Meet the 2020-2021 Coordinators

Julius L. Jones is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at The University of Chicago, where his scholarly interests include twentieth-century United States Social, Cultural, and Urban History. His dissertation, “‘Ain’t Gonna Tarry Here Long’: African American Aspiration in Chicago, 1933–1968,” explores the idea that African Americans are the products of a culture that limits them on the basis of their race while simultaneously propagating notions of limitless possibilities and opportunities. This dichotomy creates liminal spaces between possibility and limitation, or sites of aspiration, where African Americans have sought not only to break down racial barriers to achieve success but to assert their right to define success for themselves. Currently, Julius serves as an Assistant Curator at the Chicago History Museum, where he develops exhibition content, conducts research, seeks new acquisitions, and speaks on a variety of Chicago history topics. He also serves as a lecturer in the Department of Black Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and in the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences at The University of Chicago. He can be reached at jljones2@uchicago.edu.

Allison Kanner-Botan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Divinity School and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Her research interests include medieval literature, orality, and storytelling; Islamic philosophy and mysticism; love theory; and gender and sexuality studies. She is continuously fascinated by the question of how new subjects (women, animals, religious others) entered into medieval literature, and what impact the introduction of their subjectivities had on overall literary taste. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor adventures and making appetizing messes in the kitchen. She can be reached at akanbot@uchicago.edu.

Christina Roman is a 6th year Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Ph.D. candidate. Her research in the Piccirilli lab is focused on solving RNA structures using synthetic crystallographic chaperones. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in Science Policy where she can apply her analytical and communication skills to addressing complicated societal challenges. Thus far she has spent much of her graduate career leading student organizations (GRIT, SACNAS, BDC) aimed at developing the diversity and inclusion programing on campus and improving the culture around equity in STEM. She finds that equitable stem education and training relies on advocating for students needs and building a broader understanding of student experiences in educators and principle investigators. Pedagogical theory provides a helpful framework to communicate and study the ways racial dynamics influence teaching and learning. Over the course of this year she hopes that what she’s learned about working towards racial and gender equity in the sciences can be used more broadly in the varied academic disciplines practiced at the University of Chicago. She can be reached at chroman@uchicago.edu.

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Welcome!

Welcome to the website of the Race and Pedagogy Working Group at the University of Chicago! We are a community of teachers and scholars committed to promoting racial justice in higher education. The Working Group offers events and programs each quarter for all teachers from across all divisions in the University to reflect on the ways in which race enters their classrooms, to learn practical strategies for developing antiracist classrooms, curricula, syllabi and teaching practices, and to discuss the historical and ongoing impact of race and racism in higher education.

You can use this site to learn more about what we do, find out about our upcoming events, scroll through documentation of past events, and explore our growing list of resources for developing new approaches to race in the classroom. Please join our listserv to receive regular updates about our schedule of programs and events for 2020-2021, and like us on Facebook.

In 2020-2021, the coordinators of the Working Group are Allison Kanner-Botan (akanbot@uchicago.edu), Christina Roman (chroman@uchicago.edu), and Julius L. Jones (jljones2@uchicago.edu). We are supervised by Cheryl R. Richardson, PhD (richardsonc@uchicago.edu). We welcome your questions as well as any ideas for future programs.

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Fall 2020 Event: Virtual Town Hall on Race at The University of Chicago

On December 3rd from 6-7:30pm, the University of Chicago Race and Pedagogy working group will host a virtual Town Hall on race at the University of Chicago. This event is focused on student learning experiences specifically; we aim to provide a space to check-in with our student community where they can share their experiences with the content of coursework, the climate of the university community, and the composition of our community as it relates to race. Advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the university are welcome, and encouraged, to attend, but we ask that faculty, staff, and administrators refrain from offering commentary and instead take this opportunity to listen to what students have to say.We expect to discuss the following broad topics:

  • How race is or isn’t taught in core Uchicago classes.
  • The experiences of racialized people in Uchicago classrooms and what has changed with the onset of virtual learning.
  • Specific concerns students have around how issues of race are dealt with at the university.
  • Hopes that students have for how the university will engage with topics/issues of race in the future.

This event is a starting point to a deeper investigation by the Race and Pedagogy Working group into how Uchicago does and does not meet the learning needs of its community and in what specific ways the university can improve.

Please fill out the form below to register for the town hall: https://forms.gle/fQbbvtZxsJHzKAmC8

You can also use this form to sign up to participate in a focus group, which will delve deeply into participants learning experiences across divisions and investigate the role race has played in their education. From the focus group we, the Race and Pedagogy Working group, will create a report with a set of recommendations for University of Chicago faculty and administrators. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you on December 3rd!

Upcoming Series: Whiteness in the Classroom

TUESDAY, FEB. 11: 3-5PM

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 26: 12-2PM

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 11: 12-2PM

The RPWG is partnering with the Chicago Center for Teaching (CCT), with funding from UChicago Grad Council, to host a three-part workshop on white supremacy in higher education. Our initial event will be held on Tuesday, February 11 from 3pm to 5pm in Wieboldt 310 D/E.

