Episode 2 - Transforming Tech: Issues and Interventions in STEM and Silicon Valley

About

Bringing to the fore massive surveillance networks, playful apps, police checkpoints, and social media campaigns, Professor Abigail De Kosnik's 'Transforming Tech' American Cultures Course (New Media 151AC) takes a critical lens to a collection of high-profile issues within an industry of daunting influence, exposing the underpinnings of the power dynamics at play across issues including border enforcement, algorithmic bias, tech worker activism, misinformation, and more. It culminates in a call to action through creative digital assignments that raise the question of what possible interventions could be introduced to address these issues, the firms’ concentrated control over our futures, and how new media technologies might facilitate alternative collective imaginaries. Reflecting on their experience in 151AC, one student shared their advice for future students, "lean into this incredible learning opportunity. It will teach you to create and thrive in sustainable, inclusive futures."


In November 2021, Professor De Kosnik was honored as one of the recipients of the 2021 American Cultures Excellence in Teaching Award.

Transcript

[Podcast Introduction]

Victoria Robinson:

Welcome to the Pedagogy Podcast. A discussion of equity, inclusion and justice in the classroom at UC Berkeley, hosted by me Victoria Robinson, Director of the American Cultures Center.

Marisella Rodriguez:

And me, Marisella Rodriguez, senior consultant at the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Victoria Robinson:

This collaboration is spotlighting the American Cultures’ Excellence in Teaching Awardees in 2021, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the American Cultures Center. The AC Center supports faculty members from over 50 departments across campus teaching courses developed to meet the AC requirement, which is the only campus wide requirement for all students addressing issues central to understanding race and culture and inviting UC Berkeley as a community of staff and students and faculty into analyses critical to our complex, diverse worlds.

Marisella Rodriguez:

The Center for Teaching and Learning partners with campus educators to inspire, enrich, and innovate Berkeley's collective teaching and learning community. Our work on campus is informed by the idea that effective teaching is learned and improved over time. Each of our guests have demonstrated this same commitment to progressive refinement, especially as it relates to equity inclusion and justice oriented teaching strategies.

Marisella Rodriguez:

In this episode, we're excited to be joined by Gail de Kosnik, associate professor and director of Berkeley’s Center for New Media. Welcome, Gail.

[Interview Begins]

Marisella Rodriguez:

Welcome to another mini episode co-hosted by Center for Teaching and Learning Colleagues and American Cultures Center colleagues. We are here to spotlight teaching and pedagogy across Berkeley campuses, and these first couple of episodes are really geared towards equity minded pedagogy, and we're really just going to blow that term up because it can mean so many different things.

Marisella Rodriguez:

And we're joined by Gail today. Welcome.

Gail de Kosnik:

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Victoria Robinson:

Yes, Very happy to share this phase today with colleagues, Marisella and Gail as Victoria Robinson, director of the American Culture Center. And to start off this podcast series, it really made sense to start with the recipients of the 2020-2021 Innovation and Teaching Award, which creates a different kind of recognition of the ways in which faculty bring their expertise and respect and kindness and commitment and brilliance to the ways that pedagogy gets constructed in the classroom.

Victoria Robinson:

And Gail, you were being recognized by the students for so many different things. But one really was the kind of respect that you have for how students, however they may think of as the differences that they bring to the classroom, the respect that you bring to the ways in which they are and show up in in the room.

Victoria Robinson:

I'm wondering if you could explain a little bit about your overarching kind of philosophy of the classroom with with that recognition at the center?

Gail de Kosnik:

What a great question. I feel like that gets at such a powerful and deep part of just human being and not just pedagogy. So first of all, thank you so much to AC for the award. It's so meaningful and I wish every single faculty and staff member on this whole campus could have got an award for teaching on Zoom during the pandemic.

Gail de Kosnik:

I felt like so many people put forth just, I mean, double, triple, quadruple the effort that they had in previous years. And, you know, we already put in a lot of time and energy into our teaching. And so just the what it took to get through the COVID era, I think is just extraordinary. And I feel really special and lucky and honored.

