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Humanities Educators in STEM Environments

May 21 @ 10:00 am

We are excited to announce the third annual Humanities Educators in STEM Environments conference. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, IN. There is no cost to attend and lunch will be provided. However, if you plan to attend, please click here to register.

This year’s theme is “Surviving and Thriving in STEM Cultures.” Survival in STEM environments can mean many things: recruiting students into programs, retaining students in programs, obtaining resources (such as budgets, funding sources, faculty lines, additional services, support for new initiatives…the list goes on), or figuring out how to offer quality instruction while maintaining a reasonable workload. Beyond survival, however, we want our programs to thrive: to engage students in required courses, promote connections among our programs and other disciplines, create meaningful relationships with STEM faculty, and balance our identities as humanities educators with other identities we hold dear.

In the spirit of honoring the myriad meanings of “surviving and thriving,” this year’s conference provides a variety of ways to share your research, knowledge, experience, concerns, ponderings, reflections, or questions. In addition to the traditional panels and individual presentations, we welcome proposals for discussion and round table sessions as well as poster presentations.

Please see the following call for BIG or small Ideas to learn about the different ways to participate! Submission deadline is no later than 5pm, Friday, April 12, 2019 to All ideas will be screened by the HESE conference host planning committee. Applicants will be notified of idea acceptance via email on or before April 19, 2019.

HESE Conference Proposal

Call for BIG or small ideas

For questions please contact Cortney Robbins, Associate Professor of English, at

Parking is available in Lot #1. Please click here to view the campus map.


Time Event and Location
10-10:30 a.m. Registration and Introductions-Talwar Leadership Center
10:30-11:15 a.m. Session 1A-Snyder Academic Center 246
(Dis)Comfort Zones: Engaging STEM Students with Global Literature’s Real-World Contexts
Corey Taylor and Jody Jensen, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Humanities educators at many STEM institutions teach mainly or exclusively non-majors. As English professors, we strive to have our students—usually motivated, but sometimes incurious—engage meaningfully with literary texts and topics. Often, though, we require them to grapple with literature’s real-world contexts, which adds a layer of complexity to an already challenging task. The types of literature the presenters teach—Indian, South African, African American, and Irish—express lived experiences and portray historical events outside the scope of our students’ awareness, which requires us to contextualize readings in ways that sometimes cause students (and their instructors) discomfort. Our discussion will cover some of the challenges we have encountered, and the methods we have employed, to help students understand why literature matters beyond the classroom. We hope attendees share techniques for doing the same in their courses.

Session 1B-Snyder Academic Center 257
Assignment Sharing Session
Dr. Vicki Davis, Indiana Tech
Participants include Diana Montague from University of Findlay, and selected Indiana Tech faculty. This session asks that faculty bring assignments to share with others. Participants can bring effective assignments, or even assignments that need revision, utilizing the time to brainstorm and workshop potential ideas. All conference attendees are invited to come, listen, observe, and participate!

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Session 2A- Snyder Academic Center 246
Graphic Novels and Mixed Media within STEM Environments
Tiffanie Goff and Joe Van Kerkhove, Tiffin University
In this session, Goff and Van Kerkhove will share individual ideas and experiences teaching literature and art to undergraduate students who are mostly non-majors pursuing degrees in STEM, business, or criminal justice fields. Goff’s presentation will focus on using graphic novels to teach an introduction to literature course, and participants will come away with information related to the use of five different graphic novels. Van Kerkhove will discuss how the students use mixed media approaches to create thoughtful works of art through improvisation, experimentation, editing and analysis. Van Kerkhove’s students organize their images to address how cultural behavior, beliefs, perceptions and values influence perspective. Finally, this presentation will describe an interdisciplinary project created to connect the professors’ visual arts and literary courses. This collaboration allowed students to explore the recent opioid epidemic in Ohio and resulted in a community awareness event on campus.

