Doyle Faculty Fellows 2011-2012

The 2011–2012 Faculty Fellows cohort included 17 faculty from across the university. While this year’s fellows followed the examples of earlier cohorts in redesigning their courses in order to deepen their students’ engagement with issues related to diversity, we also found ourselves addressing the question of the Program’s ongoing impact.

“We were moved to address this question in large part because many of the Year 3 fellows joined the program after encouragement from former fellows. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of fellows from the first two years give birth to the experiences of many of this year’s cohort, and encouraging to see evidence that the program is having an impact beyond the cohort of any particular year. One of the resounding themes of our conversations with both current and former fellows is some version of the statement that “My approach to issues of diversity in the classroom has been changed. It seems that every course I’m teaching now is a Doyle course.” Even beyond this, fellows report that they find new energy for teaching in their year of conversations with other faculty.” – John Rakestraw (Doyle Team)

Faculty Fellows

Benjamin Bogin | Department of Theology | The Problem of God (THEO 001)

Francisca Cho | Department of Theology | Introduction to Buddhism (THEO 167-01)

David Crystal | Department of Psychology | Culture and Psychopathology (PSYC 353)

Elzbieta Gozdziak | Department of Anthropology | The Other: Immigrant Integration in North America and Europe (ANTH 435)

Benjamin Harbert | Department of Performing Arts | Jazz History (MUSC 116-01)

Natalie Khazaal | Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies | Arab History on Film (ARAB 320-01)

Gwen Kirkpatrick | Department of Spanish and Portuguese | Survey of Latin American Literature II (SPAN 262-01)

Shiloh Krupar | School of Foreign Service | Introduction to Critical Geography: Theory and Practice (CULP 375-01)

Jennifer Lubkin Chavez | Center for Language Education and Development | High-Intermediate Reading & Writing

Susan Lynskey | Department of Performing Arts | Deaf Performance Culture (TPST 347-01)

Nadia Mahdi | Department of Performing Arts | Play Analysis (TPST 130-02)

Barbara Mujica | Department of Spanish and Portuguese | Early Modern Spanish Theater (SPAN 446-01)

You-Me Park | Women’s and Gender Studies Program | Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies (WSTP 140-01)

Libbie Rifkin | Department of English | Poetry and the Culture of Washington D.C. (ENGL 237-01)

Jennifer Swift | Department of Chemistry | Molecular Gastronomy (CHEM 023)

Astrid Weigert | Department of German | Witches in History, Literature, and Film (GERM 043)

Diane Yeager | Department of Theology | Christian Ethics and Ecology (THEO 039-01)


Faculty Fellow Profiles

Benjamin Bogin

Problem of God

In teaching Problem of God in the past, Ben Bogin has struggled to get students to recognize the role of personal commitments in their understanding of religion without letting these commitments become obstacles to learning about other perspectives. For his Doyle course revision, Bogin demonstrated to his students how scholars apply theories to the study of religion. He asked students to attend religious events representing unfamiliar traditions and to interpret them by applying the theories of religion they had studied in class. In the end, Bogin was pleased with the outcomes of the new approach and found that students were able to engage with the subject matter with greater clarity and depth than in previous semesters.


Francisca Cho

Introduction to Buddhism

After teaching Introduction to Buddhism for twenty years, Francisca Cho decided to redesign her course in order to promote student engagement with contemporary Buddhist ethical and political dilemmas. Through a collaborative learning project at the end of the term, student teams explored how traditional Buddhist thought could be utilized to address modern problems, such as abortion and end-of-life questions, the issues surrounding the Dalai Lama and Tibet, and Japanese Zen nationalism during the second World War. The team strategy allowed Cho to restructure her own methods of assessment, and she believes that her current model better measures and rewards skills developed throughout her course as opposed to skills students already possessed at the beginning of her course.


David Crystal

Culture and Psychopathology

David Crystal set out to transform the structure of his course, Culture and Psychopathology, to create more opportunities for students to engage personally with the diverse ways culture shapes the understanding of mental illness. His first pedagogical change shifted class meetings away from lectures and engaged individual student learning processes through small group discussions aimed at turning students into critical consumers of scientific information. Class meetings later in the semester transitioned to a debate format with two teams presenting opening arguments, followed by active discussion. Crystal credits the Doyle redesign process with bringing an unprecedented level of energy and understanding to an already innovative course topic.