Gail de Kosnik:

But I also just kind of in my heart want to share that award with literally everybody on this campus, including the students. And so to your question about respecting students or, you know, honoring their views and allowing them to have a space of authority in the class, I think my underlying philosophy is that students are the teachers as well as me, that we occupy a more lateral relationship to each other than a hierarchical one.

Gail de Kosnik:

And of course, we have different roles. My role is to facilitate and to bring a certain perspective that comes from research into the classroom. So that's my job, is to consider my own research, do some additional research it takes to stage, you know, a class well to write lectures well. But the other part of my job is to invite the other teachers into the space and to make sure that the students are teaching their peers and really bringing forth their own expertise and that's what I look for in all of my, you know, all the assignments or I don't really give exams, but I have assignments, papers, projects that students do.

Gail de Kosnik:

And what I really expect them to do is to teach me something or to teach each other something. You know, if it's group work, I mean, their views and opinions and how they synthesize information is so valuable and so important for so many people to hear. And I just take that for granted. And I think it's kind of unfortunate that our hierarchical educational system from kindergarten on maybe teaches students it gives them another it gives them the view of themselves that they're less important somehow in the classroom.

Gail de Kosnik:

But it's all for them. I mean, it's the only reason that classrooms exist is for the student. And so the students, you know, when they are speaking, when they are showing up and they are sharing, that's a successful classroom. I don't think a successful classroom is one in which the teacher, whoever they are, receives 94% of the attention.

Gail de Kosnik:

I think that's a failed classroom, actually.

Victoria Robinson:

And actually maybe that explains a lot of why this course in particular is at the heart of the recognition that you're receiving, because you're also questioning roles, responsibilities from Berkeley into bigger worlds. So the course that you're being recognized for in particular is New Media 151AC: Transforming Tech: Issues and Interventions in STEM and Silicon Valley. So I'm just wondering if from that first response, could you tell us a little bit about the class and and how it's constructed and what are your overall goals for it?

Gail de Kosnik:

Definitely. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to talk about it. So New Media 151AC: Transforming Tech was inspired by a Business Insider article I read that said UC Berkeley graduates more Silicon Valley workers than any higher ed institution in the world. So that makes sense. We’re a big public university. We are just north and east of most of Silicon Valley, so we are part of a company town and it makes sense that so many of our graduates choose to get jobs in tech.

Gail de Kosnik:

But when I thought about that, I thought we have an amazing opportunity here as educators. We don't have to allow the kinds of radical inequities and the racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia that we see on social media, for instance, but also that is embedded in algorithms in general. As Safiya Noble’s book Algorithms of Oppression, and the Algorithmic Justice League have pointed out and point out over and over, you know, there are so many biases, as the Algorithmic Justice League would say, that are encoded into the tech that we use every single day.

Gail de Kosnik:

And I thought, what if we could educate future tech workers to understand how these inequities work in tech and equip them with the skills to not only identify when they see injustice or unfairness or prejudice or bias in tech, not just to see it. But to be able to articulate it, to say what is problematic about it, and also to brainstorm solutions about it and to develop the skills to talk about those.

Gail de Kosnik:

You know, they, both their perceptions, identification of the problem and possible solutions to be able to gain some communications and public speaking experience so that in a future room one day they might be the one person in on the engineering team that says, wait a second, this is not going to work for disabled people. Women are being harassed by our platform, you know, that are able to bring out these affordances that are not so great for our society that happen all the time in tech.

Gail de Kosnik:

But, you know, there has to be at least one voice in those rooms that is willing to say it. We can't rely on, quote unquote, the people to protest every single thing that's wrong with tech. It would be better and easier for the society if tech itself, the tech workers themselves had that perspective and that history and that consciousness and the skills to say something and do something about these problems.

Gail de Kosnik:

And so that's my, frankly, ultimate goal with this class. But it also could be a bit of a pipe dream. I mean, we don't really know how many future tech workers are taking are going to take this class. So at the least, I think what the class does is it helps people perceive the latent and hidden and subtextual element of the tech that they use.

