As Doyle Faculty Fellows, Georgetown professors commit to redesigning a course in order to foster active student engagement with difference and the diversity of human experience. As the profiles below demonstrate, the 2010-2011 Faculty Fellows approached the challenge of creating a Doyle Initiative course in different and creative ways.
Alisa Carse | Department of Philosophy | Introduction to Ethics: The Ethics of Responsibility and Respect
Yulia Chentsova Dutton | Department of Psychology | Cultural Psychology
Maria Donoghue | Department of Biology
Nadine Ehlers | Women’s and Gender Studies | Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
Leslie Hinkson | Department of Sociology | Race and Ethnic Relations
Robin Kelley | School of Foreign Service | Women’s Health and Human Rights
Meredith McKittrick | Department of History | Comparative History of U.S. and South Africa
Marilyn McMorrow | School of Foreign Service | Religion, Ethics, and International Affairs
Natsu Onoda Power | Department of Performing Arts | Adaptation and Performance of Literature
Sylvia Önder | Department of Anthropology and Division of Eastern Mediterranean Languages | Introduction to Medical Anthropology
Ricardo Ortiz | Department of English | U.S. Latino Literary and Cultural Studies
Matthew C.J. Rudolph | Department of Government | South Asian Politics: India and Pakistan
Christine Schiwietz | Department of Sociology | Visual Sociology and Consumer Technology
Elizabeth Hervey Stephen | School of Foreign Service | Borders: SFS Proseminar
Sarah Stiles | Department of Sociology | Law and Society
Clare Wilde | Department of Theology | The Problem of God
Faculty Fellow Profiles
Introduction to Ethics
Alisa Carse focused on redesigning elements of her Introduction to Ethics course to build on already-central themes of respect, responsibility, and social justice. As a general education philosophy course with an average enrollment of around 200 students, this course offered the opportunity to engage a large swath of students in thinking about difference and diversity in the context of ethics early in their Georgetown careers. Carse’s redesign included readings on moral relativism and moral isolationism, guided discussions around Doyle Learning Goals, showing a documentary about the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, and a special presentation by Staff Sgt. Colby Howard, president of the Georgetown University chapter of Student Veterans of America.
“The experience reoriented me somewhat in my teaching. I’m more eager than ever to find ways of engaging my students affectively in the learning process—and more brazen in embracing this objective.” — Alisa Carse (Philosophy)
Yulia Chentsova Dutton
In teaching her Cultural Psychology course, Yulia Chentsova Dutton has found that students often fail to recognize the impact of culture on themselves. In her Doyle revision of this course, Chentsova Dutton focused on helping students recognize the interactions between individuals and culture and how these interactions shape their own attitudes and beliefs. For example, in a unit on stereotypes, guest speaker Sapna Cheryan presented her research on computer science classrooms and gender stereotypes, helping students realize that stereotypes exist both implicitly and explicitly, and wield power not only in the minds of individuals but also in cultural and even physical environments.
An Issues Approach to Biology
Maria Donoghue integrated the Doyle approach into her course through a unit analyzing the issue of sexual orientation from a neurobiological perspective. Considering the biological bases of sexual orientation invited students to think about the ways that neurobiology affects behavior and raised broader questions about the relationship between nature and nurture in human life. From a social perspective, it inspired reflection on the stereotypes and biases associated with sexual orientation.
Drawing on neurobiology majors as peer-educators, Donoghue invited students to consider the interplay of biological and environmental factors impacting sexual orientation. The neurobiology majors had spent the semester studying sexual orientation in detail in their senior capstone seminar, and through a series of articles, lectures, and small-group discussions, these student-experts assisted course participants as they explored the issue for themselves. In the end, by analyzing the current scholarly understanding of sexual orientation, course participants came to see the “inherent uncertainty” underlying this and other scientific discussions.
Bringing these two student groups together created a diverse learning community made up of individuals with varying levels of expertise and engagement in scientific subjects. Donoghue reported that this had the effect of exposing the non-science majors to diverse ways of thinking while also giving the neurobiology majors a sense of authority as budding scientific specialists. She also found not only that focusing on such a controversial topic helped make the course more relevant to student interests, but also that the depth of student engagement with the specific issue of sexual orientation enriched their growing scientific intelligence overall.
Women’s and Gender Studies
Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
Nadine Ehlers has long understood that students in her course come expecting to talk about difference, but she has found that they often assume the class will focus on topics such as race, gender, and sexuality. Students are often less comfortable with examining the complexity of identity and how ideas of “normal” or “abnormal” identities are created. To push her students into this more challenging territory, Ehlers found two pedagogical strategies particularly useful—humor and shock. For example, Ehlers used photos of stereotypically masculine-looking figures to provoke discussion and then later revealed that all the figures were biologically female. The ensuing discussion successfully destabilized students’ sense of self and allowed reflection on their own assumptions, biases, and identity expectations. Through the use of such assignments, Ehlers’s students were more easily able to critically and personally invest in difficult discussions.
