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An Illinois Sampler

An Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairie

Mary-Ann Winkelmes
Antoinette Burton
with Kyle Mays
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    An Illinois Sampler
    Book Description:

    An Illinois Sampler presents personal accounts from faculty members at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and other contributors about their research and how it enriches and energizes their teaching. Contributors from the humanities, engineering, social and natural sciences, and other disciplines explore how ideas, methods, and materials merge to lead their students down life-changing paths to creativity, discovery, and solutions. Faculty introduce their classes to work conducted from the Illinois prairie to Caribbean coral reefs to African farms, and from densely populated cities to dense computer coding. In so doing they generate an atmosphere where research, teaching, and learning thrive inside a feedback loop of education across disciplines. Aimed at alumni and prospective students interested in the university's ongoing mission, as well as current faculty and students wishing to stay up to date on the work being done around them, An Illinois Sampler showcases the best, the most ambitious, and the most effective teaching practices developed and nurtured at one of the world's premier research universities. Contributors are Nancy Abelmann, Flavia C. D. Andrade, Jayadev Athreya, Betty Jo Barrett, Thomas J. Bassett, Hugh Bishop, Antoinette Burton, Lauren A. Denofrio-Corrales, Lizanne DeStefano, Karen Flynn, Bruce W. Fouke, Rebecca Ginsburg, Julie Jordan Gunn, Geoffrey Herman, Laurie Johnson, Kyle T. Mays, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Audrey Petty, Anke Pinkert, Raymond Price, Luisa-Maria Rosu, D. Fairchild Ruggles, Carol Spindel, Mark D. Steinberg, William Sullivan, Richard I. Tapping, Bradley Tober, Agniezska Tuszynska, Bryan Wilcox, Kate Williams, Mary-Ann Winkelmes, and Yi Lu.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09657-0
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Antoinette Burton and Mary-Ann Winkelmes
  4. INTRODUCTION: Charting Common Ground in the Teaching-Research Nexus
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Mary-Ann Winkelmes and Antoinette Burton

    This unique account of the teaching-research-learning enterprise arrives at an important moment in the evolution of higher education, when concerns about cost and accessibility have driven some to dissect teaching, research, and learning into separately fundable commodities. In this book, leading scholar-educators from across the disciplines at the University of Illinois offer insights into how their vocation integrates teaching, research, and learning in a complex and evolving practice—a collaborative enterprise that connects faculty, students, and the society in promoting the discovery, understanding, and application of new knowledge. All the contributors identify distinctive ways their day-to-day work unites teaching with...

  5. A Sense of the Earth
    (pp. 1-7)
    Bruce W. Fouke

    How did Life arise on Earth and is it elsewhere in the universe? What is the next source of sustainable energy? Will the emergence of infectious disease accompany global climate change? These are but a small sampling of the immensely challenging and complex scientific questions facing our society. However, no single branch of scientific research can provide meaningful answers. Earth scientists are therefore developing the new discipline of Systems Geobiology, which links multi-scale geological, biological, physical, and chemical processes. This systems geobiology emphasis necessitates the broad cross-disciplinary integration of reductionist and holistic approaches, integrated field and laboratory experimentation, and synthesis...

  6. Collaborative Artists: How to Speak and Listen at the Same Time
    (pp. 8-13)
    Julie Jordan Gunn

    I am a musician, a collaborative pianist, someone who most enjoys the creative process of working and performing with others—singers, instrumentalists, composers, poets, dancers, and actors. For me, the challenge of being creative is best met as a team. I don’t believe in the myth of the lone artist. Most of my growth, and most of my students’ growth, has been through collaboration.

    To understand my own artistic development, I think of the performing that meant the most to me. My main professional partner is also my husband, Nathan Gunn; while we have both collaborated with others in recital,...

  7. The Intimate University: “We Are All in This Together”
    (pp. 14-20)
    Nancy Abelmann

    I am putting the finishing touches on this chapter after wrapping up my fall 2012 course, the Ethnography of Contemporary East Asia. I couldn’t be happier with the six podcasts that my twenty-three students produced. As I guided the student teams in the making of these ten-minute, interview-based portraits of Chinese or South Korean international undergraduates, I was able to convey to them why anthropology is so exciting to me and what I find so intellectually compelling about studying “Korea” on my own campus. I designed the podcast assignment in relation to the course’s focus on globalization, youth, migration, and...