Gail de Kosnik:

You know, it brings to the surface these kinds of inequities and unfairness that might just be a bit unconscious for most people. So I think that actually is quite healing. If that's not too strong a word, you know, to to tell people, oh, no, if you think you get harassed more on social media than your male friends do, if you identify as female, you're probably right.

Gail de Kosnik:

And there's research to back you up. And it's systemic and society wide. It is not, quote unquote, just you. And I think when students learn that research, they feel relieved. In a way, it's also horrifying, but they feel like, oh, my gosh, I thought, you know, I was just somehow a lightning rod for these terrible trolls to come at me.

Gail de Kosnik:

But no, it's the way our tech ecosystems work. Unfortunately.

Victoria Robinson:

I mean, what I hear in that too, is it's a powerful learning opportunity to not feel isolated, to feel connected, which also feels like it's a it's that anti-world to in some ways the reverberations of tech. So that kind of intimacy that you're building up and connectivity that you're building up.

Marisella Rodriguez:

Yes. And broadening that from not just one technology, but it's likely pervasive in other tech that we engage with beyond social media and other spaces when we talk to people online.

Gail de Kosnik:

Absolutely. I mean, one thing we've seen and now okay, I want to give a little bit of credit to Amazon and IBM for shutting down their automated facial rec programs when it was incontrovertible that they were racist and that they were habitually regularly identifying people of color as criminals. Nevertheless, even though we might not for now have these extremely racist facial rec systems, for example, we have many other tech systems that are biased, that are operative.

Gail de Kosnik:

They're not the same as a facial rec system that automatically classifies a Black man as a crime, as likely to be a criminal or a middle Eastern North African man. But we do have systems every day, as you're saying, in the tech landscape, like Apple's credit card, that just automatically assigns lower credit, you know, limits to women. And we've seen cases and lots of famous people tweeted about this when it happened, cases where a husband and wife, a wealthy husband and wife applied for the same Apple credit card, the wife got half the credit limit and they share all of their finances.

Gail de Kosnik:

So 100% of their financial background is the same. Credit scores are the same. But the man of the family got twice as much credit limit. And then, you know, those couples complained and got nowhere. They individually got their credit limits equaled out. But what they complained, you know, after they complained enough to get that, they said Apple did not make any commitment to investigating why the algorithm did this.

Gail de Kosnik:

So they didn't feel satisfied because they saw it was a structural issue. And they they themselves, you know, it wasn't enough. And I think this is right wasn't enough to have their situation rectified for their own family. They were like, this is a problem. It obviously is your algorithm. But but big tech companies are not that interested right now in investigating those embedded biases.

Gail de Kosnik:

So it's exactly right. What you're saying, that these are system wide. These are these operate at a level of that's very unseen. There's nothing on an Apple credit card that's going to say we're prejudiced in favor of men. We think men deserve more money. They're not going to publish that assumption. And yet somehow that is the assumption of the algorithm.

Victoria Robinson:

So in the classroom, I think a lot of classrooms, like in American culture, of course, say they have those kind of those moments where students can actually be outraged. And in some ways, that outrage comes from why didn't I know? How come I've not had this conversation before? Has it been hidden from me? And then it sinks into the personal its like this this feels like I'm in this. And I'm wondering how do you construct a relationship in the classroom, an environment where in hot topic conversations with a lot of emotion involved, How do you manage? How do you manage those conversations and the connection?

Gail de Kosnik:

Thank you so much for asking that question. I think about that very often and we've talked about that Victoria, in many forums and so what we have to do as educators today in terms of managing emotions and politically charged conversations is quite a lot. I personally think it's good we have to do that work and that we do it because where else are people going to have these conversations in such a deep way?

Gail de Kosnik:

But I will say at UC Berkeley we see a real extreme of political spectrum represented in our classrooms. We see not just I think the stereotype of Berkeley students is that they're the neo-hippies or something. They're completely woke leftists, Marxists and are ready to march in the streets against, you know, The Man at at all hours, any day of the year.