Session 2B- Snyder Academic Center 257
Incorporating Community Engagement in Composition Courses
Carrie Duke, Indiana Tech
This presentation will offer attendees practical advice on incorporating community engagement into developmental and first-year writing classes. I would like to briefly share four separate writing assignments that include some aspect of community engagement. This presentation will demonstrate easy and effective ways to encourage students to interact with, think about, and then write about issues related to their local community. Most of the assignments involve students traveling to and touring various local non-profit organizations. These assignments include, in order, a report, evaluation, causal argument, and proposal essay. Getting students outside the classroom facilitates their understanding of social issues and helps them view their writing as purposeful and authentic.The Interplay Between Art and Math

Josh Holden, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
This presentation describes the team-teaching of a course in mathematics and art. The goal of the class is to show students the interplay between art and math with a focus on having them make physical objects. Most math and art classes we have heard of focus primarily on introducing liberal arts students to mathematics. In a STEM context, we want to instead build on the mathematical knowledge that our students already have. We intend for students to use their existing mathematical (and perhaps artistic) knowledge to reinforce new artistic (and perhaps mathematical) experiences. Ideally, the knowledge and experience gained will increase their appreciation for both the beauty of mathematics and the importance of art.

12:30-1:15 p.m. Lunch-Talwar Leadership Center
1:30-2:15 p.m. Session 3ASnyder Academic Center 246
In Defense of the Humanities
Cortney Robbins, Indiana Tech
Sometimes even professors of humanities subjects can lose sight of the unique learning experiences students may have in our disciplines. In a time where vocational majors are stressed (often to the detriment of humanities fields), it is important to remind ourselves of what our courses do that other courses do not. Drawing upon both primary and secondary research, the presenter will share classical and current, formal and informal defenses of humanities education in the hopes of reinvigorating the audience members’ purpose and passion for our subjects. The humanities within higher education should be seen as more than a service to the occupational majors, and this presentation will provide meaningful evidence of the impact humanistic learning can have upon students.

Teaching to Non-Majors
Melissa Maynus, Christina Olding, Jennifer Royston, Trine University
We each have individual experience leading different classes that together, compose a program that serves our English major students, and Trine’s large population of STEM students. In Dr. Maynus’ Viking Literature course, her final project asks that students retell part of a saga in a different medium. Some students are choosing to build physical representations or to produce podcasts. She will discuss the high-points and pitfalls of this assignment in relationship to her STEM students. Olding teaches Advanced Composition to pre-physical therapy students and her presentation will encompass how she engages rhetoric to connect with the health sciences. Dr. Royston teaches Technical Communication to primarily engineering students. Her presentation will discuss ways in which she is revamping the curriculum to suit the changing needs of these students. She will also discuss campus-wide collaboration and how departments and professors from various fields generously support this course.

Session 3B- Snyder Academic Center 257
Almost Unintelligible: Practical Approaches to Interdisciplinary Education in STEM Contexts
Julia Williams, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
In her recent piece in the Prism magazine (published by the American Society for Engineering Education, January 2019), undergraduate student Alicia Dai, a junior at Duke University, succinctly described the problem of bridging the fields of humanities and engineering as she pursues a dual degree in English and electrical engineering. Dai understands that her choice of degrees has landed her in an unclaimed space between two fields that do not understand each other and are separated by their mutual unintelligibility. Why then even bother to effect understanding between them? Mutual unintelligibility in an analysis of interdisciplinarity puts language at the center of the work. In fact, mutual unintelligibility may serve as a controlling metaphor for this discussion of practical approaches to interdisciplinary education. In examples of how interdisciplinarity is constructed on my campus, I will highlight the importance of language, both as communication and as a structure for knowledge.

2:30-3:15 p.m. HESE 2019: Our Big Ideas to Survive and Thrive-Talwar Leadership Center


May 21
10:00 am
Event Category:


Snyder Academic Center, Ravi & Eleanor Talwar Leadership Center
1600 E. Washington Blvd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46803 United States


Cortney Robbins