1650 Views
  1. Suzanna Rose
  2. Associate Provost
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Florida International University
  1. Sanaz Farhangi
  2. Research Assistant Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Florida International University
  1. Ashley Garcia
  2. Account Manager
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Florida International University
  1. Caroline Simpson
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Florida International University
  1. Kirsten Wood
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Florida International University

FIU ADVANCE

NSF Awards: 1629889

2020 (see original presentation & discussion)

Adult learners

AWED Theater is a sustainable, interactive, educational theater program offered by FIU ADVANCE aimed at addressing gender and race bias in STEM fields in order to facilitate a more inclusive climate. Plays are enacted by professional actors and post-dialogue discussions, led by an experienced faculty developer, are structured within a highly interactive curriculum.

AWED Theater supports FIU ADVANCE’s unique and impactful approach to leadership education, departmental climate change, and bias interventions through the development and presentation of research-based interactive theater. This theater program has been incorporated into the Bystander Leadership Program, which is aimed at engaging faculty in discussions to enhance knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors about issues related to diversity and inclusion with the goal of promoting a fair and equitable workplace.

AWED Theater has presented at universities and professional organizations across the country, such as the American Society for Engineering Education, Oregon State University, Florida State University, and West Virginia University. If you’re interested in having an AWED Theater presentation at your institution, please visit go.fiu.edu/awedtheater.

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Original Discussion from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Suzanna Rose

    Suzanna Rose

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Provost
    May 4, 2020 | 04:53 p.m.

    Dear Colleagues:

    Thank you for taking the time to watch our video!

    AWED Theater supports FIU ADVANCE’s unique and impactful approach to leadership education, departmental climate change, and bias interventions through its interactive theater performances. AWED Theater has been integrated into FIU's Bystander Leadership Program, our evidence-based behavioral bystander intervention program for STEM faculty. Additionally, AWED Theater has presented at organizations and schools across the country.

    AWED Theater performances address questions such as: What gender and race biases influence student-faculty interactions? What biases frequently drive faculty decisions about who is eligible to receive tenure? How can such dynamics be addressed or mitigated?

    Our research team is interested in your feedback. Does this theater program seem like something that would be of value at your institution to facilitate equity and inclusion? What topics would be of interest to you and your faculty?

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,

    Suzanna Rose

    Florida International University

     

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Isabel Huff
  • Icon for: Patti Curtis

    Patti Curtis

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 02:55 p.m.

    Wow - super powerful, thought provoking methodology to spurring hard discussions.  I want to watch more, full length presentations.  Are these available?  What fees are associated with these presentations?  Can they be easily replicated?  You should create a YouTube channel and have others contribute.  Or can you share the scripts?  Who typically writes the scripts?  How do you know you have a balanced approach?  Do these always result in resolution or can it create more tension now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak? This is truly a STEAM project!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Isabel Huff
  • Icon for: Jeffrey Steiger

    Jeffrey Steiger

    May 8, 2020 | 05:27 p.m.

    Hello Patti,

    Thanks for your questions. We charge actor salaries and administration fees plus expenses. We do everything we can to keep costs down to stay affordable. We don't share scripts since there are many other elements that aren't on the scripted page: training actors, workshops structure, nuances of facilitation, etc. The scripts are written by myself through an in-depth interview process and gate-checking preview development involving the AWED team and faculty input. We avoid video since we have found the live theater interaction to be most impactful. In regards to your last question, we have found that interactive theater can sidestep the usual defense mechanisms by putting the onus of naming and learning on attendees and off of the presenters. For example, we typically shift the sketch casting at the end of a workshop and ask an audience if anything would have changed for them were "this" actor/actress in "that" role (e.g. "bully" character). Actors literally, physically change chairs and say a few lines. Attendees gain a better understanding of the ways that gender, race, etc, may have been modulating their experience and perceptions throughout the workshop and without setting us up for accusations or any unproductive tension. People name their own bias. I hope these brief thoughts help but please feel free to contact me for more discussion.

    Best,

    Jeffrey

    Jeffreyallensteiger@gmail.com 

  • Icon for: Chelsea Carnes

    Chelsea Carnes

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 03:02 p.m.

    Fantastic creative project and a great way to open dialogue about these important and sometimes difficult to name issues! Do you tour? I work for the Office of Access & Inclusion at Santa Fe College in north central Florida and would love to make this performance/workshop/facilitated discussion available for our faculty and staff. We have been discussing professional development for employees who participate in hiring committees and this would be a great workshop for that purpose.

  • Small default profile

    Jeffrey Steiger

    May 8, 2020 | 03:20 p.m.

    Hello Chelsea, 

    I'd be happy to speak with you to learn more about your goals and walk you through our hiring committee scenario and session curriculum. In our theater sketch and workshop, THE PROCESS, professional actors portray an academic search in reverse - from the third-year review to the day the committee is formed - allowing attendees to experience, identify, and examine multiple levels of a search process and the ways that bias can impact evaluation.

