The 2014-2015 Doyle faculty fellows cohort began in May 2014 with an intensive four-day workshop focused on the interrelated themes of engaging diversity and effective pedagogy. This opportunity for substantive engagement with colleagues from across the university is a critical part of the fellowship. The concentrated time together helps create space for faculty to begin to re-imagine a course and also builds an interdisciplinary learning community that extends into the cohort work of the academic year and beyond.
A key theme at the beginning of the cohort discussions was that of design. Faculty fellows chose whether to design a new class from scratch or redesign a course previously taught, and spent time aligning their diversity-related goals with the course content, activities, and assignments. This work of (re)design and course adjustment continued in small group summer consultations and throughout the year as fellows presented to and critically engaged one another on specific aspects of their Doyle courses.
Ridgeway Addison | Nursing and Health Studies | The Problem of Suffering
Randall Amster | Program on Justice and Peace | Introduction to Justice and Peace
Dima Ayoub | Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies | Arabic and Film
Katherine Benton-Cohen | Department of History | The United States Since 1865
Matthew Carnes | Department of Government | The Politics of Inequality
Ilia Delio | Catholic Studies | Facebook and Jesus
Mark Giordano | School of Foreign Service | Water
Maria Christobalina Moreno | Department of Spanish and Portuguese | Gateway to Linguistics
Marc Morjé Howard | Department of Government | Prisons and Punishment
Theresa Keeley | School of Foreign Service | Sports, Human Rights, and US Foreign Relations
Michelle Ohnona | Women’s and Gender Studies Program | Introduction to Sexuality Studies
Douglas Reed | Department of Government | Democracy and Education
Carole Sargent | Center for Scholarly Publications | Research and Writing
Elizabeth Velez | Women’s and Gender Studies Program | Feminist Theory
Sabrina Wesley-Nero | Program on Education, Inquiry, and Justice | Urban Education
Faculty Fellow Profiles
The Problem of Suffering, Religious Perspectives
In Ridgeway Addison’s frequently taught course, The Problem of Suffering, students explore approaches to the universal human experience of suffering by each of the five major world religious traditions. The coursework helps students recognize these approaches as important and creative tools for tailoring positive, life-giving, and meaning-centered responses to suffering in the medical world. Addison dedicated himself to thinking through, planning, and adjusting the structure of the explicit agreements he makes with students concerning the nature of their course participation. The resulting participatory “Covenant” highlighted for both professor and students the fact that how we listen and talk together directly affects our learning and the kinds of relationships and communities we develop. Addison restructured the presentation of course materials to highlight key themes and questions in order to facilitate students’ ability to compare and contrast religious approaches to suffering. Another key theme was reflection, which students took up in a variety of ways, from in-class exercises to readings and reflective writing opportunities.
Program on Justice and Peace
Introduction to Justice and Peace
Introduction to Justice and Peace is a course already centered on themes related to difference and diversity, including poverty, hunger, and homelessness; racism, sexism, and homophobia; and violence, oppression, and marginalization. The seminar, which is pedagogically oriented around student-driven learning and experiential engagement, also offers an optional community-based learning component. In redesigning the course, Randall Amster sought to deepen students’ sense of personal connection to the material by dividing the course into specific thematic units with opportunities for student creativity, collaboration, and reflection. Amster also collaborated with other Doyle fellows in order to experiment with and maximize the effectiveness of various in-class activities and teaching strategies. In particular, he found effective the use of a “spectrogram” (in which participants address various prompts by moving around the room, allowing everyone to see each other’s responses) and a “fishbowl” (in which groups of two or three participants meet in the middle of a larger circle to discuss the implications of prompts focusing on issues that can be difficult to discuss in larger groups).
