2022 Classroom Connections

Coordination with Course Assignments:

The conference is free and all events can be accessed quickly for participation.  The overall conference theme and threads have a strong interdisciplinary and intersectional lens which likely overlap with much of your coursework.

Here are some ideas for creating assignments:

  1. View and comment on 3 pre-recorded conference talks or poster presentations.
  2. View the virtual art exhibition and comment on the connections between each artist’s work and themes relating to gender, race, and intersectionality.
  3. Attend one synchronous plenary or keynote and connect the content to larger course themes.
  4. Attend the virtual roundtable featuring research from GWS students across the UW System.  Provide feedback on one project and the connections you see with your own work.

*All assignments could include the following inquiries:

  1. What are common themes relating to social justice, institutional resistance, and intersectional feminist activism?
  2. How have the events of the past year defined and altered feminist engagement with the current social, political, historical, and cultural terrain? How are activists and scholars deconstructing, decolonizing, and reimagining life and society in new ways?
  3. How is creative work a feminist tool of inquiry, knowledge production, and critical resistance?
  4. How does a broadly defined vision of care expand and complement our work as researchers, students, educators, and activists?
  5. How does the space of the conference offer a different arena for sharing and connecting with others? What are the opportunities and limits of this type of space for thought exchange, dialogue, and feminist activism?

Reflective Questions and Creative Engagement Ideas Based on Conference Threads and Themes

***Thank you to students in WGS 799: Feminist Pedagogy at UW-Milwaukee for generating the following questions in collaboration with Dr. Krista Grensavitch.  

These questions are great tools for classroom discussion, supporting the reflective research process, and organizing praxis around intersectional, feminist frameworks.

Refusing the Colonial State

  • Identify and research one example of a grassroots effort aimed at deconstructing one colonial norm. Compile 3-5 sources about the effort/issue. Provide an assessment of this grassroots effort considering some of the following elements: community-driven; sustainable; gender-diverse; restorative; care-focused systemic change led by the global majority; alliances across complex differences; power geometries. 

Crip Resistance in a Post-COVID World

  • What does it mean “to crip” something? How can we crip knowledge production and knowledge sharing, and make these conversations accessible to everyone? How can cripping contribute to de-medicalization, the uplifting of marginalized voices, and education as liberation?
  • How did your care needs, or those of the folks around you, change during the pandemic? How did you collectively meet these changing access needs? What did you learn from this/how has this transformed the way you live, care for others, and are cared for yourself? How can we continue to engage in these access and care practices post-pandemic?
  • [Worksheet] Reflect on the many ways you are interdependent with others–on the family/friend level, on the community level, on the society level, on the global level. At each level, make a list of the needs that you depend on other individuals or systems to meet. What does this teach us about interdependency and the myth of individualism?

Queering Praxis, Expressions, and Activism

  • What does it mean to imagine a “queer future”? What does a queer future look like? How is a queer future different from our present? How is it similar?
  • Many constructions of queerness in America are constructed and understood via profoundly eurocentric models but identity is something that is constructed within an individual’s specific context, how can those models be resisted or uprooted? How can we understand queerness in a global sense?
  • Even if you wouldn’t use the word queer as an adjective or identity term to describe yourself, how can we engage in “queering” as a verb and/or engage in queer resistance, in our everyday lives and relationships?
  • How can we queer knowledge production and knowledge sharing, and make these conversations accessible to everyone? How can this queering contribute to de-medicalization, the uplifting of marginalized voices, and education as liberation?
  • How can we explore the broad potentialities of queer theory (applied to concepts outside of or not limited by queer identity) while remaining grounded in the lived experiences, activism, and liberation of queer-identified folks?

