Nov. 13-16, 2014
Workshop – Emergent Metaliteracies: Bridging Feminist Participatory Digital Environments and the College Classroom

Gender and Women's Studies majors, Sam Pevear '15 and Joseph Mercado '16 presented alongside Gender and Women's Studies Visiting Professor, Ariella Rotramel, Research/Instruction Librarian Ashley Hanson and Instructional Designer/Developer Laura Little at the 2014 National Women's Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Sam Pevear '15

From November 13 – 16, 2014, I had the opportunity to attend the National Women's Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a four-day conference where scholars, graduate as well as undergraduate students and activists within the field of Women's Studies got to share their knowledge and experiences with one another.

I was privileged to present alongside Professor Ariella Rotramel, Joseph Mercado '16, Laura Little and Ashley Hanson. Our workshop was titled; Emergent Metaliteracies: Bridging Feminist Participatory Digital Environments and the College Classroom. This workshop aimed to explore collaborative digital assignments and tools developed by a team made up of a professor, technology liaison, and librarian to enhance students' metaliteracy in undergraduate gender and women's studies courses. These models encouraged students to transgress against pervasive “banking” and high stakes testing educational training, and to re-envision themselves and their peers as knowledge creators. Three models were presented, highlighting their basis in feminist pedagogy, technology support, and contributions to students' learning as well as potential limitations. The discussion served as a springboard for brainstorming possible projects and scaling to different educational contexts.

This conference was not only a great way to enhance our public speaking skills but was also crucial in extending our networks. As I am in my last year of college I truly value the individuals I was able to connect with and look forward to future opportunities that will stem from this experience. I also cannot end this without thanking Professor Rotramel for her incredible mentorship, undying encouragement and support that she has given us over the years.

Joseph Mercado '16, Prof. Ariella Rotramel, Sam Pevear '15 and Veronica Arreola, the assistant director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender and the director of the Women in Science and Engineering program at the University of Illinois at
Chicago.  Arreola helped Professor Rotramel start pursuing her interest in Gender and Women's Studies as an undergraduate. 
At left, Joseph Mercado '16, Prof. Ariella Rotramel, Sam Pevear '15 and Veronica Arreola, the assistant director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender and the director of the Women in Science and Engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Arreola helped Professor Rotramel start pursuing her interest in Gender and Women's Studies as an undergraduate.

Prof. Ariella Rotramel, Gender and Women's Studies Visiting Professor

I am grateful for the opportunity to present with Ashley, Laura, Sam and Joey at this year's National Women's Studies Association. Creating a proposal together and developing our workshop created a space for us to reflect on the work that we have done together over the past two years. It highlighted for me the importance of a team approach to teaching generally and, in particular, when using technology. Our collaboration also furthered my sense of how I can deepen these practices as I continue teaching. The enthusiasm that everyone had for our work and participating in the conference was also significant for me as it was an opportunity to share and consider from a range of perspectives the field that I have been part of since my undergraduate years. As the effort to bridge communities is one of the values of the conference, introducing my colleagues and students to NWSA participants who were influential in my experiences as an undergraduate and graduate student was rewarding for me. As a group we were able to attend a range of events and discuss the ideas and varying approaches that ignite gender and women's studies today. We explored topics as varied as ethnography and activism and the politics of race and gender within academia. I am very pleased with the intellectual growth Joey and Sam demonstrated as they eagerly took on the work of preparing for the conference and making the most of this experience to further their studies. I am appreciative of the support and interest that Ashley and Laura both have in gender and women's studies and their commitment to working with our department to create opportunities for innovation as we further student learning. My thanks to the Department of Gender and Women's Studies and the CCSRE for providing funding support to make our participation possible. Finally, I extend my thanks to Professor Candace Howes for her thoughtful engagement during our shared time at NWSA and her leadership of GWS.

Photo of Joseph Mercado '16 & Sam Peaver '15 visiting Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, “El Morro,” the most popular historic site in Puerto Rico. At left, Joseph Mercado '16 & Sam Peaver '15 visiting Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, "El Morro," the most popular historic site in Puerto Rico

Joseph Mercado '16

The opportunity to go to Puerto Rico for a nationwide conference that pulls some of the strongest scholars in my field together (plenty of which I read on a daily basis) has been the most spectacular experience I've had to date in college. Already this unique opportunity has opened my mind to the many possibilities I have here at college and beyond my four years. I feel activated as a change agent and all that I've learned at the conference is already beginning to transform my thinking about ways to enhance areas on campus like the Women's Center.

As for working with Professor Rotramel, Ashley, Laura and Sam, I was incredibly impressed with the collaboration from beginning to end. People from the outside looking in probably see us as very different, so much so that they wonder how the collaboration worked so well. The group was dynamic, everyone had a purpose and we all were interested in each others fields. Essentially there were no 'token members' of our group, there was an equitable distribution of members on the team which put into practice all that I'd been learning about collaboration and coalitions.

I would like to thank CCSRE (Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity), the GWS Department (Gender and Women's Studies), Professor Rotramel and Professor Howes for providing funds and making this experience possible, as well as, the entire team for making it such a great experience and helping along the way with anything and everything. Thank you!

Sam Pevear and Joseph Mercado received funding from the Gender and Women's Studies Department, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Susan J. Rose Travel Fund.