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Social justice among topics explored at faculty workshops to promote transdisciplinary knowledge

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Workshops speakers, from left, Drs. Todd Campbell, Okhee Lee, and Pratim Sengupta. Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

Data and lessons from COVID-19 and societal issues from the past year can assist faculty in providing an educational backdrop for students. Faculty can learn more about how the pandemic offers context to engage students while making visible the endemic nature of systemic racism that has led to disproportionate numbers of cases and deaths among racial and ethnic minority groups, according to the workshop presenters. They will walk participants through navigating data sources and share science lessons to illustrate instructional framework.

University of Hawaiʻi faculty are encouraged to attend this professional development workshop, part of a two-day virtual event, “Faculty Transdisciplinary Professional Development Workshop: Promoting Transdisciplinary Knowledge to Bridge Careers in STEM and Community,” 9 to 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19. Registration for attendance is required: http://bit.ly/STEMFTSeries.

The event, open to UH faculty across all campuses, is hosted by UH West Oʻahu and funded by SEED Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Success (IDEAS) through UH Mānoa.

At the two workshops, faculty will learn more about integrating transdisciplinary assignments or projects into their curriculum, as well as discover how projects can incorporate transdisciplinary approaches to prepare their students for life beyond the classroom, said Dr. Olivia George, associate professor in Biology at UH West Oʻahu.

“This exciting event will offer UH faculty the unique opportunity to hear from and connect with professionals implementing transdisciplinary approaches to foster critical thinking, innovation, and 21st-century skills across STEM curriculum,” George said.

The two workshops are:

  • “COVID-19 and Social Justice: A Storyline for Promoting Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production to Connect STEM Learning to Societally Pressing Problems,” presented by Dr. David Todd Campbell and Dr. Okhee Lee, 9 to 11:15 a.m. May 18. Description: The COVID‐19 pandemic offers an unprecedented context to engage all students in societally pressing problems while making visible the endemic nature of systemic racism that has led to disproportionate numbers of cases and deaths among racial and ethnic minority groups. We propose an instructional framework for STEM education, by foregrounding justice and capitalizing on new advances in STEM disciplines to support justice‐centered decisions and solutions to societally pressing problems. During the presentation, we will walk the participants through navigating data sources and share our science lessons to illustrate our instructional framework.
  • “Centering Equity, Imagination, and Heterogeneity in Modeling Across Disciplines,” presented by Dr. Pratim Sengupta, 9 to 11:15 a.m. May 19. Description: The goal of this talk is to offer insights into designing transdisciplinary modeling activities for STEM integration that center equity, imagination, and heterogeneity. Through the use of illustrative examples, we will examine how designing such activities can be supported by
    i) balancing disciplinary depth with reflexive movement across disciplines, ii) paying attention to affective, embodied and moral dimensions of marginalized forms of experience, and iii) centering critical ecological sustainability.

UH West Oʻahu faculty members George and Dr. Veny Liu applied for and received funding to invite and select presenters to introduce undergraduates to a variety of STEM research and career opportunities that incorporate transdisciplinary knowledge through the Math + Science + X seminars, as well as to enhance faculty transdisciplinary knowledge and incorporate it into the Natural Science curricula by hosting the upcoming two-day workshop for faculty.

The speakers for the seminars were Kehaulani Kupihea (April 9), Dr. Rosalyn La Pier (April 16), Lorena Wada (April 23), Dr. Ranjan Rohatgi (April 30), and Tara Meggett (May 7); and speakers for the two-day faculty workshop are Drs. Todd Campbell and Ohkee Lee (May 18), and Dr. Pratim Sengupta (May 19).

For more information, email ogeorge@hawaii.edu.