Amanda Littauer

Associate Professor
Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality | Department of History
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Course(s) Targeted by this Innovation

WGSS 350: LGBTQ+ Studies

Purpose and Impact

Although it has a 300-level course number, WGSS 350 is an introductory survey of the field of LGBTQ+ Studies. The course is required for the certificate and minor in LGBTQ Studies and for the WGSS major, but most students take it to fulfill other requirements. It is a Gen Ed course that is designated as writing infused and that fulfills the "diversity" graduation requirement. Despite some recent improvement, the course has higher than average DFUW rates (in part, I believe, because of mental health-related barriers, which this grant aims to address).

The intended impact of the innovation is to actively support the engagement, access to relevant resources, learning experience, classroom environment, and persistence to course completion of students whose ability to succeed academically has been limited by trauma-related stress.

Description of Innovation

Given recent research and NIU-specific data showing that students of minoritized gender and sexual identities continue to struggle emotionally/psychologically and academically on college campuses, I plan to develop a trauma-informed, healing/learning pedagogy for LGBTQ Studies.

The course innovation grant will support the first stage of this project, which will involve the following:

  1. surveying the research literature on trauma-informed teaching practices and somatic and cognitive (non-clinical) approaches to trauma-related neurobiological dysregulation.
  2. designing 2 or 3 "healing/learning modules" for WGSS 350, which will provide education and resources on post-traumatic stress and anxiety and incorporate research-based exercises (such as mindfulness meditation, reflective writing, paired and group discussion, body scans, sensory stimulation, somatic movement, breathing exercises, and other practices) before, during, and after encountering relevant course material (such as units on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, violence and discrimination, and LGBTQ youth and education). The goal is for students to connect their own, or adjacent, experiences to relevant course material in ways that not only prevent re-traumatization and secondary trauma but which enable students to actively care for themselves as they learn.
  3. implementing and assessing at least one healing/learning module in fall 2023 and at least one additional module in fall 2024.
  4. continuing to develop, share, collaborate on, and possibly publish about queer and trans-centered, trauma-informed pedagogy and learning/healing modules at NIU and beyond, in the future.

Because WGSS 350 will be taught as a synchronous online course in fall 2023, there will be technology-based elements to the trauma-informed practices that I adopt, such as guided meditations and grounding exercises, journaling, drawing/mapping, pair/group sharing and collaboration, music/video sharing, etc. I am also interested in exploring how students might generate a multimedia creative project that incorporates healing practices.

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595

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