Over the past fourteen years, I have developed and taught fifteen trans-disciplinary undergraduate courses across three universities and colleges to students in more than forty-five majors and disciplines. Some of these were co-taught with faculty from across a range of disciplines, including computer science, art, engineering, American studies, women’s studies, and English.
These courses included hands-on, structured, yet open assignments to engage students with different modes and methods of knowledge production. My focus on active learning is part of a broader curriculum that incorporates an intersectional set of course readings, short lectures alongside student-led discussions, individual consultations, and class workshops that include co-learning, skill-sharing and peer-brainstorming.
A few recent assignments:
So you think you can’t dance is a curriculum to teach software-coding concepts through dance for students to learn how information becomes structural knowledge. Students learned basic programming concepts and applied them within a self-choreographed dance performance, enabling them to understand how algorithms and other coding practices can reproduce real-world categorizations, and change people’s lived experiences. This program has become a core part of our foundational course, with seven cohorts of students already learning through it.
Cooking for the Apocalypse: students in my “Designing the Post-Apocalypse” course described their own apocalyptic worlds, and created full meal plans and a guide for scavenging and making these foods in their world. As a class, we combined story-worlds and recipes to create one cohesive plan. We met at the local grocery store to gather items needed, and returned to campus to cook over an open flame. One student designed and built a cardboard oven, which was used to bake cookies, while others prepped the food and began cooking. Students gained valuable experience in thinking through the details of living in post-apocalyptic worlds, including the ones some of us live in today.
Collective Spaceship Design, a midterm: students spent the first half of the semester collectively designing a decolonized spaceship to consider potential futures both off- and on-earth. Students designed their work through discussions of intersectional course readings, sketches and cardboard structures, and the creation of new policies and procedures for these new places. Students then evaluated and redesigned their work through discussions and peer-review, with faculty feedback, and students’ own critical analysis of their work to understand their knowledge practices. Students learned that designing knowledge means understanding that our seemingly unremarkable, everyday built environment, policies, and procedures also control access to information and bodies, rendering some places and ways of knowing more accessible than others.
Some older pedagogical writing can be found at Hastac: