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Democracy and Expertise in Science, History and Literature

Seminar Leader:
Karen Detlefsen


Both democracy and expertise are valuable to thought and to human life—democracy for its capacity to take account of a wide range of perspectives and interests, and expertise for its capacity to provide effective solutions to problems we face. But democracy and expertise can collide. In sci-ence, for example, democracy can lead to individuals weigh-ing in on the dangers of vaccinations, against the expert judgment that vaccinations are a common health good. Conversely, claims of expertise can lead to the exclusion (purposeful or inadvertent) of typically marginalized per-spectives. The broadly democratic “history from below” movement of 20th century attempted to eliminate such exclusion by approaching historical events from the view-point of ordinary people. In this seminar, explored how democracy and expertise interact—productively and otherwise—in history and science. As democracy and exper-tise connect with the philosophical understandings of truth and objectivity, they are also intriguing to our understand-ing of literature, both fiction and non-fiction.

Unit TitleAuthor


Dance for Social Justice

Dr. Joy Lurie Friedlander
Keywords: Artistry, Body Mind, Choreography, collaboration, dance, democracy, diversity, Embodied Activism, Equity, Holistic Teaching, Inclusion, Inclusive Pedagogy, perspective, social justice, Somatics

Redefining the Teaching & Learning of Mathematics

Tracy Saltz
Keywords: active learning, Equity, Math Education, mathematical practices, problem solving, productive struggle

Voting Rights and Black Electoral Power in the 21st Century

John Taylor-Baranik
Keywords: civic education, civil rights, dialogical pedagogy, inquiry-based learning, interdisciplinary curriculum, media literacy, student research, voting rights

How the Humanities and Social Sciences Address Today’s Political Divide

Alexander de Arana
Keywords: History, Humanities, identity politics, political divide, social sciences, social studies

A Voice of My Own: Defining Epistemic Injustice in The House on Mango Street

Keeler Park
Keywords: book study, collaborative reading, Creative Writing, Culture, ethnicity, gender, igno-rance, immigrant experience, injustice, knowledge, lan-guage arts, literacy, philosophy, social class, social justice, society, The House on Mango Street, women empowerment, writing project

Gender Stereotypes in the Classroom

Kimberly Sweeney
Keywords: biographies, female characters, gender biases, gender stereotypes, inclusivity, non-binary, positive gender role models, transgender

Power and the Past: A Philosophical Approach to Historiography

Matthew Menschner
Keywords: Epistemology, Historical Thinking Skills, historiography, History, philosophy, social studies

All Voices Heard–Supporting the Multicultural Classroom

Carrie Ochs Toledo
Keywords: 5th grade, democratic classroom, diversity, ELA, Els, epistemic injustice, multicultural, storytelling