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Carleton’s Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) David J. Hornsby co-wrote “Towards a Pandemic Pedagogy: power and politics in learning and teaching” with Heather A. Smith at the University of Northern British Columbia. Here, Dr. Hornsby shares what pandemic pedagogy means, as well as its implications for higher education and society.

Written by David J. Hornsby

Teaching and learning in universities is one of the most impactful things that higher education offers to society. Just think about it: our degree programs and classrooms are spaces where thousands of students come annually to learn about disciplines, from each other, and to apply their knowledge and understandings in creative and interesting ways. The scope of possibility for meaningful societal change through teaching and learning is enormous.

But what happens when the fundamental foundation of a teaching and learning environment is turned on its head?

This is the question my friend and colleague — Heather A. Smith at the University of Northern British Columbia — and I explored in a recent set of discussions. Indeed, we have long had the type of professional relationship where we call each other up and discuss any crazy idea we have in our head. It is a dynamic that is creative, productive, exploratory, imbued with a deep passion for the possibilities for university teaching and holds a strong thread of fun. 

The piece linked here explores what pedagogy means in a time of pandemic. Pandemic pedagogy speaks to the approaches we employ in our learning environments to teach and foster learning in a context of a serious health crisis and the spread of a new disease. Health crises are nothing new. But this moment feels and is different. The response has been unprecedented and global, resulting in the cessation of normal social, political and economic activity in the name of preventing the spread of COVID-19. As we all engage in social distancing and the closure of our campuses, we must ask, what does the present pandemic mean for a core mission of universities: teaching and learning?

As two political scientists, we are part of a discipline that regularly prides itself on unpacking the nuanced intersections between power and politics. As two university professors, we want to reflect on the relationship that exists between power, pedagogy and politics.  We must be mindful of the values we are instilling through our teaching and how we will come out of this pandemic. We remain hopeful that we can get through this moment by being more collaborative and adopt a pandemic pedagogy that is inclusive, innovative, and based on care.

Read the full article

About the authors

Professor, Department of International Studies
University of Northern British Columbia

Learn more about Dr. Heather A. Smith.

Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning),
Carleton University

Learn more about Dr. David J. Hornsby.

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