Taking “Interdisciplinary” to a New Level: Composition and Nursing Collaboration
May 29, 2020
by Shelley Mitchell, Professor of Nursing
I approached our first regular meeting of the Faculty Learning Community on Global Gender and Women’s Studies with excitement and a little trepidation. While I knew other nursing faculty who’d been a part of FLC before, and even knew at least one who was taking part in our sister community (the FLC on Globalizing the Curriculum), I knew I was the only nurse taking part in our group that year.
When I’d first decided to pursue nursing as a means towards becoming a certified nurse-midwife, my background was in English. I’d wanted to be an English professor, once upon a time, and I joked that maybe if I ever wanted to go back to grad school after getting my MS, I’d do it in women’s studies, combining my interests in women’s health and literary theory. This FLC was the perfect opportunity to dive back in to those intersecting interests.
I jotted down some ideas for projects before our first meeting, but none of them stood out as being the right one. Then, when I picked my seat that morning, I just happened to sit next to Wendy Lym of the English department, and near some other folks who would be inspirational throughout the school year. When Dr. Keita started his presentation, I was enthralled—the last time I’d heard someone talk about textual analysis like this, I’d been an undergrad at Oberlin College. By the end of that first session, Wendy and I had our project: we were going to develop a section of a composition course for pre-nursing students focused on global gender and women’s studies in nursing, and we were going to team teach it.
The presentations we had were fascinating (although I’m a little frustrated that the one focused on health care was the one meeting I had to miss!), and getting to know the others in the group was both wonderful and inspirational. Wendy and I plugged away at our idea, hoping to get the section into place for the fall of 2020, despite some hurdles (for one thing, no one had done an FLC project as a team before)—and then Covid-19 hit, and everything got more challenging. It is still our plan to develop that section of ENGL 1301, once things are more settled, and we can work through the unique challenges that project presents, but for now, the two of us decided that we needed to scale back to something we could actually achieve for the fall semester, as an entire section just wasn’t going to be possible. Instead, we would focus on a single assignment, and I would be a guest lecturer for that assignment.
I cannot recommend the FLC on Global Gender and Women’s Studies enough. It’s difficult at times for those of us in Health Sciences to work out how to take advantage of opportunities like this, given our clinical schedules, but it’s more than worth it to do so. Making connections with faculty from across the College, learning about fascinating research projects, and digging in to a project is an incredible, transformative experience.
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