Linguistics professor Gregory Ward just recently became co-director of the Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN), but he already has a clear vision for his role. In addition to supporting sexuality research and maintaining the group’s vibrant interdisciplinarity, Ward wants to lead curriculum development within SPAN.
“Developing courses for undergraduates is especially appealing to me,” Ward says. “I teach undergraduate courses in language and gender, and language and sexuality, and these are areas that are deeply relevant to students today, with political and social implications. I want to bring to SPAN the energy and excitement that I see manifest in students.”
To this end, SPAN is launching a teaching fellows program, which will give nine faculty the opportunity to propose courses that explore themes within SPAN’s scope. The first cohort of three faculty has been selected, and these professors will be offering their proposed courses to undergraduates over the academic year. After three years, Ward, Carrillo and others will incorporate feedback from those classes to develop an official SPAN-sponsored curriculum.
Greater undergraduate involvement in SPAN, Ward says, would not only allow for lively and enthusiastic class discussion — it would also greatly advance SPAN’s mission.
“We’re constantly learning new things about sexuality, and bringing undergraduate students into the mix would be helpful to many of us in SPAN — myself included — because many of the issues we grapple with are relatively new in the academy,” he says. “Issues dealing with the gender spectrum or trans issues and trans-race issues — these students are often at the forefront of those areas of scholarship and activism, and to bring that into the mix is very powerful.”