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Multidisciplinary Reflections

By Meghan Doherty

What were your expectations? 

I tried to go into my sessions with the students with very few expectations. This project was unlike any other classroom or collaborative experience I have had, so I did not want to bring expectations into it that didn’t fit the circumstances.

What pedagogical approaches did you decide to implement and why? 

I approached the class as a space for open dialogue, so I spent very little time lecturing and wanted instead to hear the students’ thoughts and reactions to the writing prompts and readings.

Do you think your approach was multidisciplinary? If so, how? 

My approach was multidisciplinary in a number of ways. I brought the tools of visual analysis to bear on images created in the pursuit of science. By asking the students to look closely at unfamiliar images, I wanted them to slow down and think about the process of making images for science and to step back and think about the ways in which bias can enter that process. Furthermore, by having them read essays from the history of science and museums studies, we brought a historical perspective into our discussion of how privilege and race effect scientific research.

Did your implementation go as expected? 

The students’ responses to the readings and engagement with the ideas was fabulous! I was thrilled with how they were willing to stretch their understandings of how race is deeply intertwined with science, art, and history.

What parts of the implementation were a surprise or unexpected? 

I was pleasantly surprised with how deeply the students engaged with the materials. This has been a long, hard year and the prospect of yet another online only class could have been discouraging for them. However, they came to the class sessions fully prepared and ready to stretch their understandings of what they knew about how race impacts science.

What would you do differently next time? 

I’m not sure this experience could ever be replicated. Although we had not originally planned to meet throughout the spring semester, I think that those meetings were critical to the success of the project as they gave the faculty a chance to get to know one another and learn from each other’s approaches to the questions.

How did this experience impact your future teaching approaches?

This experience has encouraged me to foreground they ways in which the history of science is deeply intertwined with the history of white, male privilege.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Thanks so much for sticking with this project even when things seemed to fall apart!

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