Gail de Kosnik:

And of course, we do have these students and they're wonderful. We also have extreme right oriented students. We have students from the alt right. We have students who believe in conspiracy theories. For instance, we have students that come in to classes like American Cultures classes really ready and eager to debate the left leaning students in the class. So when we have to hold space for conversations in our classrooms, especially American Cultures classes that explicitly address race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, nationality, we really have to be ready for an extremely wide spectrum of views being expressed.

Gail de Kosnik:

And I have to say it can be so difficult to know how to, especially the conspiracy theories, I think how, for example, in Transforming Tech, we had one student, write, basically that Coronavirus had been invented by Chinese, by the Chinese government in a Chinese lab, and that is a famous conspiracy theory. And there is a kind of pseudo scientific paper that makes that claim, that says that that claim is based on data, but that's been debunked widely that one, scientific paper.

Gail de Kosnik:

But because it kind of has a scientist who wrote that paper behind it and it appeared in a not terrible journal, my student was quoting it left and right, you know, in multiple assignments as as just the truth. And there were many sources like that that the student would draw on, like sort of conspiracy theories about the government and Google and what Google is willing to do to help the U.S. military or not.

Gail de Kosnik:

There's actually quite a large conspiracy theory around that, which I learned about through reading the student's work. And so all I want to say just by cite, citing these examples as just it is a lot, so a lot to manage, a lot to deal with. But with the help of the head of student affairs who’s a wonderful, brilliant member of the Berkeley community named Alfred Day. With Al’s help, what my graduate school instructors and I did was set the limit at believable sources, you know, reliable information sources. We basically said if you cite other sources outside of the readings from this class, then you have to cite sources that are approved by Snopes and by other kind of fact checking, you know, organizations, the UC Berkeley Library has a lot of fact checking ratings kind of assembled in one website, you know, So we basically said to read the resources from the library, teach yourself what are reliable sources and what are not.

Gail de Kosnik:

And if you turn in work, that is basically not the truth. You're going to get points deducted from your work. But that that is about how people perform in the class in terms of their grades. It doesn't make a situation where two students are really going at it any easier. So, you know, there are still so many questions about what to do and how to manage classroom conflicts, especially around hot topic political issues.

Gail de Kosnik:

And, you know, I mean, I think the two basic routes are either to I mean, this is lame to say an obvious kind of, but then we don't talk about it enough. So maybe it's not. I think the two choices are either address it on the spot or tell the class you understand what is happening and the severity of it and ask to delay that conversation to the next day and give yourself a couple of nights a night or two to think about your strategy for addressing what came up, you know?

Gail de Kosnik:

So I think that's all we can do as instructors. But it is it's difficult, it's challenging.

Victoria Robinson:

That’s such good advice. And also thank you for calling in our academic partners on campus and, you know, showing the value of how they help us construct the classrooms.

Marisella Rodriguez:

It seems to me like there's this tension of wanting to decenter the instructor so that it's a student centered space, but also providing enough structure where an instructor can step in as needed or shape the conversation to be mindful of digital literacy and information literacy skill buildings, even if that's not necessarily a 1 to 1 connection to the course content, but it's always there in any academic course.

Marisella Rodriguez:

And so I would love to hear more from you, Gail, about just what advice you would give to instructors about having these equity focused conversations with these diverse potential student perspectives in the room, but also being willing to step back as the instructor? How do you do that?

Gail de Kosnik:

Oh, thank you. What a really thoughtful and intelligent question. I think that what you said about student centered is really interesting because I guess back to the philosophy I was talking about earlier. I think of every class as having multiple centers. I don't think the the centeredness has to be either on the instructor or the student. I think among the students there are groupings just kind of in terms of their interests, in terms of their belief systems and their backgrounds and so forth.

Gail de Kosnik:

So I think every classroom has, you know, groups of students and then there's the instructor or there's multiple instructors. And so the center just has to change. It just has to shift around a lot, you know? And I think the job of the instructor, part of it is to make sure the center is moving along, that not any one party is being foregrounded all the time.

