Curriculum: Protest and Process (short-term, spring 2021)

Organized by Darcy Buerkle, History, and Frazer Ward, Art

Project Description

Recently, at Smith and elsewhere, students have protested curricular offerings. Sometimes these protests have addressed perceived lack of institutional support for particular areas of study, sometimes they seem to pit student and faculty experience against student and faculty expertise, and frequently it seems there is no specific framework or process in which to engage with such protests. In addition, some forms of protest, such as the anonymous calling-out of faculty members on social media, have been a matter of concern. While as faculty we support our students’ activism, we would like to explore the terms of engagement when our own work is its object.

Given the lack of respect for expertise manifest in public life at large in recent years, it would seem to be incumbent on faculty not only to be responsible for communicating the content of their years of study, but also its value as such. We propose to raise a range of questions in the service of examining the convergences between the reproduction of institutional structural inequality and the status of intellectual life as we communicate it to our students. Given the degree to which expertise is shaped by institutions which are themselves embedded in larger structures of inequality, how might we conceptualize and organize our work in relation to this, in local and historical contexts? How should we and to what end do we acknowledge and engage our students’ experiences of these contexts? How do we build these considerations into curricula?   

We propose a short-term Kahn project to begin a discussion about curriculum, protest and process, where we can begin to articulate specific positions around these issues, and begin to think about processes that might be adequate to the task.  

Project Fellows

  • Shannon Audley, Education and Child Study
  • Darcy Buerkle, History, Organizing Fellow
  • Mlada Bukovansky, Government
  • Ginetta Candelario, Sociology
  • Matilda Rose Cantwell, Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
  • Rick Fantasia, Sociology
  • Bosiljka Glumac, Geosciences
  • Kiki Gounaridou, Theater
  • Ambreen Hai, English
  • Lane Hall-Witt, Interdisciplinary Studies Diploma Program
  • Alex Keller, Film and Media Studies
  • Sabina Knight, World Literatures
  • Dana Leibsohn, Art
  • Megan McCarvel, Jacobson Center
  • Sara Newland, Government
  • Sara Pruss, Geosciences
  • Kevin Rozario, American Studies
  • Andy Rotman, Religion
  • Maria Helena Rueda, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Juliana Tymoczko, Mathematics and Statistics
  • Frazer Ward, Art
  • Sujane Wu, East Asian Languages and Literatures
  • Nanci Young, Special Collections