“This course was an ideal intersection of my majors in Psychology and Spanish and minor in Justice and Peace studies. I enjoyed the Doyle aspect of the course and the emphasis on diversity and real life application. I would recommend a Doyle course to other students in the future.” — Student, Culture and Psychopathology


Elzbieta Gozdziak

Institute for the Student of International Migration
The Other: Immigrant Integration in North America and Europe

Elzbieta Gozdziak wanted to challenge her students to think critically and comparatively about the meanings of difference, identity, and belonging. Drawing on discussions with other Doyle Faculty Fellows, she designed several assignments that required students to apply theoretical frameworks to new contexts—for example, she asked students to write policy briefs on immigration topics and to analyze works of fiction depicting the immigrant experience. Students found these assignments to be engaging, and Gozdziak in turn was surprised by the diverse perspectives that students brought to class discussions.


Benjamin Harbert

Performing Arts
Jazz History


“I used this opportunity to take some risks, which put me in a somewhat similar situation as my students, many of whom had never performed music in front of an audience.” — Benjamin Harbert (Performing Arts)

For the revision of his Jazz History course, Ben Harbert wanted to create opportunities for his students to make connections between their personal experiences at Georgetown and some of the major influences of jazz music. Harbert found that students feel considerable pressures around conformity and individualism, and struggle with issues related to stereotypes, self-esteem, and collaboration. Since these are also issues that have been a part of the history of jazz, Harbert developed assignments and readings to try to draw out these common themes.

The major change Harbert made to address his Doyle goals was the addition of student group performances. Three times during the semester, students worked in groups to arrange and perform their own music, and then wrote a reflection paper about the performance. The groups were formed according to their musical backgrounds. Some groups had jazz performance experience; some had musical but no jazz performance experience; and some had no musical experience at all. Harbert found that the process of preparing and performing their own music was powerful for all of the students, regardless of prior musical experience.

In the paper, students were asked to reflect on the performance and how the experience connected with issues related to Georgetown and to American society more broadly. This experimental reflective exercise helped students see connections between music and wider social phenomena. Several students reflected on the idea that musical collaboration requires trust. The performance assignment thrust students into a situation where they had to depend on each other and work together, regardless of similarities and differences, which led them to question stereotypes. Students were surprised by what they learned about one another in this context. Students understood through their own experiences that music, and especially jazz, is entangled in human relationships, and can therefore become a particular way of examining many contemporary social issues. Perhaps more importantly, their experiences with their performance groups also gave them new ways of thinking of themselves and their peers.


Natalie Khazaal

Arabic and Islamic Studies
Arab History on Film

In her course Arab History on Film, Natalie Khazaal screened a number of films and assigned readings connected with them to highlight larger historical trends. This complement of assignments led students to evaluate cultural stereotypes of the other from two different perspectives: the Arab and the American. Khazaal’s final assignment required students to write and cast a hypothetical film dealing with similar issues to those presented in class. The assignment design pushed students to acquire the tools necessary to deal with stereotypes that are both perpetuated by and aimed at members of their own communities.


Gwen Kirkpatrick

Spanish & Portuguese
Survey of Spanish American Literature II

In revising her Spanish American literature survey, Kirkpatrick set out to help students develop a deep appreciation of the diversity among and within Latin American culture groups. Her hope was that in recognizing Latin American diversity through literary and historical case studies, students would be better equipped to appreciate the dynamics of difference at work in their own lives. One opportunity for discussing parallels between Latin American diversity and the lives of students arose when the class read an article on castes in Spanish colonial America. What ensued was a rich discussion among students about the social divisions that exist on Georgetown’s campus today. In turn, this helped students reflect back on the historical world of Latin America and recognize the complexity of the questions about diversity that Kirkpatrick introduced.


Shiloh Krupar

School of Foreign Service
Introduction to Critical Geography

Shiloh Krupar concentrated the redesign of her critical geography course on diversifying her own pedagogical approach in order to push her students to engage more deeply with the diversity already present in the subject matter of the class.

Krupar began by replacing the weekly written reflections she had always required of students with an assignment to create one-page concept maps, which pushed students to synthesize class readings, key ideas, and debates in nonlinear ways. The result was a weekly collection of student maps demonstrating diverse ways to organize and engage with the same body of information. Her students found the exercise demanding in its call for rigorous synthesis of the course materials, but also rewarding, particularly because it was open to creative approaches and helped them appreciate their own group’s diverse ways of learning.

