Teaching the Art of Unlearning
Sociology 119, a course about race relations in the United States, is arguably the most talked about class on Penn State’s main campus. Once on the table as a possible television series, the course pushes students to learn, and “un-learn”, about topics that often go un-discussed. But behind the taboo topics is a team that has been working tirelessly to create, what they call, a “brave space”, where students are free to explore the possibility of acceptance and understanding.
Professor Sam Richards is the star of the show, with his off-the-wall comments and ideas, but what students often oversee is the man sitting behind Sam, teaching assistant Eric Morales, talking into his earpiece telling him when to pull back the reins, and when to dive deeper. Their relationship is built on a trust not often found between students and professors, and a desire to make others question everything they thought they knew about race relations.