Race & Ethnic Relations
“None of my other classes has created a community of students so passionate about an issue and eager to share their newly-found perspectives.” — Student in Doyle course, Fall 2010
In her Doyle course, Leslie Hinkson created a new assignment that asked students to write an “Identity Autobiography.” Hinkson introduced the idea of difference by having students take careful note of their childhoods to theorize how race and ethnicity may have altered or influenced their fate differently. Through this exercise and others she designed for the class, Hinkson challenged students to engage with theoretical literature about race and ethnicity as well as to examine the tension between individual diversity and collective group membership.
School of Foreign Service
Women’s Health and Human Rights
For her Women’s Health and Human Rights course, Robin Kelley pushed students to engage with difference by designing opportunities for them to examine critical class topics from a variety of media and to experience external critics and collaborators through the integration of Wikipedia assignments. Students used the Wikipedia platform to interact with the larger world and share their scholarship with like-minded authors. For the sensitive topic of female genital mutilation, students attended a play and participated in intensive role-play exercises related to the topic. These interactive exercises challenged students not only to work together, but also to work through different perspectives on difficult topics in thoughtful and meaningful ways.
Comparative History of the U.S. and South Africa
In her course, Meredith McKittrick introduced her students to the complexities of historical analysis and, in particular, to the ways in which historical narratives shape our understanding of current realities.Two related assignments formed the core of the Doyle element in the class. In the first, students were given a collection of images from the civil rights movements in the United States and South Africa and asked to identify which country was depicted. Students generally were unable to identify them accurately, and their responses opened up the diversity of understandings of the two countries and also gradually revealed the way in which historical narratives shape contemporary understanding. In the second assignment, McKittrick asked each student to bring to class two or three images that challenged the predominant narrative about the civil rights movement in each of the two countries. Most students in the class brought images that demonstrated the complexities of the current situation, complexities that are masked by the fairly common triumphalist view that racial difference no longer matters. Students admitted their discomfort with this realization, and the lively classroom discussion that followed was evidence of how deeply they engaged in this assignment. McKittrick says that these assignments focusing on images are rather different from her usual text-based assignments. While she was concerned that course revisions that made room for and supported these two assignments might compromise students’ understanding of the broader historical context, she found that students generally were able to do the historical work she expected them to do, in part because the directness of their work with the images made the history more real.
School of Foreign Service
Religion, Ethics, and International Affairs
Marilyn McMorrow’s course concentrated on religious and ethical contributions that can have a positive impact on world politics. Conscious of the range of diversity of her students and of the ways in which normative points of view can be reinforced in the classroom, McMorrow decided to utilize clicker technology to allow real-time, anonymous classroom polling. Feedback slides presenting a range of possible responses to the reading and theories were then used to prompt classroom discussions.
Natsu Onoda Power
Adaptation and Performance of Literature
For the Doyle redesign of Natsu Onoda Power’s course, she worked to bring in issues of diversity and difference in both “overt” ways (class exercises and assignments) and more “covert” ways (guiding discussion or critiques to invite student reflection on such issues). One assignment pushed students to see their own invisible biases by developing performances around Georgetown-specific vocabulary. The post-performance discussions provoked reflection on student perceptions of themselves and others as well as on what forces of inclusion and exclusion exist in a campus community such as Georgetown.
Introduction to Medical Anthropology
In her Medical Anthropology course, Sylvia Önder wanted to push students to think about difference in new ways. Specifically, she focused on the experiences of those with “diverse abilities” and of students who are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Önder organized the course around two new pedagogical strategies: “embodied experiences” and anonymous posts to the class website. The embodied experiences presented students with tasks that forced them to move outside their comfort zones through a series of “dramatic enactments.” Activities ranged from transgressing social norms like eye contact, to taking on a “disability” and observing how it impacts one’s interactions on campus, to participating in a mini boot camp to simulate the physical and mental conditioning of student veterans. The anonymous assignments were designed to give students the opportunity to share their honest reactions to their experiences without worrying about how their thoughts would be perceived by the professor or their classmates. These posts as well as student reflection essays revealed the impact the Doyle approach had on student experiences in the course. Önder believes that communicating the Doyle-inspired goals of the course with her students was essential to deepening their engagement with the theme of diversity. In her words, “This made it possible to go much farther in one semester than the normal approach, and made students feel alert to differences and similarities between themselves and others in the class.”
