from Brandeis University and an MA in Curriculum, Instruction and Administration in Higher Education from Boston College. She received her PhD in Sociology from American University, where her research focused on the complexities of white professors teaching about race and racism to students of color. She has taught and published about the sociology of education; inequality; diversity and inclusion; teaching introductory sociology; sociology of sport; and on the life course.

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How to CollegeWhat to Know Before You Go (And When You're There)
St. Martin's Griffin

How to College is here to help. Professors Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Schwartz guide first-year students and their families through the transition process, during the summer after high school graduation and throughout the school year, preparing students to succeed and thrive as they transition and adapt to college. The book draws on the authors’ experience teaching, writing curricula, and designing programs for thousands of first-year college students over decades.

Innovative Techniques for Teaching About Inequality Power, privilege, and bias are maintained through the systematic marginalization of US society including a range of social institutions and daily human interactions. But how do we explain these complex inequalities of race, gender, gender identity, sexuality, social class, religion, disability, and age to our students? In this workshop, audience members will participate in hands-on innovative exercises, learn to demonstrate them, and gain confidence in facilitating follow-up discussions. Seminars can be geared toward the specific demographics and needs of the student population and learning objectives of the institution. Accompanying lesson plans will be distributed to participants.
Dialogue Across Difference The U.S. population is undergoing dramatic demographic changes and this diversity creates the need to implement multicultural and cross-cultural learning experiences in our educational and workplace settings. Discussion groups have proven to be ideal places to begin this dialogue, as they serve as brave spaces where participants can share lived experiences, move beyond discomfort, and progress into learning about difference from each other. In this seminar, participants will discuss thought-provoking questions about difference; unlock their implicit bias; and discuss the differences between concepts such as diversity and inclusion and the intent versus impact of words. Attendees will participate in large and small group discussions and learn techniques for facilitating future conversations in formal and informal settings.
The Power of Asking Why: Embracing the Unknown Schools are acknowledging the importance of pushing students outside of what is easy and familiar to facilitate their personal and intellectual growth. However, as professionals, we are conditioned to provide quick answers to questions as a sign of competence and leadership, and continue to behave as though gaps in knowledge should be hidden at all cost. How do we teach ourselves and, in turn, our students that saying, “I don’t know,” can be hugely beneficial and a powerful invitation for expanding knowledge? Are faculty and staff willing to take these risks themselves? How do we help ourselves and our students move beyond the familiarity that keeps us feeling safe and often stuck and grow toward the unknown?

WAMU reports on Andrea Brenner’s bringing her Diversity course to American University.

Andrea Brenner discusses how she plans to implement her new Diversity and Inclusion plan at American University.

Kirkus reviews Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz’ book How to College: What to Know Before You Go (And When You’re There).

"Dr. Andrea Malkin Brenner recently served as the key note speaker for the DC Chapter of the American College Personal Association Annual Conference in December 2018. She gave an engaging talk to our participants which incorporated her research and experience with the themes of our conference. Her talk left our participants with relevant questions and ideas to consider throughout the day of the conference as they attended other sessions. Dr. Brenner received top scores on our post-conference surveys when asked about their satisfaction with the keynote speaker. We would absolutely recommend Dr. Andrea Malkin Brenner to others who are looking for a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and inspiring speaker."
- Lauren Wagoner, DCCPA Executive Board Member, Associate Director, McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University

"Dr. Brenner was the primary designer of our American University Experience (AUx) curriculum, the cornerstone of the undergraduate curriculum for all AU first-year students. She also designed and delivered all of the related curricular and pedagogy trainings to dozens of instructors, which I had the privilege of observing. In my 11 years at AU, I have never witnessed a more talented and authentic leader of faculty development seminars and workshops. She has a unique ability to capture a room and create a space for faculty to fully engage with difficult material. She inspires trust from and instills confidence in faculty (both new and experiences), while simultaneously pushing instructors to excel in the classroom."
- Jessica L. Waters, J.D., Dean of Undergraduate Education, American University