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Four Students Named Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows

April 13, 2016

Zachary Barnett, Nicholas Friesner, Kathryn McBride, and Benjamin Silver will teach at Wheaton College in 2016-17, through the Graduate School's partnership with the Norton, Massachusetts, college. As Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows, the doctoral students will exercise the teaching skills modeled and cultivated at Brown University while experiencing faculty life at a liberal arts college.

Through the program, advanced doctoral candidates teach a one-semester course and participate in the intellectual life of the college. The experience provides a better understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of academic life at a four-year, liberal arts college, which can differ from those at a research university such as Brown.

"Serving as a Brown-Wheaton Faculty Fellow makes for a demanding and engaging semester: Faculty Fellows work with highly motivated students, develop a new course, learn a new campus and its culture, and benefit from Wheaton faculty mentorship," says Vanessa Ryan, Associate Dean of Student Development at Brown's Graduate School. "Our Fellows report that this intensity and fullness of the experience is what makes it particularly rewarding, professionally and personally."

Barnett, a doctoral candidate in Philosophy, will teach an Epistemology class called "Unacceptable Conclusions: Arguments against Common Sense." Friesner, a Religious Studies student, will teach a course in the Fall entitled "Love in Theory and Practice." McBride, an Archaeology student, will teach a History course in the Spring: "When Cultures Collide: Conflict and Interaction at the Edges of the Ancient World." In the Fall, Silver, who is enrolled in the Health Services Research program, will teach "Introduction to Public Health: Personal Liberties vs. Societal Costs in Protecting the Health of Society."

"Brown-Wheaton Fellows contribute a number of emerging ideas and methods to the dynamic teaching and scholarship that comprises the liberal arts education we offer at Wheaton," says Shawn A. Christian, Associate Provost and Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Wheaton College. "Because they take full advantage of the opportunities to experiment and innovate, Fellows partner with our faculty to inspire students as they engage with and attempt to answer questions that matter to our changing world."

Silver sees the Faculty Fellowship as "both an opportunity to hone my teaching skills and to help a new group of students discover the field of public health."

For an upper-level graduate student, teaching your own course is a useful and practical experience, says McBride. The fellowship is a "great way to transition some of your major dissertation themes/academic interests into a course that you might not otherwise get the opportunity to teach as a junior faculty member," she adds.

Friesner was attracted to the opportunity to design and teach a course that is entirely his own and also looks forward to learning from Wheaton faculty. "Being able to participate in the faculty life of the college will be immensely helpful as I try to secure a similar position on the increasingly competitive job market," he says.

Up to four fellowships are offered each year. Doctoral students who are in their third, fourth or fifth year are eligible to apply, regardless of discipline.

"Use the resources at hand," advises Friesner, who talked to Brown and Wheaton administrators about the process before applying. "They demystify the process and can teach you quite a bit about how to position yourself."

Wheaton and the Brown Graduate School collaborated on the selection of the faculty fellows, with significant input from Wheaton academic departments. At Brown, the program is administered by the Graduate School and the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

~By Beverly Larson, with photos by Susan Ely