Assignments/Creative Engagement Ideas: Google jam board session discussing queering spaces

  • Discuss what queering spaces might look like. What does it mean to “queer” something? 
  • What does “queering” your own educational space look like? What are some things that need queering? (example – what would it look like to “queer” public bathrooms?) 
  • What are some ways we can queer the grading systems we have in place? 
  • What are some problematics in the grading letter system? How can we resolve this?
  • How can we queer a space wherein other identities feel completely comfortable? 
  • What are some ideas within your own classroom on how you can do that

Global Migration, Identity, and Freedom

Discussion/Writing Questions: 

  • What is the Global North? What is the Global South? How do these two hemispheres differ? What is the Global North known for? What is the Global South known for?
  • Why do we no longer use the terms, “first world”, “second world”, and “third world”? 
    • Where do those terms come from? 
    • What is the difference between using “first world” and “Global North”? 
    • What is the difference between using “third world” or “developing country” and “Global South”? 
  • How does migration impact women-identified people differently? You can think, for example, of the experiences of women who are detained by ICE or await deportation in detention centers. You can also think of the actual experience of physically crossing a border. What do women-identified people in particular experience? Why is this important to know?
  • How does migration impact LGBTQ+ and queer folks differently? You can think of, for example, the experiences of LGBTQ+ and queer folks who are detained by ICE or await deportation in detention centers. You can also think of the actual experience of physically crossing a border. What do LGBTQ+ and queer folks in particular experience? Does it overlap with the experiences of women-identified people? Why is this important to know?
  • What is a border and how does it operate? 
    • Are they more than arbitrary lines on a piece of paper? 
    • How do borders assert claims to territory and empire? 

Assignments/Creative Engagement Ideas:

  • The Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 excluded all Chinese immigrants from arriving in the United States, with the exception of those who already had a relative who was an American citizen. This created thousands of “paper sons and daughter,” people who arrived at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay claiming to be the son or daughter of a Chinese migrant worker in California. Because of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, many records were destroyed, and Chinese migrant workers were able to claim citizenship as there was no proof to the contrary. If you were a paper son or daughter, what details about your “parent” would you try to memorize? Make a list, keeping in mind the reason/s why you would want to memorize these details. 
  • There is a choose-your-own-adventure type game called Syrian Journey: Choose Your Own Escape Route here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32057601. This can teach folks and young college students about the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as the push and pull factors of migration.
  • Read this comic: https://www.zpvisual.com/comics#/river-history/ 
    • After reading this, what did you learn about the Mexican-American border? How has this affected the environment and people? How has this created socio economic issues? 

Climate Justice and Ecofeminisms

Discussion/Writing Questions: 

  • What are some common terms we use to describe the environment? (example – mother nature)
    • How do these terms reinforce a gender binary?
    • How might these terms relate to our current climate issues?
    • How could changing our language on the climate impact how we understand our current climate issues?
  • How does feminism relate to climate justice? 
    • What are some examples of ecofeminisms?

Assignments/Creative Engagement Ideas:

  • What is a key environmental issue taking place in your neighborhood, town, city or state? 
    • Spend some time researching this environmental issue and then discuss how it might intersect with other forms of oppression based on gender identity, race, nationality, sexual identity, socioeconomic status and/or ability status, and other identity categories. 
    • Write down five tangible steps you can take to get involved in community efforts relating to this environmental issue.
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer is a Native American scientist who is State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.
    • After watching this guided nature tour and reading this article, what did you learn about the environment and our relationship with the land? What new perspectives do you have?  
    • Discuss the knowledge Professor Kimmerer imparts from an ecofeminist perspective. You might like to reflect on the need for new approaches to environmentalism and environmental policy, the importance of Indigenous knowledge and teaching, decolonization, and feminist and Indigenous approaches to science.

Pedagogies of Care and Equity

Discussion/Writing Questions: 

  • Reflect: How have your self-care practices changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? Who/what has influenced these changes? How have these changes impacted your experiences in the classroom? Your personal life? Your work life?
  • Research: What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)? Define SoTL and discuss three characteristics you believe are important.
  • Research & Reflect: What are High Impact Practices (HIPs), and why are they important?
    • Discuss three elements of HIPs and explain why you believe they are important. 
    • Identify one HIP you have experienced in the classroom and reflect on your learning experience. How did your instructor using this HIP impact you and your learning?
    • How can educators adapt HIPs to focus on self-care, empathy, and wellbeing in the classroom? Select one HIP and discuss how an educator might adapt the practice to prioritize self-care, empathy, and/or students’ wellbeing. 
  • Apply: Drawing from one of the presentations you viewed, how can we integrate self-care, empathy, and a focus on wellbeing into settings beyond the classroom in 1) our personal lives and 2) our professional lives?
  • Research: What career path or life goals do you intend to pursue in the next 5-10 years? What are some key conversations taking place about how this field or initiative could be more equitable, in terms of race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or ability status? You might like to think about both higher education contexts and professionalization opportunities/workplace settings.
  • Reflect: Think of a time when you felt othered or excluded in an educational or workplace setting because of your identity/identities. What attitudes, behaviors, practices, and structures could be changed to create a more inclusive learning or workplace environment?

