New Normal: GWS Teaching Statement

New and returning students have been inundated with messages about the “new normal” at UK, talk of face-to-face instruction, and using terms that students may not be familiar with, like “hybrid,” “distance learning,” “synchronous,” and “asynchronous.” It is understandable, then, if you are feeling apprehensive or confused about what it will be like to take courses this semester.   

In GWS, many of our courses will be offered fully online.  Other classes will utilize a hybrid format, meaning that in order to minimize possible exposure to COVID-19, some parts of the course will take place online.  A hybrid class may include attending a discussion or interactive session in a classroom, and also will include online learning activities such as watching films or visiting a virtual exhibit. 

For courses that are fully online, some will run asynchronously--that is, you will interact with the course content at the times that work with your own schedule, rather than logging in on specific days and times. That content may include pre-recorded lectures, small group projects, readings, virtual activities, and films or video clips. Synchronous classes may also involve similar content, but will also include a set time when the class will meet online as a group, like you would expect in a traditional classroom experience.

Regardless of the course format though, all GWS classes are being taught by experienced instructors with whom you can communicate and meet with – on the phone or online -- when you have questions or need help, just as always. Gender and Women’s Studies is built on feminist pedagogy; in other words, GWS teaching has always been interactive, challenging the “banking method” of education where students are simply passive receptacles of “facts” delivered to them by faculty. Feminist pedagogy places a heavy emphasis on discussion and values experience as a way of knowing, while also challenging students to critically engage with real-world issues that extend beyond their own lives. These core principles will not change even as we adapt to life and learning during a global pandemic, and experiment with creative ways to teach while keeping our community as safe as possible.

If you have any concerns throughout the semester about your GWS coursework, you may contact me personally ( as the Director of Undergraduate Studies and I will help any way I can. There is no denying that these are challenging times for us all, but the GWS faculty remains committed to providing quality and engaging courses for all our students.


Melissa N. Stein
Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies