The most important take-away from this semester for me, as a second-year faculty member, was the reminder that, in the midst of busy teaching lives, we need to stay connected to collegial spaces for intellectual exchange and debate. The “Tech, Self, and Society” seminar served as such a space—a place to regenerate. Seeing the way people across departments approached discussions about complex legal, social, and biological issues was informative and motivating. Moreover, to get glimpses of the way our conversations were impacting each of our courses as the semester unfolded gave me a better understanding of the cultures of different departments and the possible experiences my students might be having in courses across the college. One highlight of the seminar was collaborating with Priscilla Stadler (CTL), Vera Albrecht (Humanities), and two LaGuardia theatre majors, Genoveva and Carolina, on our presentation about avatars. Getting caught up in imagining and creating that presentation for a few weeks, and rehearsing and revising a script Carolina and Genoveva could use as they performed the role of the avatar “AnnLee,” helped us to experience more immediately the questions of presence and witnessing we were engaged with theoretically; the whole creative process was very rewarding! I think the theatre students were also intrigued and impressed during their visit to the TSS seminar by how engaged faculty members were with their performance and with the subject matter.
This seminar helped to remind me that, for LaGuardia’s student population in particular, it’s important to understand the way technological innovations may influence social relationships, societal hierarchies, and power dynamics within a society. Prior to joining the seminar, I was skeptical about whether I wanted to dive into reading and teaching science fiction in my English courses. Though I often teach expository writing courses with a technology-centered theme, I have not read works of science fiction with my students, nor read much of it on my own. I realized through our conversations in TSS this semester the deep importance of including more readings that will expose my students and I to narratives about future humans, governments, social norms, and power struggles.