I want to teach. Having an interdisciplinary background (American Studies), a wide range of interests, but limited teaching experience, combined with a highly competitive job market, limited opportunities, and a trend away from survey classes, I find myself applying to teach a wide-range of specific subjects (in after-school, college prep, and undergraduate programs). As a job seeker, teacher, and nonprofit program coordinator, every time I have worked on curriculum for an interdisciplinary class or program it feels like I am re-inventing the wheel. Thanks largely in part to the internet and digital archives, an abundance of scholarship and journalism are more easily accessible than ever, so that is an extreme help. But how to teach interdisciplinary studies has seemed like a solitary endeavor.
This is why I am interested in Digital Humanities. Luke Waltzer in “Digital Humanities and the ‘Ugly Stepchildren’ of American Higher Education” in the anthology Debates in the Digital Humanities explains how DH’s core characteristic of collaboration helps with pedagogy, including curriculum design. In its title, “Ugly Stepchildren” is referring to “pedagogy, curriculum development, and the scholarship of teaching,” as identified by Prof. Steven Brier. Waltzer mentions some curriculum sharing and curriculum collaboration projects, such as UMW Blogs at The University of Mary Washington.
As an American Studies scholar and an interdisciplinary studies teacher, the idea of digitally sharing and collaborating on curriculum is very exciting to me. As a critical pedagogist, it makes me feel hopeful. From a practical (time saving, at the very least) standpoint I am relieved and grateful for not having to re-invent the wheel every time thanks to DH initiatives. Being able to design curriculum while utilizing the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of more people opens up more opportunities in scholarship and in who can participate in scholarship—further democratizing education and academia.
If you know of other curriculum collaboration projects, interdisciplinary or otherwise and no matter how small or large, I invite you to share them in the comments.
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