  8. Painting with Numbers (and Shapes, and Symmetry)
    (pp. 21-26)
    Jayadev Athreya

    What do you think mathematics is? A body of facts: static, majestic, imposing, and intimidating? Is it to be learned in a series of increasingly difficult stages, from the base camp of arithmetic to the intermediate peaks and traverses of high school algebra and geometry, to the mountaintops of calculus, analysis, abstract algebra, and topology in college? Do we abandon those who stumble along the way, shaking our heads sadly at those who stumble? “If you struggled this much with trigonometry, how will you handle calculus?”

    What do you think mathematical research is? A stately march up these mountains, exploring...

  9. From Desk to Bench: Linking Students’ Interests to Science Curricula
    (pp. 27-33)
    Lauren A. Denofrio-Corrales and Yi Lu

    A first-year undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, majoring in chemistry, discovers through her new independence away from home that she loves cooking and baking. She begins to wonder about the changes she witnesses in food as she prepares it. For instance, when egg whites harden in the pan, why do they change from a transparent goop to a white solid? She hopes that her chemistry and biology teachers will cover some of her questions in class, considering how often she finds herself pondering about the science of food. But, by midsemester, her teachers haven’t mentioned anything about food...

  10. Bringing Statistics to Life
    (pp. 34-39)
    Flavia C. D. Andrade

    It’s a freezing Monday in January at 9 A.M. How to make a full class of students motivated to be here? The thermostat in the classroom, a large lecture hall, is set at 70°F, but many of my students are shivering, hesitant, and intimidated by the title of the class: Health Statistics. For many of them, statistics and mathematics are not their favorite subjects, but this is a required course for most of them. Some of them have had limited mathematics training in high school, which makes them apprehensive. Asking them on their first day of class how they feel...

  11. The Humanity of Teaching: Reflections from the Education Justice Project
    (pp. 40-48)
    D. Fairchild Ruggles

    Since 2008, small groups of volunteers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have shuttled out to the Danville Correctional Center, a medium-high-security state prison forty miles away. Friday nights, we enter the drab DCC waiting room with our folders of papers—no DVDs, books, iPods, or cell phones are permitted. Signing the logbook and picking up our IDs at the first guard station, we pass through multiple sets of locked doors, a metal detector, and into the “port” with its heavy sliding gates overlooked by the second guard station, where hanging on the wall are key rings and...

  12. Prairie Tales: The Life of the Lecture at Illinois
    (pp. 49-53)
    Laurie Johnson

    I have been teaching fairy tales since shortly after I arrived at the University of Illinois about eleven years ago, when I was assigned a course that reliably brings high numbers of students into the relatively small Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures: The Grimms’ Fairy Tales in Their European Context. My research field is romanticism, but the nineteenth century was the only thing that tied me to the Grimm brothers’ oddly progressiveandregressive project of collecting folklore from all over Europe and repackaging it as “German.” I knew nothing about folklore studies, and hadn’t seen the Disney remakes...

  13. Engineering Professors Who Are Reengineering Their Courses: The iFoundry Perspective
    (pp. 54-58)
    Luisa-Maria Rosu

    The University of Illinois has a well-deserved reputation for rigor in engineering education, with instructional content heavily oriented toward mathematics and science. Faculty members in the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry) have been redesigning their courses by using instructional contexts that allow students to see meaningful relationships between abstract ideas and practical applications. I met biweekly with a group of these faculty members as they examined how the new course designs generate challenges and encourage departures from traditional engineering teaching. The group included Ray Price, Brian Wilcox, Geoffrey Herman, and Betty Barrett. As the discussions and course...

  14. It’s More than a “Ghetto Story”: Using Dancehall as a Pedagogical Tool in the Classroom
    (pp. 59-66)
    Karen Flynn

    I teach Black Women in the Diaspora, a course where, similar to my own research on Black Canadian women, there is a paucity of sources. Thus, I apply the same principles in my teaching that I use for my research. Coupled with scholarly analysis, I “creatively reconstruct histories of Black women from available fragments of sources” (Flynn 2008, 445) to write a narrative about their experiences beginning with their childhoods, migratory movements, and professional work lives as well as unpaid and volunteer work. Equally significant, I pay special attention to human agency and Black women as social actors—not merely...

  15. Experiencing Histories of the City
    (pp. 67-71)
    Mark D. Steinberg

    In my teaching and research I am especially interested in small stories, in the fragments and scattered puzzle pieces the past leaves behind, asking myself and my students how to connect these fragments to larger pictures. It is fine to start with large interpretive questions: in the study of Russian history these might be questions about how the autocracy and empire survived so long, what caused the revolutions of 1917 and brought the Bolsheviks to power, or how to explain the Stalinist Terror. I have found it more fruitful to work toward the answers to such questions through smaller stories...

