This is the first in a planned series of LSA webinars on "Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Linguistics Curriculum."  Please watch LSA communications for notifications about upcoming webinars.
Centering linguistic diversity and justice in course design
  • Savithry Namboodiripad, University of Michigan
  • Nathan Sanders, University of Toronto
  • Miranda McCarvel, Smith College (Moderator)
Friday, August 14
1:00 - 2:30 PM US Eastern Time
Panelist handouts:  Savithry Namboodiripad    Nathan Sanders
Panelist Bios:

Savithry Namboodiripad is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the director of the Contact, Cognition, & Change Lab. Her research focuses on how language ideologies and use interact in multilingual contexts to shape patterns of language change, and she uses experimental methods to study contact and variation in flexible constituent order.
Nathan Sanders is Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. He works on innovations in linguistics pedagogy and on addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the linguistics classroom. Along with Jeffrey Punske and Amy Fountain, he is co-editor of  Language Invention in Linguistics Pedagogy, a recent volume (OUP, 2020) on using constructed languages as a teaching tool in linguistics. His linguistic research centres on biomechanics and perception, for both speech and sign languages. He also works on phonological theory, computational and statistical models of linguistic phenomena, language change, and linguistic typology.

In her portion of the webinar, Savithry Namboodiripad (University of Michigan) focuses on four guiding principles which have helped her (re)design courses in disciplines which have traditionally excluded minoritized languages/varieties, scholars, and approaches:

(1) Designing courses around "What should a student who never takes another linguistics class again know about language" and debunking common harmful misconceptions
(2) Centering traditionally "peripheral" topics (as opposed to setting aside a lecture or a week)
(3) Marking the unmarked by discussing how the exclusion of particular languages and communities have shaped and been shaped by our theoretical and methodological approaches
(4) Broadening the scope of readings and texts, from podcasts to popular press articles, and, especially, to linguistics being done in non-linguistics departments
She will give examples of these principles at work in an intro level undergraduate language acquisition course, giving examples of readings and assessments. Finally, Namboodiripad will discuss the importance of community-building around this work, setting up a way for interested participants to join forces as we work on our syllabi and evaluate how these changes are working throughout the term. She will also share a resource that Sonja Lanehart, Hayley Heaton, and she  have put together -- a google drive folder of syllabi, slides, videos, and assessments from our colleagues who have been teaching about language & discrimination. 

Nathan Sanders (University of Toronto) will describe some specific kinds of language-based biases that can arise in the linguistics classroom as well as methods and materials that have been developed as part of a larger project at the University of Toronto to address these biases, including lecture content, problems sets, teaching workshops, and databases.