Another major revision for Krupar was the inclusion of a new pedagogical tactic she calls “unsettling” pedagogy. In the first part of the course, through selected readings and exercises, Krupar built an expectation among her students that simple geographical connections made between identity and territory—i.e. that identity can simply be mapped as dots on a two-dimensional x-y grid—are always problematic and necessarily contribute to systems of inequality. However, to further challenge her students, later in the semester, Krupar presented a lecture and case study that broke down this same assumption. She utilized these linked categories of identity and territory—the same categories the class had extensively critiqued—in order to show how they might be put to work to counter existing inequalities.

While the students found the 180-degree-turn unsettling, by the end of the semester many referred back to this “switch” as an important turning point in their understanding of critical geography. Students indicated that the shift had helped them to understand how categories—while never innocent constructions—can be put to work in order to show something in a new way and, possibly, to make an argument for change.


“I learned that students really need—and appreciate—opportunities to reflect on their experiences … and to develop subjective experiences into more formal questions and projects.” — Shiloh Krupar (School of Foreign Service)


Jennifer Lubkin Chavez

Center for Language and Education Development
High-Intermediate Reading & Writing, English as a Foreign Language

Jennifer Lubkin Chavez wanted to expose her international students to different perspectives and to help them develop critical thinking skills, as preparation for eventual success in U.S. university programs. The students engaged with local Deaf culture through a reading assignment (the memoir Deaf in D.C. by Madan Vasishta), a discussion with the author, events at Georgetown’s DiversABILITY Forum, and a field trip to Gallaudet University. Lubkin was gratified to be able to share in an authentic learning experience with her students, as she herself gained a new perspective on Deaf culture.


Susan Lynskey

Performing Arts
Theatre Practicum

Georgetown & Gallaudet students perform together in Doyle faculty fellow Susan Lynskey's play "Visible Impact."

With the encouragement she received from the Doyle program, Susan Lynskey developed a new model for her Theatre Practicum course, in which she took an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional approach that brought together students from Georgetown and Gallaudet University. Together, students from Georgetown and Gallaudet created the original play Visible Impact, the centerpiece of Georgetown’s 2011 DiversABILITY Forum. The play highlighted the perspectives of Deaf and disabled persons and their interactions with others. The final production was performed with both hearing and Deaf audiences in mind and took a “total communication” approach in which all scenes were voiced, signed, and subtitled simultaneously.
PHOTO: Georgetown & Gallaudet students perform together in Doyle faculty fellow Susan Lynskey’s play “Visible Impact.”


Nadia Mahdi

Performing Arts
Play Analysis

In her Play Analysis course, Nadia Mahdi wanted to equip her students with the critical tools to engage with plays ranging from Greek tragedy to modern works, and to reflect on the complex societal issues they bring to light. Inspired by her Doyle colleagues, she experimented with a number of strategies to vary class discussions, such as beginning class with brief writing exercises to spark conversation. She found that letting go of her instinct to control the classroom allowed students to bring the diversity of their experiences into the classroom, and that framing the course in terms of students’ ethical and social roles as analysts empowered them to speak more authoritatively about the ideas presented in the plays.

“The content was very applicable in a surprising way to my life and my other classes. I really enjoyed the class and found myself thinking about the themes of the plays in relation to the world around me.” — Student in Play Analysis


Barbara Mujica

Spanish & Portuguese
Early Modern Spanish Theater


“I am grateful that the Doyle Program nudged me out of my comfort zone and forced me to rethink my teaching objectives and strategies.” — Barbara Mujica (Spanish & Portuguese)

Longtime Georgetown professor Barbara Mujica focused her redesign efforts on her Early Modern Spanish Theater course, an upper-level Spanish course that examines plays from 16th- and 17th-century Catholic Spain. Even though Mujica had taught this course several times previously, this time around she decided to completely reorganize her approach to the course materials. Instead of introducing the plays chronologically, she took a thematic approach that brought to the fore questions of difference. Focusing on themes rather than the chronological evolution of Spanish theater helped students see the ways in which theater both perpetuated and subverted the status quo of early modern Spain.

Mujica’s course also pushed students to consider the parallels between early modern Spanish society and society today. As a result of her Doyle redesign, Mujica says that her students “became more aware of diversity in their own lives and more sensitive to how marginalized elements of society are portrayed in the media today.”

The challenge Mujica and her students faced throughout the semester was how to consider the plays respectfully in spite of the chasm between the plays’ worldview and the worldview of students today. As Mujica puts it, “[t]he moral values that governed early modern Spain were in some ways very different from our own. [They] did not exalt tolerance or strive for diversity … The moral question we must consider as educators is: How do we judge a culture whose values we find distasteful without adopting the same biased position we condemn in them?”


