Carnegie Mellon University
May 06, 2016

Team of Faculty Win CMU Teaching Innovation Award

Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert (right) poses with the winning Teaching Innovation Award Team: (l-r) Illah Nourbakhsh, John Carson, Jennifer Keating-Miller and her son Liam.Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert (right) poses with the winning Teaching Innovation Award Team: (l-r) Illah Nourbakhsh, John Carson, Jennifer Keating-Miller and her son Liam.

Through ‘Art, Conflict and Technology in Northern Ireland,’ Jennifer Keating-Miller, John Carson and Illah Nourbakhsh introduced students to a history of social strife and reconciliation efforts in North Ireland from the 1960s to the present.

Keating-Miller, special faculty in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of English; Carson from the School of Art; and Nourbakhsh of the Robotics Institute co-taught the course. Students were asked to consider the influence of technological advances on how narratives are shared within a community and around the world. They reflected on and analyzed a variety of literary and visual art sources from the time period and learned how to create mixed-media projects using a digital mapmaking tool and Hear Me systems from CMU's CREATE Lab.

The professors were recognized for their innovative teaching at the university’s Celebration of Education Awards Ceremony on April 26 where they received the inaugural CMU Teaching Innovation Award.

“As with the other awardees, I am impressed by both the depth and breadth of the innovation shown by this instructional team,” said Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation Director Marsha Lovett. “I'm especially interested when innovative courses like this one have highly transferable elements, such as incorporating students' ongoing reflection into project work. The three co-winners also made deliberate moves to integrate their different disciplinary perspectives into the course.”

The class was far reaching in its approach, cross‐listed in three colleges where it attracted students from many majors in the university and was supported by a variety of sources. The faculty arranged a spring break field trip to Belfast, where they met a variety of writers and artists whose work they studied and stakeholders in reconciliation efforts throughout the region.

Laurnie Wilson, a senior double majoring in Creative Writing and History, took the course last year when it was first offered.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the course immediately drew me to it,” she said. “We have so many strong academic programs on this campus, yet it’s rare to have the chance to combine them in such an interesting and tangible way. From the moment I saw the course description I knew that this class would create an intellectual environment unlike any other and I knew I had to be a part of that.”

Keating-Miller said this kind of intellectual environment was really exciting to see.

“We are actually fashioning a new learning space that would not have been possible with just one instructor,” she said. “It would not have been possible with just students coming from one or two disciplines, but the diversity offers an interesting richness that allows us as instructors to not just learn from the other members of our team who are teaching, but to learn tremendous amounts from our students as well.”

Keating-Miller teaches regularly in the Department of English. Previous courses have included ‘British and Irish Modernism,’ ‘Nineteenth Century British and Literary Studies: The New Woman,’ ‘Presenting a Public Self’ and ‘Writing for the Professions.’ In the fall, she’ll teach a new mini-course, ‘Pathways: Dietrich College Career Exploration Seminar,’ which is open to Dietrich College sophomore and juniors.

Keating-Miller’s research interests include representations of colonialism, nationalism and gender relations in 19th century British Literature and 20th century Anglophone literature, primarily in Ireland and parts of the Caribbean. Keating-Miller also pursues work pertaining to memoir, legacies of violence and identity formation in societies in strife.

Her current project, “Performing Peace in the North of Ireland,” which is supported through the Center for Arts in Society’s (CAS) Performance Initiative, focuses on the concept of performance in the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland. She’ll present her work at the International Conference on The Arts in Society at the University of California, Los Angeles in August.

Keating-Miller’s writing has recently appeared in “Critical Quarterly,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “New Hibernia Review” and in artist Rita Duffy's catalog essay, which is on display in Dublin. Her book, “Language, Identity and Liberation in Contemporary Irish Literature,” was awarded the Michael Durkan Prize for Best Book on Irish Language and Culture by the American Conference for Irish Studies in 2011.

She became the assistant dean for educational initiatives at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences in August 2015. In this role, she focuses on synthesizing the educational experience for students studying in the college—working on programs like the Honors Fellowship Program and Under Construction. She is also working with faculty and students on a college Diversity Policy, to ensure the college provides staff, faculty and students equitable access to a high quality education and an inclusive work and learning environment.

Previously, she worked as CMU’s associate director of undergraduate research and national fellowships for six years. Keating-Miller holds a Ph.D. in English and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. in English and History from the University of Rochester. She has taught at the University of Rochester, University of Pittsburgh and St. John Fisher College.

Related Articles:

Celebration of Education Awards

Meet the New Assistant Dean for Educational Initiatives

New Art, Conflict and Technology Course Travels to Northern Ireland

By: Amanda King and Piper Staff