The interdisciplinary nature of the field of Science & Technology Studies draws students from a variety of backgrounds to my classroom. The fundamental aspect of my teaching philosophy involves exposing students to the new lenses and skills needed for critical reflection on their work as future scientists, physicians, and engineers (or of their daily relationship with Science). More than any other goal in my work as a teacher, I believe that the ability—and willingness—to consider the co-production of science, technology, and society can influence the very questions we ask and the ethics we demand of ourselves and others who hold varying degrees of power.
As such, my Fall 2017 first-year writing seminar, Science and Society: Stories of (Agri)Culture, introduces these questions through the topic of agriculture. While my teaching reflects my own experience and research interests in agricultural science and food systems, my primary goal and responsibility is to provide students with the skills, encouragement, and time to develop their own voice—for telling their own stories.
As both a student and a teacher, I believe that students must be excited about and engaged with a specific topic in order to maintain a commitment to relentless practice of the craft of writing. By creating an intellectual space that fosters research and productive argumentation, the writing process will follow. I take this to heart in my own teaching philosophy. The writing I ask students to produce reflects the interdisciplinary nature of STS. This means that, in addition to analyzing different stories and texts in the field, students will become familiar with building effective arguments and conducting research in a variety of genres.
In both my own research and teaching, I use Cornell University itself as a laboratory, relying significantly on class fieldtrips and tours within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as on discussions with scientists, historians, and librarians. I encourage students to think of these stories, people, and archives as both tools and objects of research, and together we conceptualize, discuss, and write about them from different (sub)disciplinary lenses. Agriculture is an accessible topic through which to accomplish these broader goals: No matter how indirectly, everyone is connected to their food and the environment, and has their own stories to share, and voices to develop.
Teaching has been the most rewarding aspect of my life thus far as a graduate student, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn from my students as I craft my own voice.