The three-part workshop–co-facilitated by CCT fellows Helen Lee and Elizabeth Sartell with support from the RPWG coordinators–is intended to help participants examine and dismantle their complicity in the oppressive system of white supremacy — particularly in relation to their pedagogical role(s) within higher education — using Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook. The workshops will serve as an introduction to the workbook (which is meant to be completed over the course of 28 days) and a mechanism for accountability, as well as a space for collective processing.

Participants should be prepared to fully participate in the self-work and reflection necessary to understand their own self-identity with regard to whiteness, and to begin the concrete and ongoing work necessary to engage in the classroom as an anti-racist teacher. In the second and third meetings, participants will build on their own self-reflections to think about whiteness in the classroom, its implications for students, and what they as educators can do to interrupt and challenge white supremacy in the classroom. While these events are open to all, the workbook activities are particularly relevant for those who hold white privilege* and are committed to engaging in substantial self-reflection and change. The strategies for interrupting white supremacy in the classroom, however, will be collectively generated and should be relevant to all participants.

All sessions will take place in Wieboldt 310 D/E (housed in the Chicago Center for Teaching).

All participants will receive a copy of the workbook and a meal at each session. We therefore require that participants commit to attending all three workshops and completing the workbook independently. Please register in advance on the EventBrite page, so that we can ensure the correct amount of materials and food. For more information, visit our Facebook page.

Sponsored by UChicago Graduate Council, the Chicago Center for Teaching (CCT), the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC), and UChicagoGRAD.

Fall 2019 Event: What Does an Anti-Racist Classroom Look Like?

On October 23, 2019, graduate student instructors, faculty, and community members gathered for a discussion on pedagogical practices that promote anti-racism in the classroom.

For college teachers, race and pedagogy can intersect in a variety of ways: by virtue of teaching in multiracial classrooms; through our teaching practices; through the subject matter we teach and the curricular decisions we make; and through the structures and dynamics of the institutions in which we teach. Grounded in works by Ibram X. Kendi and Victoria S. Haviland, the event led to a broader discussion on accounting for these dynamics in a classroom setting. Participants in this discussion took the first step towards a shared understanding of best practices for creating a more inclusive learning environment.

Race & Pedagogy @ the Smart Museum

On Friday, May 17th, the Race & Pedagogy Working Group coordinated an event with the Smart Museum of Art. This event focused on how to use art and imagery as a pedagogical tool to discuss race and culture. A discussion was led by Dr. Issa Lampe – Deputy Director for Academic and Curatorial Affairs at the Smart Museum, Berit Ness – Assistant Curator for Academic Initiatives, and Leslie Wilson – Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts.

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Dr. Lampe went over basic conversational prompts for engaging with works of visual art. Her strategy starts off by taking three minutes of silence to examine a work of art before discussing it. This, she emphasized, is important for developing an interpretive and critical conversation about the art. After three minutes of observations, students can be asked to build a “visual inventory” of the work. This includes asking students about what visually strikes them in the work, whether it be form, subject(s), colors, framing, etc.

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As students build a visual inventory, the instructor can then begin to further engage students by asking them to extrapolate themes and meaning beyond the artwork that can be supported by visual evidence that is within in artwork. It’s important that the instructor provokes thought and participation by asking students their stances on previously mentioned interpretations and mirroring students’ points by repeating and rephrasing what students say in order to validate their input and help clarify their ideas. As the discussion progresses, the instructor can reveal further background information about the artist and the artwork to shift conversation and/or connect to topics discussed in lecture.

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Following this discussion, attendees talked amongst one another about how to apply these techniques in their courses and resources to help instructors utilize art as a tool to teach race. The event helped to establish some collaborations between instructors that we hope to see implemented in the classroom really soon!

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Race & Pedagogy @ the Smart Museum

Event Title: Race & Pedagogy @ the Smart Museum
Date: Friday, May 17th
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Smart Museum of Art – 5550 S Greenwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

Join the Race and Pedagogy Working Group and Natasha Ritsma, Academic Engagement Coordinator at the Smart Museum, and Issa Lampe, Director of the Feitler Center, for a workshop on how to productively teach concepts of race and identity using visual culture and works of art. This workshop is designed around the Smart’s current exhibits “Solidary & Solitary” and “Smart to the Core: Embodying the Self.”

Teaching visual culture and race presents unique challenges for instructors, as well as many unique advantages and opportunities. This workshop will engage with strategies from museum instructors and curators, and ask questions about how teachers from various fields might use works of art to lead students through the complex intersections of personal experience and scholarly understanding that often arise in conversations that involve racially triggering imagery and cultural stereotypes.