  16. More than Creativity: Infusing Research in the Design Studio
    (pp. 72-78)
    William Sullivan

    Design instruction typically emphasizes inspiration and creativity over other considerations. Although students are encouraged to meet the requirements of a client and often to do so safely and efficiently, the overriding emphasis is on novelty, imagination, and originality.

    In a typical design studio—an enormous room with plans and sketches taped to the walls and the discarded drafts of those heaped on the desks, spilling onto the floor—students think “Creativity rules—I’m free to do whatever I want.” As a product of this culture, I value creativity and innovation. But as a teacher, I want to inspire them to...

  17. The Maps on Our Backs
    (pp. 79-86)
    Thomas J. Bassett

    The slide on the lecture hall screen high above me shows Donisongui Silué, who I first met in 1981—a strong, well-built cotton farmer in northern Côte d’Ivoire. Hundreds of students stare at the image of him handpicking high-quality West African cotton, for which, I explain, he will receive a pittance in world markets.

    For over thirty years, I have been following farmers in Donisongui’s village in Côte d’Ivoire in order to understand their agricultural lives and livelihoods in relation to the world economy. Like most cotton grown in West Africa, Donisongui’s crop will be spun and woven in South...

  18. My Education as a Medical School Teacher
    (pp. 87-92)
    Richard I. Tapping

    “You do realize that you will be teaching medical students.” These were the words of Dick Gumport, a professor of biochemistry and an associate dean in the College of Medicine. It had already been a long day and an eventful second visit for me at the University of Illinois during which a formal offer of salary, laboratory space, and start-up funds for establishing my own independent research program had been negotiated. Now I was sitting in Dick’s office trying to ascertain what exactly he meant by his statement. I should have asked him outright, but instead all I could muster...

  19. Dance and the Alexander Technique: A Dynamic Research-Teaching Design
    (pp. 93-100)
    Rebecca Nettl-Fiol

    “We should write this.” I remember the moment in 2005 when my coauthor, Luc Vanier, and I came up with the idea to write a book. Both of us are dance professors, Luc a ballet dancer and I a modern dancer. Much of our time is spent teaching dancers in the studio, not sitting at a desk, writing. And although I had already published a coedited book and an article here and there, I did not consider myself a writer. But our excitement about the work we were doing together, and the urge to share our ideas with others launched...

  20. Five Things Only I Care About
    (pp. 101-106)
    Carol Spindel

    Thanks to my students’ essays, I understand how playing the villain in a video game can mitigate the boredom of a summer job in a warehouse (while stacking boxes, you dream up ways to take other players hostage) and the way to use a cell phone to avoid someone you encounter while walking to class (pretend your mother is calling). My students’ writing has given me insights into what it’s like when your father is laid off from his corporate job or your mother suffers from a chronic illness. And then there is courtship: how Facebook makes a long-distance flirtation...

  21. Creative Code in the Design Classroom: Preparing Students for Contemporary Professional Practice
    (pp. 107-111)
    Bradley Tober

    “But I thought majoring in [art or design] meant I was done learning math!” This is the inevitable, and somewhat amusing, response that I receive from at least one student nearly every time I introduce the basics of coding/programming in an art and design course. However, my students quickly learn that, in the new and rapidly evolving field of code-based design, a little knowledge of mathematical principles goes a long way toward ensuring their success as artists, designers, industry professionals, and even future mentors. Just as learning code is a new experience for these students, art and design pedagogy that...

  22. Cybernavigating
    (pp. 112-118)
    Kate Williams

    When she and I met, Chicagoan Alicia Henry was a mother raising her son in Englewood, where she had grown up. While earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Chicago State University, she also worked as cybernavigator at the West Englewood branch of the Chicago Public Library. She helped people using the public-access computers, providing just-in-time help and small, scheduled classes. Figure 1 shows her with a patron who returned to share news of her high school graduation. Alicia is a patient person who laughs a lot, including when she said, “some days after my shift I be running out...

  23. Humanities and Sciences at Work: Liberatory Education for Millennials
    (pp. 119-122)
    Kyle T. Mays

    What is research? What is teaching? What happens when these two actions are fused into one? These were the questions thatAn Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairieaddresses in eighteen different ways. Conceptualized by Drs. Antoinette Burton and Mary-Ann Winkelmes, this edited volume seeks to highlight the relationship between teaching and research, and how it leads to more informed teachers, students, and societies. In short, the production of this volume proves that when research and teaching are integrated, what we do in the academy is valuable in several ways. Faculty members become better teachers and researchers, students benefit...

    (pp. 123-129)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 130-130)