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Fall Celebration of Teaching and Learning

In the week leading up to the start of the fall semester, MCTL gathered in the Hoffman House to share inspiration and reconnect after a year of mostly remote teaching. There were three panel discussions that were well attended by faculty (both in person and via Zoom), as well as time to socialize and meet new faculty. Muhlenberg faculty can watch the recording of the event here.

The first panel explored hopeful moments that emerged from our time teaching during the pandemic. For example, Eileen McEwan recounted her experience teaching online from France and how it provided her French language students with a direct connection to the country. “Technology is opening up my ability to reconnect with space and how I can use that space to make better connections to my course materials,” said McEwan.

Without any dance productions in the fall, Megan Flynn needed a solution for her dance courses. Enter ChoreoLab–a Zoom space where students could practice and share their choreography and get feedback. The virtual format also allowed faculty, family and friends to join. “The idea that ChoreoLab opened up about who can participate is something I want to continue to use by providing some sort of virtual component,” said Flynn.

Soon after Harry Simon Salazar found out he was hired as a Media & Communication professor, the pandemic shut everything down and he was forced to delay his plans to move across the country from California. However, this allowed him to include virtual field trips for his Documentary Research class, including a trip to the U.S./Mexico border that he broadcasted via Zoom using his cellphone.

The second panel explored the work that was started last year to bring antiracist teaching to the classroom–the College provided summer grants to faculty to support their work and they gave an update on their progress. For example, librarian Jess Denke used the grant to examine how teaching critical information literacy emphasizes the ways that power and privilege influence our experiences with information and explored flipped instruction as an antiracist teaching method. Linda McGuire worked on developing a course called mathematics for social justice. “Mathematics is a discipline in abstraction, so the question was what kind of abstract mathematics would be useful and can abstraction in its own right be useful in antiracist mathematics,” explained McGuire. “We wanted to develop a 100-level course where students could use college level math as window and a mirror to see their communities and themselves examining everything from voting and gerrymandering to big data, fairness in game theory and credit card debt.” She plans to offer the course this Spring. The music department is currently working on a widespread curriculum revision in response to a letter from concerned students. “We were all raised in this European tradition,” explained Andrew Ardizzoia. “The bandaid for the last 30 years is additive—add a world music course, add a section on non-Western music. We decided to look at the ways in which we center one tradition at the expense of others.” They will be adding courses and changing names of courses to reflect their European/Western such as changing Music Theory to Chromatic Music. The psychology department’s research methods course is undergoing a shift as well. Erika Bagley and Alexandra Frazer re-focused the course to highlight ethical reasoning and decision making, to make a more explicit connection between the course material and its purpose beyond the classroom and to help students grapple with their identities and the ways in which it impacts their work and research.

The final panel explored courses that have successfully incorporated a community engagement component in a range of disciplines from public health, dance, biology and psychology.

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