“The Doyle cohort experience was an invaluable resource for developing my pedagogy, expanding the substantive offerings in my courses, and building collegial bridges with colleagues from around the university. By focusing on both process and content, as well as providing a faculty forum for processing real-time events in a collaborative setting, the Doyle cohort provided a critical dimension that is often lacking in our relatively isolated faculty work lives.” — Randall Amster (Program on Justice and Peace)
Arabic and Islamic Studies
Through its cinematic exploration of class, sexuality, nation, East/West relations, and religion, Dima Ayoub’s Arab Film course is designed to help students first see and then critically assess their assumptions and presuppositions concerning the Arab world. In particular, the course focuses on complicating the function of nationalism as a value that both preserves and occludes diversity. Ayoub added a new module on the experience of Jewish communities in Iraq and North Africa, exploring the complexity of belonging, identity, and conflict. Film and literature were carefully linked together in order to unsettle deeply entrenched assumptions about Arab identity and the binary nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This in turn led to substantive in-class dialogues and thoughtful student written analysis. Additionally, analysis of the films helped students direct their attention to how films portray living experiences, as well as the ways that these portrayals both aid and obscure understanding. Ayoub’s success in using film to align and facilitate difficult dialogues, highlight textual themes, and improve written analysis has already led her to explore creative uses of film and literature in other language courses.
U.S. History since 1865
Katherine Benton-Cohen redesigned her U.S. History Survey, a course she has taught many times over the years, around separate modules, each making systematic use of primary source material from diverse perspectives (e.g., by race, class, gender, region, and politics). In addition to helping students see that history relies on diverse, often disagreeing perspectives, this modular redesign intrinsically connects diversity and empathy to the course materials. Benton-Cohen challenged students to approach primary source material with critical empathy and avoid stereotyping the source subjects and points of view. In order to implement these goals, Benton-Cohen revised course materials, attached methodological practices to each module, and added small group assignments.
Matthew Carnes, S.J.
The Politics of Inequality
Father Matthew Carnes’ course redesign sought to make the phenomenon of inequality—across dimensions as diverse as income, wealth, race, gender, religion, and education—both intellectually comprehensible and personally meaningful to undergraduate students. The goal was to help students understand and grapple with their own place in an increasingly unequal world, allowing them to make choices and decisions about how they will structure their careers, family life, and other commitments. Father Carnes made frequent use of iClicker response devices that provided real-time feedback to implement this overarching goal. Not only did this allow him to track and adjust for student understanding, it also facilitated frequent opportunities for students to express, visualize, and critically examine their individual and collective opinions, as well as how they saw their own relationship to inequality. Students completed a series of writing assignments that encouraged them to articulate their emerging understanding and convictions about the course material. Through such assignments, students applied the theoretical frameworks from class to their own lives, to “implicate themselves” as citizens in an unequal world.
“This semester I came to appreciate just how challenging – but how valuable – it is to design a course that engages students on both an intellectual and personal level. This requires establishing an openness to both new academic material and to personal vulnerability, because it means that the process will change us. And this is as true for the students as it is for me.” — Matthew Carnes (Government)
Ilia Delio, O.S.F.
Facebook and Jesus: God, Computers & Future Life
Questions of diversity in a pluralistic society are compounded by the dynamic relationship between humans and technology and the role humans have begun to play vis-à-vis their own multiple evolutionary trajectories. The matrix created by cultural and technological control over evolution raises a host of difficult and unsettling questions with regard to identity and the diversity of human experience. Ilia Delio’s course Facebook and Jesus attempted to tackle these questions head-on. Delio set up the course around the rotation of small discussion groups with members playing differentiated roles. These groups operated on multiple levels both inside and outside of the classroom to analyze course material and collaborate on course projects. Continuous and rotating collaboration made conspicuous the diversity of the class itself, allowing this to be an ongoing theme for analysis. Additionally, Delio integrated several high-profile guest speakers who discussed further intersections between technology and identity.
“I learned as much, if not more, simply attending the Doyle fellows cohort meetings and listening to colleagues discuss different teaching techniques, as I did preparing exercises for my own class.” — Ilia Delio (Catholic Studies)
School of Foreign Service
As Mark Giordano led his students to discover throughout the semester, a complete analysis of the complicated conflicts spawned by water usage requires not just an examination of water as a limited, fundamental resource, but also an understanding of the diversity of human perspectives among all parties involved. Not only does diversity contribute to water tensions, but misunderstanding the needs and perspectives of others sharply exacerbates conflict. In addition to specific, targeted readings and case studies, Giordano made an effort throughout the semester to highlight both the diversity of perspectives integral to course material and the diversity of lives and human experience. Case studies ranged from macro-level, multi-national conflicts to local water politics in the D.C. community. Films and field trips were likewise interwoven with the material, and students enjoyed tours of the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Anacostia as well as a canal walk through Georgetown. Students learned about critical connections between the way humans use, manage, and fight over water, and the way this relates to such factors as class, race, culture, and lifestyles.
