Grand Challenge First-Year Seminar Student Experiences - Reducing Conflict: Perceptions of Culture and Identity
Course Number: 66-139
Learning to reduce conflict requires an understanding of cultures and identities, and why and how society builds barriers between and among us. In this interdisciplinary course, students learned how to talk to each other and strangers about identity: its defining characteristics and how our bias influences our judgments, before even getting to know one another.
In Project 1, students developed and implemented an interview protocol to understand how to set aside our personal biases and judgments, and listen openly and honestly. After reviewing the elements of semi-structured qualitative interviews, students wrote questions, practiced interviewing, assessed those interviews, improved their questions, and then conducted ‘real’ interviews with campus peers in order to assess aspects of the climate of inclusivity on campus. Through the development of codes based on themes related to belonging, culture, and identity broadly, students had access to 28 sets of data.
In Project 2, the website links for which are below, teams read one of eight Young Adult novels that address difficult questions of identity, isolation, bias, and rejection. These novels, written by individuals who experienced questions of identity and isolation, in addition to bias and rejection from others, served as a starting point for discussion and deep thinking about our course themes. Students were asked to pair humanities methods (such as close-reading) to analyze their novels and to make connections to the interview data gathered in Project 1. Students were tasked with developing a website that would highlight inclusive successes and challenges on the CMU campus. In addition, each student on the team chose to represent either the social sciences, the humanities, or data to compile a cohesive ‘picture’ of themes pertaining to feelings of belonging on our campus to guide the CMU community toward deeper understanding and acceptance practices.
We hope you enjoy the creativity and research that the students are presenting on their websites.
by Arrim Jung, Grace Lee, Cassandra Shi linked to Flawed by Ceclia Ahern, 2017
by Parth Harish, Angelina Ohlinger, Sofia Reyes Franco linked to This Impossible Light by Lily Myers, 2017
by Ben Abel, Karishma Kulshrestha, Mingxi Yan linked to The Words in My Hands by Asphyxia, 2021
by Jordan Bain, Tyler Coombs, Natalie Koch linked to Birthday by Meredith Russo, 2020
by Eshar Hans, Lucas Lin, Ryan Song linked to Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes, 2020
by Brad Ji, Emma Tong, Rocky Zhou linked to I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver, 2020
by Hailey Cohen, Ken Kang, Brand Leng, Sarah Wu linked to Internment by Samira Ahmed, 2020
by Mira Devgan, Julia Liu, Kareem Segizekov, Wesley Zhou linked to This Impossible Light by Lily Myers, 2017
by Lindsay Li, Nathaniel Scanlon, Hannah Wyatt linked to Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson, 2022