Carnegie Mellon University
November 21, 2023

Candace Skibba Named Dean's Innovation Scholar

By Stefanie Johndrow

Stefanie Johndrow
  • Deitrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Assistant Director of Public Relations
  • 412-268-1788

The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences has named Candace Skibba, associate teaching professor of Hispanic studies, a 2023 Dean’s Innovation Scholar.

The award recognizes significant innovation in course design, teaching practice and learning outcomes assessment among teaching-track faculty in Dietrich College, as well as the promise of these faculty for ongoing creative and effective innovation. The fellowship provides two years of support, totaling $20,000, for curriculum development, course delivery and learning outcomes assessment.

Skibba’s work as a Dean’s Innovation Scholar seeks to understand student perceptions of inclusivity and anti-racism in their classes. The initial goals of this project involve corpus analysis of syllabi, creation of a taxonomy of terms and bibliographical inquiry carried out by Skibba along with the student researchers in the RadLab. The students will then use this information to create surveys and interview questions in order to invite peer-to-peer inquiry, all in an attempt to assess effectiveness. Skibba will work with students and educators to then suggest best pedagogical practices and ideas for methodologies.

Skibba joined Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Modern Languages in 2006. She specializes in contemporary Spanish literature and film, and her research focuses on the intersection of literary and film studies and studies of the body, including gender analysis, dis/ability studies and health humanities. The convergence of her literary and cultural studies interests and pedagogical foci have led her to investigate agency and empathy in both artistic expression and classroom practices.

“Candace is a talented educator dedicated to anti-racist, trauma-informed and inclusive pedagogies,” said Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College. “Her work as a Dean’s Innovation Scholar will not only improve the effectiveness of teaching practices in modern languages courses, but also will generate recommendations for how we improve diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging across CMU.”

In 2018, with two of her colleagues, Skibba co-created an interdisciplinary course on gender-based violence as part of the Grand Challenge Seminars for first-year Dietrich College students. From this experience, Skibba became more aware of the need to shift pedagogy when working with sensitive topics and the necessity of a wellness perspective when planning classes, assessments and simple interactions in addition to the understanding of different levels of engagement with students when teaching sensitive subject matter.

Other courses she has taught include “Panoramic Bodies,” “Medical Texts” and “Death, Dope, Drag and Doctors in 20th and 21st Century Spanish Films.”

More recently Skibba edited “Trauma-Informed Pedagogy,” which describes how educators and mentors can address trauma through their work with greater care and understanding. She also created a podcast “Pandemic Pedagogy,” which was geared toward individuals who engaged in teaching in any capacity who struggled to adapt to hybrid or virtual learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.