Maria Cristobalina Moreno
Spanish and Portuguese
Gateway to Linguistics
Maria Moreno’s Doyle experience proved that substantive engagement with diversity is possible even while satisfying other departmental curricular requirements. Preserving the course as an analysis of the fundamental structures of linguistics, Moreno incorporated a sociolinguistic focus on the people using the language. News articles, films, and assignments were added highlighting the links between ideology, language, and power, along with essay prompts asking students to reflect on these issues. Moreno designed the final essay to add a personal element, directing students to use intellectual frameworks from class to analyze their own socio-cultural experience with Spanish and the systems of privilege this experience manifested. Students also gave in-class presentations critically examining language policy and its impact on individuals’ sense of “self ” and “other.” Carefully-designed in-class discussions sustained these themes throughout the semester. Ultimately, students developed a vision of the science of language as a tool they could use to gain a more in-depth understanding of the dynamics that shape society and overall diversity of human experience.
Marc M. Howard
Prisons and Punishment
“I learned a great deal from our Doyle cohort conversations about teaching and pedagogy. It was fascinating and inspiring to be in a room filled with passionate teachers.” –Marc Howard (Government)
Marc Howard’s Prisons and Punishment course analyzed the issues surrounding the punitive nature of the U.S. criminal justice system through the lens of race—both historically and in the contemporary period. For his Doyle course, Howard significantly expanded and front-loaded the course’s exploration of race in order to ensure its function as a constant and primary theme. Additionally, work was done to redesign each class session to better incorporate multimedia and structured group discussion. Group discussions included metacognitive reflection and sessions on students’ own connection to the course material, later distilled in reflective essays. The course made use of documentaries, guest speakers, and the opportunity for students to take a field trip to a local prison. Howard’s time spent working with students before, during, and after the field trip ensured that their experience was not mere observation but that it contributed directly to course goals.
School of Foreign Service
Sports, Human Rights, and U.S. Foreign Relations
Theresa Keeley’s School of Foreign Service proseminar led students to explore diversity-related topics through a familiar vehicle: sports. Taken during the students’ first semester at Georgetown, the course was able to capitalize on their natural willingness to explore new perspectives. Of particular note was a unit focusing on the relationship between civil rights and anti-war movements. Keeley dynamically aligned readings, reflection, in-class discussion, a documentary, and an analytical paper in order to emphasize and explore these themes in multiple contexts. Doing so gave students the opportunity to develop a nuanced understanding of the controversial material and explore both their own and others’ perspectives. Additionally, individual students led thirty minutes of discussion during each session. Evidence based on student performance and reporting suggests the need to address issues of diversity early in the college experience. Keeley’s Doyle experience also convinced her of the importance of maintaining diversity as a semester-long theme in order to allow students a realistic opportunity to develop comfort and competence in addressing the complexities involved.
