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Hype Your Research: A Visit to Mollie McQuillan's Gender Identity Class

Modified: May 17, 2018
Dean Woodruff with class instructor, Mollie McQuillan

Earlier this month, Dean Woodruff (pictured at left) joined Mollie McQuillan, Presidential Fellow and PhD candidate in Human Development and Social Policy, to co-teach Mollie's undergraduate class as part of The Graduate School’s inaugural Hype Your Research visit.

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Mollie developed a course titled, “Gender Identity Development, Minority Stress, and Policy: An Interdisciplinary Perspective” in response to requests from undergraduate students for more classes that address issues related to gender minorities. The School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) was quick to support Mollie’s proposal, which is believed to be a first-of-its-kind course in either a policy school or a school of education. Mollie was also approved by SESP to be the primary instructor of the course, forming an innovative link between undergraduate and graduate education at Northwestern.

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For Dean Woodruff’s visit, Mollie used the topic of "access" as the central theme, building on a discussion regarding access to facilities to address access to other resources, such as healthcare and research relevant to transgender populations. The group of 21 undergrads engaged in a rousing discussion regarding what it means when someone is unable to obtain access to a safe restroom, connecting the dots to the larger socio-economic, legal, political, and psychological implications of such of restriction. Dean Woodruff then introduced her own oncofertility research, which focuses on the preservation of fertility throughout a cancer diagnosis. She remarked that “biological parenting is not a one-size-fits-all solution” and that “there are multiple ways to parent, through biological and non-biological options.” In addition, she described herself as “intellectually fluid,” and explained that her research has expanded to include discussions regarding transgender fertility preservation.

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Dean Woodruff concluded by praising this course with having the ability to bridge the gap between horizontal and vertical learning. “Horizontal learning, or more traditional knowledge learning, is at the heart of the undergraduate experience,” she explained, “while vertical learning, or building on this knowledge to ask the next question, is common in graduate education.” She complimented Mollie, graduate teaching assistant, Amalia Donovan, and the entire class for being at the intersection of these worlds as part of their Northwestern experience.

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Like Mollie, are you creating a transformative environment for learning and discovery in your seminar, lecture, colloquium, or discussion section? The Graduate School wants to know about it! Learn more about our Hype Your Research program, and submit a nomination today.

Around Campus, Social Sciences, Spotlight