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Katherine Marshall leads a seminar


Doyle Program Promotes Student and Faculty Growth, Professors Say

May 1, 2018

Universities across the country, together with our society more generally, are grappling with a multitude of difficult questions related to engaging diversity—including what it means to do so. The Doyle Faculty Fellows Program, a signature element of the Doyle Engaging Difference Program, convenes a cohort of faculty for 14 months to wrestle with these questions and their implications for our university community. Rather than just discussing ideas, each faculty member commits to redesigning a specific class to engage their students on questions of diversity through their disciplinary lens. The fellowship was introduced in 2009, and thus far, 125 faculty members have participated as fellows, with some fellows returning more than once.

Now in its ninth year, the Doyle Faculty Fellows Program continues to bring a disciplinarily diverse cohort of Georgetown faculty together to explore pedagogical interventions and promote student engagement with difference. The program's monthly cohort meetings create community for fellows both to engage in serious discussion on specific, diversity-related topics of interest and to workshop and refine their course redesign with support and feedback from colleagues. 

The monthly meetings draw from a series of readings selected based on participants’ interests. These serve as the focus for cohort discussions co-facilitated by different faculty fellows each month and are intended to enhance the course redesign process by highlighting connections between emergent themes from different disciplines—including pedagogical scholarship—and the specific courses on which faculty are working. Additionally, case study discussions, oriented around individual fellows’ courses, serve as an opportunity each month for fellows to dive into a specific aspect of their course to share their innovative work and receive creative feedback from their colleagues.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Fellows come from all disciplines, including those not traditionally associated with exploring issues of difference. Mun Chun (MC) Chan’s (Biology) Doyle course goal for Biological Chemistry, which ran in both fall 2017 and spring 2018, is to build students’ sense of science as created, situated knowledge accepted by certain societies at certain periods in time, and therefore contestable. Chan contends that diversity within science is critical and that a diversity of perspectives enriches and advances the field as a whole because, as he notes, “a scientist’s individual character, background, and way of thinking affects the science they do.”

Fellows come from all disciplines, including those not traditionally associated with exploring issues of difference.

Toward this goal, Chan designed a series of biographical case studies that informed classroom activities and paired with the lab component of his course. The components of his course emphasized the sociopolitical context of the scientific principles forming the basis of his course and highlighting the diverse—and often conflicting—perspectives in the field.

C. Wakaba Futamura (French and Francophone Studies) redesigned her Advanced French Grammar and Writing class in fall 2017 as a community-based learning (CBL) course to attend to her Doyle goals. Futamura harnessed the CBL structure in order to deepen student engagement with the issue of immigration and French-speaking societies outside the mainstream. Students not only spent 20 hours volunteering at local schools with English-language learner students of immigrant background, but also maintained a reflective journal about their community engagement and shifting ideas on human migration.

“Even today, France may be perceived as the epicenter of the corresponding language and culture," says Futamura. "Yet I take a postcolonial stance via which I examine distinct sociocultural identities globally that share the French language but have recreated and (re)claimed their Francophone-ness as their own."

Student and Faculty Growth

The Doyle cohort model encourages growth for both fellows and students. “The process of sharing, wrestling with, and brainstorming collaboratively about ideas for teaching on themes of diversity has been incredibly meaningful and encouraging for me as an educator,” Futamura says. “The supportive feedback I received fostered new ideas and boosted my confidence in pushing myself and my students outside of our comfort zone in order to more meaningfully and deeply engage in issues about diversity. Ideally, every Georgetown educator should have the opportunity to be part of a Doyle Faculty Fellows cohort, which truly is a gem.”

Ideally, every Georgetown educator should have the opportunity to be part of a Doyle Faculty Fellows cohort, which truly is a gem.

This process of creative engagement between fellows doesn't stop with the end of the fellowship year; it continues with open gatherings for all past fellows to continue to connect around issues of pedagogy and diversity. 

This article—which originally appeared in The Prospect, a publication of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown Universitywas written by Adam Leader-Smith and Ijeoma Njaka.