You-me Park

Women’s and Gender Studies
Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies

You-me Park has taught Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies every semester for the last eight years. Based on this depth of experience, Park focused her redesign efforts on what she viewed to be an essential change: to strengthen students’ ability to discuss gender and sexual issues in ways that recognize other identity dynamics also at play, such as race or class issues. Park was especially interested in pushing her students to incorporate socioeconomic class as a category of analysis, because students seemed least practiced in doing so.

With this in mind, Park introduced several new assignments. For each week’s post-reading analysis, students were asked to address several questions about socioeconomic class. During oral presentations, students were required to include critical reflection on their own identity positions in relationship to the materials on which they presented. Park asked that student blog posts analyzing 2012 electoral politics pay special attention to issues of class and economic inequality. Lastly, Park asked that students articulate a class-sensitive approach to their final paper research proposals.

Park found that these approaches not only deepened her students’ understanding of how class issues interact with those of gender, race, and sexuality, but also helped them begin to recognize these complexities in their own lives and in events in the larger world. She plans to include similar assignments when she teaches this course in the future.


“I hope to find more ways to encourage students to develop critical faculty for parsing social structures, recognize their own investments in those structures, and pursue ways to create a more just and equitable world for all.” — You-Me Park (Women’s and Gender Studies)


Libbie Rifkin

The Poetry and Culture of Washington, D.C.


“…the motivation for my Doyle project was to find ways to get out of the way and enable students to teach each other more effectively.” –Libbie Rifkin (English)

For her Doyle curriculum infusion project, Libbie Rifkin targeted her Humanities and Writing course on The Poetry and Culture of Washington, D.C. Her first-year students, who came from Georgetown’s Community Scholars program, represented racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. These students had spent the previous summer on campus getting acclimated to college life. For her Doyle course, Rifkin hoped to capitalize on the tight bond formed among her students over the summer to foster peer-to-peer teaching and learning.

Rifkin set out to create the conditions that would allow her students to help each other. Feeling like her teaching style had become too “top-down,” Rifkin sought ways “to disseminate authority, particularly with respect to developing ideas for papers.” Her redesign efforts centered on blog assignments that asked students to mentor one another as writers. While she found that her students still needed significant guidance from her during the paper-writing process, Rifkin was impressed with the quality of their informal writing on the blog and found that her new approach led to “far better, richer, and more carefully thought through [writing] than in previous semesters.”

The blogging assignment also allowed Rifkin to tap into her students’ personal experiences by providing a forum that bridged analytical and reflective writing. Through the blog, students were able to see how their experiences differed from their classmates’. Ultimately, this diversity of perspective became the basis of their writing practice as they used the blog interaction with peers to bring their own writing into better focus.


Jennifer Swift

Molecular Gastronomy

In this new course, Jennifer Swift set out to build students’ capacity to think scientifically using food as a case study, and in the spirit of the Doyle program, she also wanted to increase student awareness about socioeconomic issues related to food. Swift introduced students to the chemistry of food through a series of lectures and in-class demonstrations. Guest speaker Michael Curtin of the community organization, D.C. Central Kitchen, and a field trip exercise that asked students to compare grocery stores in different neighborhoods inspired students to think about the economics of food availability, quality, and diversity. All of these activities prepared students for the final project of presenting a proposal for a new restaurant, taking into account location, cuisine type, and the chemical processes that occur during food preparation. This assignment showcased students’ intellectual creativity and allowed Swift to assess student learning in a new way that went beyond the traditional chemistry exam.


Astrid Weigert

Witches in History, Literature, and Film

In Astrid Weigert’s course on witches, she assigned historical texts often prove challenging for students. This year, Weigert asked students to post reactions on a course blog, focusing on the idea of “constructing and reacting to difference.” She found that students not only moved beyond simply summarizing the texts; they were also able to engage more deeply with the idea of the other. Weigert also invited representatives from Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs to visit her class to talk about religious diversity at Georgetown. Students were interested to learn about the Center’s work and several of them have pursued further involvement with the Center.


Diane Yeager

Ethics and Ecology

In this new course on Ethics and Ecology, Diane Yeager assigned readings that exposed students to the environmental concerns of authors representing Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Exploring these diverse perspectives helped students see what different communities have at stake in addressing environmental concerns. Students shared comments on these readings with one another online and discussed them as a class. While this assignment may have raised as many questions as answers for Yeager and her students, she hopes that the exposure to different ideas will inspire students to explore these perspectives further.

Click here to access the full 2011-2012 Doyle Annual Report.

Return to the Faculty Fellows page.