Assignments/Creative Engagement Ideas:

  • Journal: Select one 20-30 minute self-care practice that you can incorporate into each day for one week. Your self-care practices might include an activity you already love or something you have always wanted to try (e.g., exercising, drawing, writing, building something, playing an instrument, reading, cooking/baking, learning a new language, crafting). Your self-care activity should be life-giving and leave you feeling refreshed. Engage in your self-care practice/activity every day for one week. At the end of the week, journal about your experience. Some questions to consider in your reflection might include: 
    • What practice/activity did you select for the week?
    • Describe how it felt doing your self-care activity every day. Was every day a different experience, or did each day feel the same? Why do you think that is? 
    • What challenges did you encounter when engaging in your self-care practice/activity?
    • Compare the first day of doing your self-care practice and the last day. How were your experiences on these days different? 
    • Describe your attitude and mindset surrounding your self-care practice/activity. Did this change throughout the week? If so, how? 
    • What did you learn about yourself this week? 
    • Were you surprised by any aspect of engaging in your self-care practice? 
    • Do you think you will continue to prioritize self-care practices in your daily life? Why or why not? 
  • Apply: Work in small groups to generate recommendations for self-care in various contexts based on one (or multiple) conference presentations.
  • Equity in the classroom:
    In ‘How to Tame a Wild Tongue,’ Gloria Anzaldúa writes: “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue – my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.”

    • Choose a word or phrase that your family uses regularly – this could be your literal family or a chosen family of people who share a similar identity with you. Write for 10 minutes celebrating this word or phrase. What does this word/phrase mean to you? How does it make you feel? Write about a memory where you or someone close to you used that word/phrase. What does it mean to you in terms of your cultural heritage, race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and/or ability status? How does it help you celebrate your identity?
  • In June 2021, the Conference on College Composition and Communication released its Statement on White Language Supremacy: “White language supremacy (WLS) is an implementation of white supremacy, particularly within educational institutions. Contextualized within present exigencies, antiracist educators must work alongside students, communities, and institutions to push for the dismantling of WLS because of its deleterious effects on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), domination and dehumanization of all people, and its detrimental effects to our environment and its resources.
    • After reading the statement, reflect on some ways in which WLS affects your classroom or field. These may be apparent in professor or student behavior, classroom discussions, textbooks and other texts used in class, terminology used in your field, or in classroom grading practices. 
    • What are some ways that WLS could be dismantled in your classroom or field? 
    • What are some other anti-racist strategies that could make your classroom more equitable? This list from the University of Michigan’s Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs has some great ideas: https://mesa.umich.edu/article/10-ways-be-anti-racist )
  • In-class meditation and self-reflection: 
    • 5 minutes at the beginning and end of each class period to work on self reflection and/or meditate. This will be a time in which soft music would play and it would be a quiet time and safe space for people to connect with themselves. As students, it is easy to make the excuse of not having time with all of our other responsibilities, so having time carved out in a space where it is already a part of our schedules would be beneficial. 
    • Everyday would be a new prompted self reflection for those who choose that option during this 10 minute total time to practice self-care. The environment of it being in a classroom provides benefits to the students and professors, as care and equity in any field is being seen as more and more important, especially amidst the pandemic

***Students in WGS 799: Feminist Pedagogy at UW-Milwaukee will serve as curriculum consultants/instructional design consultants in collaboration with instructor Dr. Krista Grensavitch for this aspect of the conference!  The class generated all discussion questions, creative assignments, and writing prompts for the conference.*****


Thank you for your support of this annual event!  Instructors will need to complete a free register for the conference (registration opens in January 2022) to gain access to content to share with class, but you can then share all events and links with your class!