Bryn Mawr College 125 Anniversary logoChanging Education, the first 360° offering at Bryn Mawr, was inspired by the College's 125th anniversary in 2010-11. Because it aimed to give women access to higher education as rigorous and as thorough as that offered to men, Bryn Mawr was "a radical departure in the field of education," said the interdisciplinary group of professors who collaborated on Changing Education. The five 360° courses, offered over two semesters, examined ways in which marginalized people have gained access to learning through various educational experiments, such as 19th century distance-learning initiatives, women’s colleges that aspired to academic excellence, desegregated elementary and high schools in America’s cities, and service-learning programs. Courses were offered in biology, education, English, growth and structure of cities, and history.

Changing Education Courses:

Biology 214: The Historical Role of Women in Genetics and Embryology

Taught by Greg Davis. A more focused version of a course offered in previous years, this course examined the role that women scientists and technicians played in the development of genetics and embryology from the late 19th to the mid 20th century. The course looked at the work and lives of well known and lesser known individuals, asking how factors such as their educational experiences and mentor relationships played a role in their contributions. One facet of the course will focus on the Bryn Mawr Biology department from the founding of the College into the mid-20th century.

Education 260: Identity, Access and Innovation in Education

Taught by Jody Cohen. This course explored formal policies that attempt to address race, gender, and language in education and the informal ways that such policies play out in access to education and in knowledge construction and production. Starting with an analysis of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954 and moving through other major pieces of education policy such as Title IX and No Child Left Behind, the course examined issues such as (re)segregation and integration on an institutional level and ways that communities create and express knowledge in multiple venues. Participatory action research involved students in working with an urban high school.

English 258: Finding Knowledge Between the Leaves: 19th Century Literature of Education

Taught by Anne Bruder. This class examined innovative extra-institutional methods and spaces of learning, exploring a genealogy of unconventional and progressive models of instruction found in imaginative literature, in personal letters, and in material culture. Readings ranged from novels by Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Louisa May Alcott to poetry and letters by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to personal narratives by Henry David Thoreau and Booker T. Washington. These texts were considered as unusual educational experiments—both real and unreal—that were refuges and their students and teachers exiles from the nation’s female academies, public grammar and high schools, and newlyopened colleges. The course asked how, in the process of working beyond the classroom walls, these writers transformed the meaning of education in America.

Growth and Structure of Cities 276: Mural Arts

Taught by muralist Shira Walinsky and Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Director Jane Golden .The class involved discussions of murals historically and through the present day. The class also explored community-based practice and grassroots organizing through readings, research and volunteering to help high-school students with college-essay preparation. Students were involved in the making of a large-scale mural whose concepts reflect intergenerational women’s leadership: its past, present and future. This involved helping the muralist with the content, design and execution of the mural. Additionally, students created posters (silk-screens and wood cuts), which spread awareness of women’s leadership and intergenerational partnerships. Through the process of creating the mural, videos and posters, students learned about color theory, graphic design, and video editing.

History 325: Women’s Higher Education in the 19th and 20th centuries: The History of Bryn Mawr College

Taught by Elliott Shore. The course used texts on the history of education in the United States, on the history of women’s education, and on the social history of late-19th- and early-20th-century Philadelphia/ Main Line/ Quaker education; it employed a series of guest speakers; the research will be based at the Archives of Bryn Mawr College and include the active participation of the staff of the Special Collections Department of Information Services. The international conference at Bryn Mawr on September 23-25: Heritage and Hope: Women’s Education in a Global Context, was a central text of the course. The specific topics covered after we master the context and outline of the history of the College were chosen by the students and the instructor with an eye towards what kinds of archival materials are available. Assignments were geared towards producing a final research paper.

Read more about Changing Education in the Alumnae Bulletin »