2024 STEM Educators’ Lecture Recap

By Cliff Rouder, Ph.D.

The CAT’s STEM Educators’ Lecture, held on April 10, 2024, featured guest speakers Dr. Tara Nkrumah and Cornelio “Coky” Aguilera. Dr. Nkrumah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Preparation, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research is on equitable teaching practices for anti-oppressive discourse in education and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Coky Aguilera studied as an Acting Specialist at UW Madison, works professionally with Tampa-area theater companies, and along with Dr. Nkrumah and colleagues have brought the Theatre of the Oppressed to different universities to engage academic audiences in critical investigations of inequities. Check out this Youtube video to learn more about the historical roots of Theatre of the Oppressed.

We were delighted to have their colleagues Dr. Vonzell Agosto, Dr. Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, and doctoral candidate Maria Migueliz Valcarlos join as they engaged Temple STEM and theater faculty in an interactive and engaging session titled, Unmasking the “Isms” in STEM Education to Promote Equitable Teaching and Learning. The speakers began by introducing a framework for the session–Iris Marion Young’s Five Faces of Oppression. They used this framework to help us think about how “isms” such as racism, ableism or genderism can manifest through the five faces of oppression, which are 

  • Exploitation
  • Marginalization
  • Powerlessness
  • Cultural Imperialism
  • Violence
  • For a more in-depth look at this framework, see Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression” in Geographic Thought: A Praxis Perspective.

As participants worked through definitions of these facets of oppression and shared examples of how they can manifest in our disciplines, departments, and classrooms, the speakers then engaged participants in a series of theater-based exercises that encouraged them to use mimicry and the creation of human tableaus to explore and address physical and emotional aspects of oppression.

For more on Dr. Nkrumah’s research, check out these recent publications:

  • Nkrumah, T. (2023). The Inequities Embedded in Measures of Engagement in Science Education for African American Learners from a Culturally Relevant Science Pedagogy Lens. Education Sciences, 13(7), 739.
  • Nkrumah, T., & Scott, K. A. (2022). Mentoring in STEM higher education: a synthesis of the literature to (re) present the excluded women of color. International Journal of STEM Education, 9(1), 1-23.
  • Nkrumah, T., & Mutegi, J. (2022). Exploring racial equity in the science education journal review process. Science Education, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21719

As always, our CAT staff is ready to help you! To explore how to incorporate this work into your STEM courses or how to design and implement classroom-based research in this area, book a consultation appointment or email a CAT staff member directly.

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