As an educator and mentor, my work with students is grounded in scholarly teaching, decolonial and anti-oppressive pedagogies (e.g. Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Paolo Freire), and intersectional feminist analytical frameworks (e.g. Kimberlé Crenshaw and Patricia Hill-Collins) that form the core of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies (WGST). My courses challenge students to (1) think critically about the power dynamics embedded in mainstream cultural narratives, (2) connect and engage with their local community, and (3) learn strategies to advocate for equity and justice in their own lives and the lives of others. My overarching goal is to get my students to ask questions about the construction of knowledge and why it matters who gets to say what matters. My work with students is consistently ranked by students and peers as excellent, and I was recently recognized with a 2021 Distinguished Faculty Award.
Kim begins her historical walking tour on Calgary's sex trade industry. Photo by Michelle Bodner, September 2018.
Missing Voices At their core, my courses ask students to notice whose voices are missing from mainstream cultural narratives. In Gender, Race, and Representation, students use Wikipedia as both cultural product and knowledge repository. In a two-part project, they first critique Wikipedia’s coverage of Indigenous people in Canada. They then contribute new and counter-narratives by adding their own research to already extant content pages and/or by creating new ones. By participating directly in the real-time (re)construction of knowledge, students learn not only to apply the theoretical frameworks and research methods of feminist cultural studies, but also to question the hegemonic narrative of Canada as a beacon of gender equity and anti-racism.
Similarly, in Booze, Broads & Brothels, my historical walking tour of Calgary's adult consensual sex trade industry, I contravene conventional popular and legal narratives by (1) amplifying the voices of sex workers to highlight their agency rather than their victimization and/or criminality (2) promoting awareness of the poor social, economic, and political status of women and other gender and sexual minorities in our city. Now offered regularly to the general public, the tour was originally created for my course on the long history and complex politics of Calgary’s thriving sex industry.
Civic Engagement Central to my teaching is connecting students with their local community, so class field trips are built into each of my courses. In Men and Masculinities, students visit Calgary’s military museum, tour a local energy company’s exhibit on its oil extraction process, and attend both a hockey game and a rodeo. During each experience, students work in groups to complete a worksheet that asks them to use the theories of masculinity that we read in class to make sense of the form(s) of masculinity on display. They then tie their analyses to relevant social media discussions and present their projects, as posters or lightning talks, to the campus community.
Cristinapilataxi, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Social Justice Advocacy Getting students out of the classroom also facilitates their learning of best practices for social justice advocacy. Students in my introductory courses go on a scavenger hunt around campus to look for facilities, services, and programming that are relevant to the course. Some of what I ask them to look for exists (such as the WGST and LGBTQ2S+ sections of the library holdings) and some of it doesn’t (i.e., a Women’s Center). This assignment orients new and first-year students to campus and challenges them to ask critical feminist questions about our own university’s priorities. Follow-up discussions encourage them to start thinking in practical terms about how they might work to change some of the gaps revealed by the scavenger hunt.
Improvisation Key to developing students’ capacity as long-term social justice advocates is my improvisational pedagogical approach that attends to the strengths and interests of each student. Improvisation also leaves room to address current events. In February 2018, for example, Canada was rocked by the acquittals by all-white juries of two white settler cismen in the unrelated deaths of two Indigenous youths. Because both cases sparked national conversations about settler colonialism, (post)race, class, and gender, I revised all three of my courses that semester to address them. Similarly, during 2020/21, I used the global health pandemic as a lens through which to teach core concepts in Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies.
Universal Instructional Design My commitment to flexibility and to providing an inclusive, supportive learning environment is at the heart of universal design principles. I try not to rely on requests for accommodation (which serve only to remove learning barriers for an individual student). Rather, I approach my course design and delivery in a way that creates spaces that are more fully barrier-free for all my students.
Please click here, or on "Courses" above to see a complete list of the courses I teach.