Gail de Kosnik:

And and to think about equity in terms of considering how often each of the groups gets to weigh in, I think it's important to not, for example, let the most eager talkers dominate the whole semester. That's such a difficult place to be if you're not one of those five students that loves to talk all the time, you know, it could end up being a really boring and even painful semester for you.

Gail de Kosnik:

So I think the part of the job of the instructor is, yeah, to keep the microphone moving, so to speak, and to kind of indicate just how you're prioritizing conversation ends, that you do want to hear from every group. You know that if there is a contingent that thinks the readings for today sucked. We want to hear from those people, too, you know, So come on in and join the conversation.

Gail de Kosnik:

And then I think your question about equity, you know, ties into that is sort of assuming that even dissenting views have a place in the class one way or another. And I have to say, you know, sometimes that does mean limiting conversation time around, especially really heightened and charged views, but allowing those students to express that in their work, for instance, in the in the work that they submit to the instructor team.

Gail de Kosnik:

So it's never about completely undermining voices in the room, but giving them space and time and thinking too, about what is the appropriate space and time for each of these views to kind of be here. You know.

Marisella Rodriguez:

It was once shared to me that the way that a conversation happens in a classroom oftentimes is a ping pong ball instructor to one student, instructor to another student. And it's just very much one at a time. But how you've talked about it and when this visual that's coming to my mind is just this centering or spotlight that moves around the room from students in the back to the front, to the instructor, to an instructional teammate on the side who's ready to tap in at the next step of the class.

Marisella Rodriguez:

So I'm really loving this image that you're just bringing forth in my mind. It's just this a holistic perspective of learning and you're really taking a horizontal approach to what's commonly, like you said earlier, very hierarchical vertical take in learning, especially higher ed.

Victoria Robinson:

It's also very energetic. I think it's very engaging. You're having to. Well, yeah, and also the labor of you like the attention of you and I'm just wondering how you're not exhausted at the end of the day, you know, putting that together.

Gail de Kosnik:

I think that's such a great metaphor for that ping pong model. I can really see that in my head and I actually think that would be more exhausting always being the conversation driver or respondent than facilitating a broader conversation in the classroom. But, you know, I will also say I love your metaphor for the spotlight moving around, which is quite beautiful.

Gail de Kosnik:

And I do think the spotlight moving around. Sometimes that happens from class session to class session. The spotlight sometimes doesn't move around so much in one class meeting. So there will be students, for example, LGBTQ students will be really activated by queer issues and, you know, homophobic or transphobic bias. They'll be really vocal that day or those weeks, you know, they'll be participating in a way that's meaningful to them and emotional for them.

Gail de Kosnik:

And I do think those students should sort of hold that day, those readings and those assignments and that whole task to really think through what is tech doing to these communities in this country right now is specifically for those students. So and they might say less on a day that focuses on anti-immigration tech, for instance. And so I think that the spotlight, it does move around.

Gail de Kosnik:

And I do want to hear from everybody, but there are certainly groups that are more active and more engaged by certain topics than other topics just at any given time. So sometimes a day will go where I will sort of be able to ask a question that gets so many different views involved in that one hour or something.

Gail de Kosnik:

But another time I'll be like, Great. I'm kind of glad that we only heard from people from the community who is the most affected by this tech and that's appropriate. So I think it differs from session to session, I would say. And like I said, it feels not exhausting at all, but really energizing to get people activated and to have them really want to step forward and just say with their whole chest, you know, what I think about this is this. How I am responding? Is this from a very centered place. So I love that when students feel safe enough and also kind of, you know, it's a big word, but inspired enough to share that way.

Victoria Robinson:

I think also how you've just spoken about the ability for many people to see themselves in the class and feel empowered to have their voices in the classroom is actually about the construction yourself of the class because it's multidimensional and critically intersectional, which I think also tells us that those are the classes that lead in the ways in which others can be inspired to create frameworks where all students feel involved at some point or another in the discussion.

Victoria Robinson:

So one, just thank you for that, the most beautiful class design. And then I'm wondering, lots of us have favorites in terms of that moment in the class where you're like, Ooh, can't wait to get there. So I'm wondering if you have a favorite moment in the class scale or also a favorite assignment where you're like, This is going to be fun. Just wait until they get to this point.

