My teaching, scholarship, and how I think about service is deeply informed by feminist theory. Feminist theory facilitates critical inquiry in part by highlighting forms of systemic oppression and injustice. Said simply, as both a scholar and educator, I am deeply invested in efforts towards justice, diversity, and equity, particularly as they intersect with new media and digital technology.
My course syllabi, activities, and evaluations are informed by feminist pedagogy, which is characterized by: 1) encouragement of social understanding and activism; 2) development of critical thinking and open-mindedness; 3) participatory learning; and, 4) validation of personal experience (Hoffmann & Stake, 1998).
pedagogy in practice
Media & Society (DMJ 101): is an introduction to the history, content, economics, regulation, and effects of mass media on society. I first developed this syllabus in Fall 2019, and I have taught approximately 170 students in two sections of the course over 2 semesters. This is the gateway course for our department and also satisfies a number of general education requirements, including critical thinking introductory and liberal arts.
Keeping feminist pedagogy in mind, one of my concerns after my first semester teaching the course was that the units were too atomized and failed to give students a broader framework to evaluate the role of media in building a more inclusive and just democratic society.
Following my participation in the SUNY New Paltz Sustainability Learning Community's Global Goals workshop in February of 2020, I was struck by how well UN Goal 16 (Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions) captures and underscores the critical function of mass
media in a democracy. Notably, I applied and was accepted to become a Sustainability Fellow (2020 – 2021) and my DMJ 101 syllabus now centers around this underlying question: “What should the role of media be in ensuring peace, justice, and strong institutions in contemporary society? How well does U.S. media fulfill that role in your view? Students respond to this question in Week 2 and then again for their final course paper.
In 2022, I won a $10,000 SUNY PRODiG grant to fund a qualitative research project on the impact of sustainability education on the undergraduate student learning experience.
Media and Popular Culture (DMJ 432): is an upper-level writing-intensive class that offers a critical view of the social, cultural, and political impact of media on mass culture. In Spring 2020 when Covid-19 arrived, I was teaching two sections of DMJ 432. Rather than
seeing the crisis as only an obstacle to instruction, I tried to imagine how Covid-19 could open up a “liminal space,” or an opportunity to build new forms of community while giving students time for written reflection. As they are positioned at the edge of traditional media, zines (noncommercial magazines which their creators produce, publish and distribute themselves) provided one way to
leverage this liminal space.
To bring the zine project to life, I reached out to Sojourner Truth librarian Madeline Veitch and we designed a zine-writing unit where students first learned about the activist history of zines and then wrote and edited their own zines on their experience of Covid-19, with an attention to social justice issues. Notably, these zines have a particular historic value to our institution, and thus
students were invited to submit their finalized zines to be part of a permanent collection at the Sojourner Truth library. At this time, 12 students have elected to submit their work to be part of the library’s special permanent collection on zines addressing Covid-19.
In October 2020, Madeline and I delivered a presentation on this project at the New York State Communication Association conference.
I also believe it is important to help connect students with job and practical learning opportunities. In this spirit, I worked to assemble a jobs panel for Rutgers undergraduates that was cross-promoted by my department:
Boyraz, M., Crowell, J.K. & File, C. (2015, April). Theory and practice: Communication degrees and media skills in corporate and non-profit settings. Conference panel organized for the New Jersey State Communication Association. Jersey City, NJ.
Flyer for Student Job Fair Event (April, 2015)