The National Women’s Studies Association Regional Directors meeting in Atlanta was an opportunity for department chairs and directors to discuss achievements and challenges.
In a one-hour session, I talked about engaging women’s studies classrooms with Wikipedia projects. During the presentation, I hoped to encourage new instructors to get involved in Wiki Ed programs. I also shared some success stories of student work from our partnership. Topics that women’s, gender, and sexuality student’s have worked on range from biographies of women scientists (and more), women in medieval history, women in cinema, women in art and writing. Students have made strides elsewhere, too, tackling topics like Women in Arab Societies, gender inequality, and works of writing.
I learned that many of the directors and chairs saw the value such an assignment could bring to their students’ understanding of systematic bias and the ways that they can become active combatants against it. We discussed what it meant to bring women’s voices to a “room” like Wikipedia, which has been written predominantly by men. There’s an opportunity in Wikipedia assignments to talk about why their voices deserve to have a place at the table. The assignment is a chance to discuss bias regarding the information available to students, and to help them think critically about how that information is constructed.
During the session, we also touched upon strategies for assignments. That included a discussion of the flexibility of Wiki Ed’s tools to help support classroom projects of any kind. I learned that single-student capstone projects would be a great way to engage high achieving students in these departments, and I’m excited to work with faculty on courses and assignments that meet those needs.
Thanks to Executive Director Allison Kimmich for allowing Wiki Ed to be a part of such a special event! We’re excited to continue working with women’s, gender, and sexuality studies instructors as they work to develop areas lacking on Wikipedia. If you are an instructor interested in supporting a classroom project using Wikipedia, I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.