Marisella Rodriguez:

This is a great question, by the way. I love this question.

Gail de Kosnik:

I love that I need to have those. It's like your favorite episode in the season of TV. I love that. I need to think that way more. I will say that not from my perspective, but from the students perspective. One class that stood out quite a lot in the sense that students gave me a lot of feedback about it afterwards was the day that we talked about James Damore’s Google Manifesto, which is basically of quite serious and quite long memo to all of Google that states that women are not qualified to be engineers or that women are much, much, much, by nature in their essential being, less qualified to be engineers than men are.

Gail de Kosnik:

And Damore is fired for that manifesto. But there was quite a lot of support for that manifesto at Google at the time among the employees. I mean, there I won't put a percentage on it. And I think that would be impossible because not every person Google spoke to a journalist at that time, but the reporting tells us that plenty of people said, oh, yeah, we we feel suppressed at Google because we cannot express this view.

Gail de Kosnik:

We cannot openly say that women are worse engineers than men. And I thank this manifesto for teaching us that it's okay to do that, for trying to open that door on that conversation, which is, of course, I mean, profoundly sexist. So the day I lectured about that and then we had a class discussion about it, several students afterwards, this is one great affordances of teaching on Zoom, several students afterwards said they sent that lecture to their moms or to their sisters or to just their friends. I mean, there were people that learned about feminism and how to talk about gender and equity through this example. And that was so thrilling that perhaps, you know, it's possible STEM students don't really get to have that awesome gender studies classes.

Gail de Kosnik:

Freshman, for instance. It's not guaranteed that they're going to be exposed even to sort of the basics, you know, the preliminaries of feminist theory or feminist thought or or critical gender studies. And so to have such a lively example that's so extreme and almost hilarious in its extremity, but to have that have quite serious effects on people where they felt like, Oh, this is what it is to defend women's equality and to speak about that in an intelligent way. That was so moving to me.

Gail de Kosnik:

I was so pleased by that. That said, we did have a student, and I saw this paper, that at the end of that unit, the unit response paper, that said, Oh, I'm so glad we read James Damore's manifesto, because nothing else in this class that we've had to read has really made any sense to me. But this manifesto made sense right away.

Gail de Kosnik:

I understood every word of it, and I'm so glad that you assigned it and that I can respond to it because finally, finally, like, I get it. So yeah, so you never know what even your favorite day might have, really? Well, first of all, students don't have to come on the favorite day either. I have a feeling that student really didn't attend Zoom class that day.

Victoria Robinson:

I'm going to hold on to the other parts of the story, which is that students took it home to their moms and their grandmothers and their daughters, and that's powerful that people want to share it outside of the classroom.

Gail de Kosnik:

I loved that. I never anticipated. Why would somebody watch a Zoom video of a college class that they don't have to, but they're whoever you know, that's college students are in their lives. Those college students really wanted to share that particular class session with their family members, which was great. I mean, I hope they sent it to some male family members, too.

Gail de Kosnik:

I hope it, but perhaps they sent it to the female ones to reaffirm them and to tell them I understand something about what you went through in the workplace. Perhaps, you.

Victoria Robinson:

Know, maybe in a few years we'll be seeing a new manifesto at Google because your students will be there. Oh.

Gail de Kosnik:

Here's hoping. Plus, the class action lawsuit by women employees that's going on right now.

Victoria Robinson:

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Marisella Rodriguez:

And all of it will have a link to your recorded lecture. Thats very important.

Victoria Robinson:

You will be the Kevin Bacon of the tech world.

Gail de Kosnik:

Yes, Yes. My most heavily reblogged and liked post on Tumblr is about women's representation in the Marvel Universe and I feel just a little ownership over Marvel's recent, you know, just barely more feminist when I see a whole TV series that are focused on women characters, I'm like, Well, I hope they saw that Tumblr post. Because lots of people have been feeling the need for that representation for a long time.

