Difficult Dialogues

The fall 2011 semester was a difficult one for all Penn Staters, especially students.  We can use the events of the fall 2011 semester as a springboard for discussions and activities in our courses to help students process their experiences and emotions and continue the healing process.  Below are links and other resources from around PSU, illustrating how some instructors have integrated the events of November 2011 as a springboard to engage students in difficult dialogues.  These examples include examples from courses focused on related topics, to examples that encourage critical thinking about the topic within a course or discipline.

Examples from Penn State Courses
Undergraduate Research – Nicholas Rowland, Asst.Prof. of Sociology and his students developed a survey to gather information from students about the events.  Read the post by student Alexander B. Kinney about the project.

Penn State Faculty Offer Teachable Moments Penn State Live has written a number of stories about how faculty and students have integrated the issues into their courses.

COMM 409 New Media Ethics and COMM 462 Feature Writing – Students in courses taught by Russel Frank, Associate Professor of Communications, have had an opportunity to both write about and analyze a variety of related topics.

KINES 439W Ethics in Sport and Sport Management – Scott Kretchmar, Professor of Exercise and Sport Science, has included the topic in explorations of athletics reform at large institutions.

THEA 208 Workshop: Theatre in Diverse Cultures and THEA 497C Acting for the Camera – Charles Dumas, Prof. of Theatre and African American Studies, and Jo Dumas, Sr. Lecturer in Communications, are collaborating with students to create a play that will help students examine the circumstances and move through the mourning process.

SOC 119: Race and Ethnic Relations – Sociology instructors Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey have led focused discussions in in their 700-student course to help students understand the sociology behind the issues.

If you would like to share any stories of your own, please email site@psu.edu and we will be happy to add them to our list!

Difficult Dialogues in the Classroom – This post provides guidance for instructors about how to incorporate difficult discussions in their courses.

Deliberations in the Midst of Crisis – A resources page posted by the Penn State Center for Democratic Deliberation, including tips on teaching difficult topics and suggested discussion questions.

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