MCSI Technology: Wrap Up

May 28, 2014

This spring was my first attempt to helm the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry’s Speaker’s Series. This year’s theme was Technology. The Center also runs a seminar connected to the series, so each week, a small group of student-fellows also got the chance to engage intimately with the Center’s renowned visitors.

Without question, this was one of the most profound learning experiences I have had as a professor, but not simply because of the challenging, diverse, exciting and even controversial (see above) talks given each week by our esteemed visitors. Rather, it was my unparalleled and inspiring opportunity, each and every week for a semester, to watch another venerated professor and professional engage with undergraduates in a seminar space and our broader Claremont community over meals, through a more formal presentation, and in the liberal arts classroom. Each speaker embodied his or her authority, expertise, and role as a teacher from an entirely different angle, just as each came to us thinking about and working with technology through entirely different disciplines, devices, and orientations.

When I taught a portion of the class at the nearby Men’s Prison, Norco, with four of the seminar fellows and several of our speakers taking on this extra commitment, we all learned in profound ways how it is teaching itself that may very well be the technology most necessary, staying, and empowering from the many we considered over the semester. The resulting final project, a zine authored by my students at Pitzer and those at Norco, considered the profound relevance of the theories and histories of technology that we so carefully studied in our cozy classroom and stately lecture halls to humans denied access to most modern technologies as a core technology of their punishment. We learned again and again that teaching and learning can occur without the digital, or even pencils.

In fact, wrapping up what I learned about technology and pedagogy, because of the high-level of preparation and engagement of my seminar students, I learned a great deal from them; they each engaged in inspiring and diverse research projects, from living without a laptop, to theorizing the essence of a video game, to the role of cameras in live experiences like concerts, as presented in the video here:

Next year’s theme will be Virus, and I look forward to another transformative set of experiences during the 2014-2015 school year.





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