Marisella Rodriguez:

A lot of these examples and your courses and just how students have reacted to your courses, you were hesitant to say it, but I will say it loudly and proudly are inspired by your course. That's one of the wonderful things that I see about the AC program and AC courses is this ability to maybe not even ability yet, but opportunity to connect to other people's stories, experiences and to have it hit home in a different way where it wasn't landing before.

Gail de Kosnik:

Absolutely. And I would also like to thank Victoria and the whole AC network and, you know, the center itself and also just the number of people that are invited into AC. You know, Victoria really wanted me to apply to the Adobe Fellows program that supported this course and Adobe is great, but you know, the real value of that program was having a cohort help me and we all helped each other develop our new American Cultures courses and we had all taught and we had all taught American Cultures courses quite a bit before.

Gail de Kosnik:

So it wasn't like the cohort entered the room completely new to AC. And I get the feeling that all of us as instructors would have taught those kinds of courses anyway, even if there were not an American Cultures Center or framework or designation for courses. But what is so nice about AC is that we know we're not alone.

Gail de Kosnik:

You know, to reference a point Victoria made earlier about the students, but as instructors, it's so nice to know we're not alone and it's nice to know that these kinds of really challenging and systemic parts of teaching AC. We have support, we have places to go, people to ask, and even just a place where we feel emotionally reinforced like this is challenging and is challenging for others too.

Gail de Kosnik:

And I'm just going to sit in that camaraderie. That's really nice. Wow.

Victoria Robinson:

Well, thank you so much. And and this podcast is part of that. The building goes on.

Marisella Rodriguez:

Yes. I was just going to. That’s such an opportunity to spotlight where we are in this physical space.

Victoria Robinson:

Absolutely. Yeah. So as part of that community, Gail and I would say a central member of it and being recognized this year, thank you so much. Is there is there a last piece of advice or wisdom you'd like to impart to everybody else?

Gail de Kosnik:

I think the what I just keep giving myself is advice, and I would give this to any AC instructor who asks is to really just believe that what you are doing is worth it. I think it can be very dissuading and discouraging when we have students say that they really loved the James Damore manifesto and, you know, take take the wrong lessons or sort of use your class as a platform for spouting extremist and conspiracy theory type views.

Gail de Kosnik:

You know, it can be really hard, but I feel like what we are doing in these classes is so important and it is changing lives. And even the students that say absolutely nothing to us about how the class went. You know, I do feel like there is a way that students take forward their education in social difference and identity and live that in their lives.

Gail de Kosnik:

You know, they are educated about it after they take one of our AC classes. And that is such a noble and powerful and honorable thing to do. So I think even on even on your hard days, just to remember and tell yourself it's worth it. You're doing the work, it's necessary work. It is having impact even if we don't see it.

Victoria Robinson:

Thank you. And that reminds me of the most important thing that you shared at the beginning of the pandemic, which was when coming into conversation with other faculty about advice. You said grace, we need grace for each other. And I think that that inspired so many people to think about what they needed, what they needed with other people, and then how to bring that into relationship with the classroom.

Victoria Robinson:

So again, thank you.

Gail de Kosnik:

Oh, thank you so much. Just quickly following up on that, what I say these days is find that hook and reach up and take yourself off of it. This is a very difficult time for literally everybody. Let yourself off the hook. Don't feel like you have to, have to, have to, you should, should, should. Feel more like I did what I could.

Gail de Kosnik:

That was what I could do.

Marisella Rodriguez:

And you showed up and it's done.

Gail de Kosnik:

And you did it.

Marisella Rodriguez:

And we can move on.

Victoria Robinson:

What a great note to be on.

Marisella Rodriguez:

So yeah, and now we've done this.

Victoria Robinson:

We have. Yeah. This was wonderful.

Gail de Kosnik:

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Victoria Robinson:

Thank you for being with us.

Marisella Rodriguez:

Well, thank you for being in conversation with us. We'd also like to thank the Ethnic Studies Changemaker team, which includes Pablo Gonzalez, Rania Salem, Angel Garcia Ballesteros, the American Culture Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning. You can find all of our episodes on the AC and CTL websites, and Spotify.