Survey of Latino Literature
The themes of diversity and difference are not new to Ricardo Ortíz’s Latino Literature course. However, one change that he introduced specifically as a Doyle component influenced his experience of the course in a way that he did not expect. One challenge he has faced in teaching the course is that students often want to find themselves in the material they are reading. That in itself would not be a problem; however, he has found that student inclinations to see course material as “all about them” have made it difficult for him to maintain the appropriate level of intellectual rigor. In the spring of 2011, he found a structured way for students to bring the diversity of their lives into their coursework. Specifically, he asked each student to supplement one of the three assigned papers with an ungraded reflection on how the Latino experiences depicted in the course readings related to his or her personal experiences in Latino (and other) communities outside the classroom. Ortíz reported that he really did not expect the impact these student reflections had on him as an instructor. To use his own words, “The window that the Doyle reflection element opened for me into the lives of the very diverse group of students in my class really reset my own sense of how much more there remained for me to learn about them in ways that very directly and positively influenced my teaching.” Ortíz’s experience is an important reminder that much of the diversity of any classroom comes from the variety of perspectives brought by students to the course. He is now exploring ways of bringing these personal encounters with material into the course so that students learn more about the rich diversity in the classroom around them.
Matthew C. J. Rudolph
South Asian Politics
Through the lens of political and economic development, Matthew Rudolph’s course explored how difference has been addressed in the context of South Asia, a region renowned for its distinct ethnic, religious, and cultural communities. In shaping his course in light of the Doyle Initiative, Rudolph drew on the diversity of South Asia and of class participants to engage questions of identity, cross-cultural interaction, and tolerance.
Visual Sociology and Consumer Technology
Christine Schiwietz embraced her work in the Doyle Initiative as an opportunity to focus a large part of her course on the impact of new consumer technologies on society in two core areas — first, the impact of online identity construction and its larger privacy implications and second, the multi-faceted local, national, and global examination of the “Digital Divide.” Class discussions and written reflections were a significant part of the course and led students to critically examine how the development and use of new technologies can be both more inclusive and more divisive—that is, new technologies can bring more people into social and civic conversations but they can also divide society by race, ethnicity, class, and gender.
Elizabeth Hervey Stephen
School of Foreign Service
Elizabeth Hervey Stephen designed her proseminar to introduce new students in the School of Foreign Service to key issues related to immigration in the 21st century. From the start, Stephen believed the seminar’s focus on immigration made it well suited to address themes central to the Doyle Initiative, such as diversity, tolerance, inclusion, and exclusion. Through a variety of assignments, she introduced students to how these themes are addressed by scholars and challenged them to re-think popularly held conceptions of race and ethnicity in light of what they studied in class.
Law and Society
In revising her Law and Society course, Sarah Stiles undertook a dramatic curriculum infusion experiment aimed at integrating Doyle Initiative values into all aspects of the course. In the first part of the course, students analyzed landmark Supreme Court decisions from the 20th century with issues of tolerance and diversity at their core. Later in the semester, Stiles asked students to research and teach their classmates about current “hot topics” that continue to test the limits of inclusion in the U.S. today. This activity allowed students to explore issues in detail that they found interesting and relevant to their lives and to their communities. Stiles found that infusing Doyle values into her course so thoroughly led to a richer experience of diversity for students than if she had dedicated only a specific unit of the class to addressing the theme. Over the course of the semester, students participated in high-level discussions about some of the most sensitive issues in American society today. They reported that these discussions spilled out of the classroom and into their daily lives as they engaged in conversations with peers and family members. In Stiles’s estimation, students came to her course “hungry” for opportunities to address these important issues. They left as competent and confident dialogue partners able to take part in difficult discussions without sacrificing a sense of mutual respect for their interlocutors.
Problem of God
When Clare Wilde explained to her students the Doyle-inspired focus of her Problem of God course, she did not know how they would take to the themes of diversity, empathy, and tolerance. The course took a felicitous and unexpected turn when a South Korean student asked to engage these themes by doing a presentation for the class on the religious traditions of his homeland in order to complement the Mediterranean- and Euro-influenced focus of the other course content. Following their classmate’s lead, other students subsequently jumped at the opportunity to undertake similar projects, further incorporating diversity into the heart of the class. In Wilde’s estimation, these presentations transformed the course in ways that enriched the learning experiences of the students as well as the professor.
“I wanted the classroom to become a place in which students not only saw, but appreciated, the richness of the ‘diversity’ that is present here at Georgetown.” –Clare Wilde (Theology)
Click here to access the full 2010-2011 Doyle Annual Report.
Return to the Faculty Fellows page.