Women’s and Gender Studies Program
Introduction to Sexuality Studies
One of two introductory courses in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Introduction to Sexuality Studies is often students’ first encounter with thinking about sexuality in a scholarly context. Working with a course already focused on difference, Michelle Ohnona took advantage of her Doyle redesign to revise and test the efficacy of experiential learning exercises in the classroom to combine both affective and cognitive elements. Her goal was to create links between students and the experiences of those they are learning about. Class sessions incorporated theoretical readings, real-world case scenarios, experiential role-play, and collective debriefing. Elevated levels of student engagement together with the richness of subsequent discussion evidenced the degree to which these experiential class periods impacted student understanding, as well as students’ willingness to examine and challenge their preconceptions. Also, such exercises afforded Ohnona ample opportunity to observe the interpersonal dynamics operating in the classrooms. Finally, these experiential sessions served to demystify and render visible various mechanisms of social normalization, making them available to students for critical assessment
“I have come to recognize the increasing importance of including classroom exercises that teach empathy. Ours is a world that is saturated with information, and our students’ lives are full to the brim with facts, perspectives, reports, and opinions. Our students need more from us than information. If the education we offer is to be truly liberatory, it must do more.” — Michelle Ohnona (Women’s and Gender Studies)
Democracy and Education
Douglas Reed’s course, Democracy and Education, centered on a partnership with Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter School, in which Georgetown and Chavez students collaborated on a joint “civic actions” project aimed at bringing greater public awareness to the issue of D.C.’s lack of representation in Congress. This collaboration required careful design and execution in order to overcome significant logistical challenges, build rapport between the groups, and enable them to work in genuine partnership. Reed and his Chavez collaborators organized four separate trips during the semester to bring students together. The students used Google Groups and a joint website to help facilitate and showcase collaboration between these sessions. The projects culminated in meetings with Senate staffers on Capitol Hill to discuss the students’ work. In addition to adding the joint “civic actions” project to the course, Reed created a new final assignment—a program evaluation paper—in which Georgetown students reflected on what they had learned about issues of difference and diversity by working with their Chavez student partners.
Writing Within Washington
Carole Sargent’s course redesign looked to guide first-year students to read political literature for issues of diversity and difference, and in turn to use this exploration as a means to make visible their own political and perspectival blind spots. A major goal of the redesign was to create structures that encourage all students, regardless of background, to participate fully, and Sargent dedicated particular attention to various in-class exercises that elicit participation. As another major element of the course redesign, Sargent incorporated regular guest speakers to discuss their work writing government memoranda and political speeches. This creates the opportunity for students to hear these experts share their own approaches to diversity, which is inevitably a critical element in their writing careers. Sargent cited the key role the Doyle faculty cohort played in her course redesign and in her strategizing for future courses.
“The Doyle fellowship helped me frame my previous training [at another university] as prologue and see this historic present for what it is: a different university, a new set of students, and an opportunity to discuss issues in a way that works best now.” — Carole Sargent (Scholarly Publications)
Women’s and Gender Studies Program
For Elizabeth Velez, a key part of redesigning her Feminist Theory course was to “take into account the central tension of the class which is to align both Western (and often white) and non-Western, non-white ‘feminisms’ without privileging the former.” This process began with a significant examination and revision of course readings—not only bringing greater balance, but changing pedagogical emphasis in order to “center” non-Western readings. In particular, Velez sought to leverage readings that addressed race for productive in-class discussion. An early writing assignment in the course asked students to draw upon the theoretical frameworks they had studied in order to design their own feminist theory—one that explicitly took difference into account. Ultimately, Velez saw her involvement in Doyle as an initial step in an ongoing process. In the future, she hopes to more fully incorporate some of the innovative exercises she learned in the program, both in and out of the classroom.
Education, Inquiry, and Justice Program
Essentials of Effective Practice
Essentials of Effective Practice is a community-based learning (CBL) course that explores urban education in the U.S. and specifically in Washington, D.C. Sabrina Wesley-Nero redesigned the course goals to more effectively mine the triangle formed by students, course content, and the CBL experience. Specifically, Wesley-Nero added a systems thinking conceptual framework that helped the students situate their personal experience and CBL experience within a broader context. Wesley-Nero changed the CBL portion to create a partnership with D.C. public and public charter schools. Restructured assignments determined the extent to which students could articulate multiple influences on and definitions of school success and failure. Wesley-Nero gained concrete evidence of the impact made by this redesign through a pre- and post-essay prompt and an educational autobiography assignment. These assignments revealed a more nuanced and sophisticated grasp of the course’s theoretic models and their relation to both D.C. schools and the students’ own lives than had manifested in previous course iterations.
“This course revision helped the students situate their personal experience and community-based learning experience within a broader context; understand the landscape and the inter-relationships; and move beyond overly simplified knee-jerk responses to the material.” — Sabrina Wesley-Nero
Click here to access the full 2014-2015 Doyle Annual Report.
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