Diverse by Design: Crafting Inclusive Syllabi

On Wednesday, March 6th, we held our Diverse by Design: Crafting Inclusive Syllabi event. The event consisted of panelists introducing their syllabi to an audience and discussing how they incorporate race into the core of their syllabus. Panelists offered many insightful methods of doing this, including tailoring content to the demographics of the student body, evenly dispersing diverse and cultural content throughout the course (as to not tokenize the content), increase accessibility of course content (utilizing various forms to deliver content, i.e. video, music, etc.), and many others. Examples of utilizing these methods were shown in the context of English, medical sociology, and cinema studies and can be applied to many other fields in the social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences.

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Following the presentation of the syllabi of the panelists, attendees participated in a gallery walk of syllabi that were works in progress. Participants rotated amongst three tables and discussed syllabus structure and content with the instructors, offering suggestions and feedback. Instructors and participants found the discussion very fruitful, so much so that it was hard to get people to rotate to the next table! Overall the event was quite successful, and we thank all that came and shared their knowledge and perspective on making a more inclusive syllabus.

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Diverse by Design: Crafting Inclusive Syllabi

The Race and Pedagogy Working Group Presents:

“Diverse by Design: Crafting Inclusive Syllabi”
Wed., March 6th, 5:00-7:00pm

Center for Identity + Inclusion, Community Lounge (1st floor)

5710 S. Woodlawn Ave.

(Please note the updated location for the event)

Dinner will be served

This event is designed to help current and future instructors design and develop more inclusive course syllabi or diversify existing ones, including language that facilitates the creation of an inclusive classroom, as well as content that teaches essential understanding while exposing students to works beyond the canon.
Featured Panelists:
– Rachel Kyne (English, Postdoctoral Humanities Teaching Fellow)
– Robert Vargas (Sociology, Assistant Professor)
– Nova Smith (Cinema & Media Studies, PhD Candidate)
– Julie Orlemanski (English, Assistant Professor)
Concluding w/ reflections by Eugene Raikhel (Comparative Human Development, Associate Professor)

Following the panel, participants will engage in a Gallery Walk, reviewing syllabi-in-progress from other graduate instructors, with a focus on applying techniques or strategies from the panel to drafts of syllabi for future courses.

Please RSVP for the event on Facebook by clicking this link.

Inclusive Teaching in STEM with Dr. Kimberly Tanner

On February 26, 2019, Dr. Kimberly Tanner paid a visit to the University of Chicago for our Inclusive Teaching in STEM event. Dr. Tanner is a tenured Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University and leads the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL), which investigates the challenges of learning in STEM classrooms, how scientists chose to teach content of their disciplines, and how to make equity, diversity, and inclusion central to science education efforts. For our event, she led a discussion of her paper as well as a workshop titled “Structure Matters: Engaging Students and Making Classrooms Fair and Inclusive Cross-Disciplinary Strategies and Language to Promote Student Success.” The event was widely attended by graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, instructors, staff, and other affiliates of the Biological Sciences Division, Physical Sciences Division, and Institute for Molecular Engineering.

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In the paper discussion, Dr. Tanner introduced how structuring learning environments promotes fairness and access for all students. Improving structure within a classroom can be accomplished in numerous ways, and participants discussed 21 teaching strategies to promote student engagement, classroom equity, and inclusion, as outlined in the paper. The discussion weighed the pros and cons of each strategy, and how execution of each strategy may be contingent upon classroom size, observed student engagement, student demographics, and other factors. Dr. Tanner also mentioned that these strategies can not only be applied in the classroom but other academic settings, such as group/lab meetings, conferences, faculty meetings, seminars, and grant meetings.

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During the workshop, participants grouped into teams and were provided with materials to construct a mobile. Each team presented their mobile to the rest of the workshop participants, and it was during this time it became evident some groups had different starting materials; some groups even had to work without scissors, markers, and other materials to make their mobile. During the debriefing of this activity, participants discussed their awareness of some groups not having the same materials and the implications of this. It was considered how the experience from this activity parallels how students experience classrooms differently from one another, and how these factors should be considered in our approach of teaching.

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We again would like to thank Dr. Tanner for leading this workshop and discussion and providing us with many resources to learn and practice inclusive teaching. We would also like to thank the BSD Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Chicago Center for Teaching (CCT), IME Dean’s Advisory Council, and our CCT fellows for their assistance for making this event possible. For more resources on inclusive teaching in the sciences, please visit our Resources page.

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– Evelyn Campbell (2018-2019 RPWG Coordinator)

Upcoming Event: Inclusive Teaching in STEM

Please join us on Tuesday, February 26th for our event on Inclusive Teaching in STEM. We will be having guest speaker Dr. Kimberly Tanner, science education advocate and Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University, leading a paper discussion and interactive workshop (lunch included)! All are welcomed to attend. Information and flier for the event are as follows:

Tuesday, February 26th
William Eckhardt Research Center, Room 161
5640 South Ellis Avenue Chicago, IL 60637
10 – 11am: Paper Discussion with Dr. Tanner
11:30am – 1:30pm: Workshop with lunch
Link to RSVP

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This event is supported by the BSD Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Chicago Center for Teaching, and the IME Dean’s Advisory Council. If you have any questions regarding the event, please contact Evelyn Campbell at campbelle@uchicago.edu.

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