EDI, Affect, and STEM Classrooms

Event Date & Time

  • June 9, 2021
    11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Event Description

Classrooms are intellectual and emotional spaces and our disciplines have implicit expectations about the range of emotional expressions that are acceptable to exhibit in our learning spaces; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (often referred to as STEM) and related fields are no exception. Students expect to have very different emotional experiences in women’s studies than they do in courses related to physics, chemistry, soils, nutrition, or animal biology. When bringing in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and de/anti-colonial content into an undergraduate course, we need to unpack social problems in their complexity, emphasizing and confronting painful topics associated with historical and on-going forms of oppression and injustice. The affective load, emotional labour, and potential for re-traumatization that result from engaging in these topics in a STEM classroom is unequally distributed along students based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and class (and other forms of social oppression and discrimination). STEM educators need to be more intentional about curating the affective and emotional dimensions of our classrooms so that we can stay generative when encountering tensions and discomfort.

In this session, we will;

  • Define key terms and concepts associated with emotions and affect in post-secondary classrooms, such as affective load, affective circulation, and affective curation
  • Critically analyze the historical and current norms and practices related to affect and emotions in STEM and health sciences
  • Discuss strategies for developing students capacities to be safe, self-aware, accountable, and intellectually generative when engaging with EDI and de/anti-colonial content

Although the focus will be on STEM and related classroom teaching, we will be drawing from a broad range of pedagogical practices from trauma-sensitive, feminist, anti-racist, and decolonial approaches. Individuals from different faculties and disciplines are invited to join the dialogue and share their perspectives and practices.

Suggested reading: Fawaz, R. (2016). How to make a queer scene, or notes toward a practice of affective curation. Feminist Studies, 42(3), 757-768. [pdf attached]


  • Will Valley, Associate Professor of Teaching Applied Biology

This event will be hosted on Zoom.