Feminist Pedagogy integrates feminist training into existing curriculum at the K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels, and studies its efficacy. Feminist practices can improve the impact, reach, and inclusivity of research and teaching by offering tools oriented toward criticality, reflexivity, and bringing about a more just world. UC Davis is now a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), with a high number of first-generation students. These students come in with different life experiences and knowledge than has been historically seen in the STEM classroom and research lab. Feminist approaches have developed inclusive models of teaching and making knowledge that include diversity in a meaningful way that makes students feel that they belong in the classroom and lab.
Our current major initiative is Asking Different Questions: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Science, funded by an National Science Foundation Innovations in Graduate Education grant (Co-PIs Sara Giordano, Sarah McCullough, and Kalindi Vora). This project explores the following hypothesis: That changing research questions and research agendas will change who is in STEM and the knowledge we produce. The award will provide graduate students with training to locate their research questions within a larger societal context. This will include how to recognize and address issues of historical bias and cultural complexity. By learning to place their research in a broader context, junior researchers are able to better frame complex research questions, particularly those presented by communities traditionally under-served by science. The curriculum also provides support for interdisciplinary collaborations and the inclusion of diverse voices and approaches in STEM research. Read more about the NSF grant here.
Asking Different Questions tributes the 2008 essay by Deboleena Roy, “Asking Different Questions: Feminist Practices for the Natural Sciences.” Roy argues that feminists in science often ask different questions, and that doing this often gives rise to dilemmas and tensions. These are most palpable as they relate to research agenda choices. She asks, “How can feminism influence the ways in which we gain scientific knowledge? How can feminist scientists produce scientific knowledge that is relevant to and considerate of those who are marginalized within dominant cultures?" To that list, we would add:
- Who does our research benefit and harm?
- What is the role of community in our research?
- How do our metaphors, frameworks, and language affect our findings?
- How do we make science more accessible?
- How does the history of your field affect the research done today?
These are intricately related to questions of who does STEM research, who counts as a scientist, and feelings of belonging. Through the grant, we will be creating graduate STEM curriculum grounded in feminist science studies and feminist value and testing its efficacy.
FRI is available to speak to classrooms, seminars, faculty meetings, or student groups about the crucial contributions a feminist approach can make to the work you do. Feminist practices can improve the impact, reach, and inclusivity of research by offering tools oriented toward criticality, reflexivity, and bringing about a more just world. We welcome deeper partnerships in developing curriculum and projects that deeply embed feminist research into STEM training. Contact us to arrange a visit or talk further.