  • Icon for: Suzanna Rose

    Suzanna Rose

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Provost
    May 5, 2020 | 03:22 p.m.

    Dear Chelsea:

    Thanks for your interest! Yes, AWED Theater does tour! Jeffrey, the creative director, is available to do bookings for the next academic year. Please feel free to contact him directly at 202.699.1064 or jeffreyallensteiger@gmail.com. Go to go.fiu.edu/AWEDtheater for more information about specific plays. He has already taken the theater to a number of other universities and performed for national STEM organizations like the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The experience is fun for all! 

    Best,

    Suzanna

  • Icon for: Travis York

    Travis York

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:19 p.m.

    Hi Suzanna,

    What an exciting project!  It is so exciting to see the use of this intersectional research within practice for faculty professional development!  And exciting to have this work coming out of FIU - who is both an APLU member and one of Aspire's Institutional Change Network members (FIU was just selected last October to join the network - https://stemforall2020.videohall.com/presentations/1897). 

    I wonder if there is an opportunity for us to consider a collaboration with AWED to (1) consider a virtual connection for our upcoming Aspire Summit, or (2) to consider the work that Aspire's National Change initiative does in providing professional development on inclusive Faculty practices?  

  • Icon for: Suzanna Rose

    Suzanna Rose

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Provost
    May 9, 2020 | 10:14 a.m.

    May 5, 2020 | 04:37 p.m.

    Hi Travis: (I sent this a few days ago but did not do it correctly to post to you! Let's be in touch.) 

    Yes, thanks for mentioning APLU and Aspire! We would be very happy to be involved in the Aspire Summit and to collaborate on spreading the word about inclusive faculty practices. Most of our programming focuses on faculty-to-faculty interactions but we have been experimenting also with faculty-student interactions. We did a lot of discovery to develop the scenarios, i.e. conducted interviews and focus groups to identify real-life situations, especially those with a gender x race intersection. We have a specific interest in working with international faculty, of which FIU has a large number. ADVANCE programs have not usually focused on how to influence the attitudes of international faculty that may have nationality-based gender and race biases or that may not value or fully understand U.S. concerns about inclusion and equity. 

    Let's be in touch!

    Suzanna

  • Icon for: Suzanna Rose

    Suzanna Rose

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Provost
    May 5, 2020 | 03:38 p.m.

    Dear Patti:

    Thanks for your comments! Jeffrey is the playwright --he does a great job; he has years of script-writing and directing experience and also is terrific at acting the role of a stereotypical STEM faculty curmudgeon. The cost depends on the number of performances, etc. so feel free to contact him (see my previous post). Right now, this is the extent of what we have on video. But it is the live performance that really gets people engaged. We have had about 400 faculty attend our Bystander Leadership Workshop and the attendees especially enjoy the AWED theater part. It is a very entertaining and reassuring way to get the unlikeliest people to consider their own role in some problematic scenarios. The facilitated discussion definitely engages participants--it provides a safe environment and actually reduces tensions. Again, thanks for writing! 

    Best,

    Suzanna

  • Icon for: Marjorie Bequette

    Marjorie Bequette

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:29 p.m.

    Such an interesting approach; I've seen theater used in many ways to prompt discussion about hard topics before, but never with higher ed faculty.

    I'm always curious about what you're looking for AFTER the experience -- what are the indicators of success that you care about most? Changes on faculty evaluations, grades, patterns of enrollment, or stories about changed culture?

  • Icon for: Kirsten Wood

    Kirsten Wood

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 04:34 p.m.

    Hi Marjorie, thanks for your question.  Our Bystander training is aimed at faculty's treatment of faculty, and we are collecting both quantitative and qualitative data about the impact of the training over time.  Anecdotally, we are seeing that in departments with a significant number of faculty who have completed the training, people are anticipating problems and acting to reduce the risk of biased behavior in advance.  The preliminary analysis of our quant data also suggests that people are more likely to notice and intervene in moments of bias in their departments.

  • Icon for: Marjorie Bequette

    Marjorie Bequette

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:43 p.m.

    Thanks, Kirsten. It's interesting to look across the various projects focused on higher ed faculty and consider how sharing research approaches might be productive. 

    (Also, are you the Kirsten Wood who is Karin's sister? Your photo looks just like her. If so, hi from Marjorie Bullitt way back when!)

  • Icon for: Kirsten Wood

    Kirsten Wood

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 04:46 p.m.

    Good grief, yes!  Small world.  Nice to "see" you.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Marjorie Bequette
  • Small default profile

    Cortney McEniry

    May 7, 2020 | 10:17 a.m.

    This is really lovely work, thank you for sharing! I am at the University of Virginia as the artistic director of a new program called UVA Acts. We focus on similar issues and are also employing  storytelling and performance to be in dialogue with our faculty. I would love to be in touch and hear more about what you're learning. Thanks again for sharing!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jeffrey Steiger
  • Small default profile

    Tiana Solis

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 7, 2020 | 01:31 p.m.

    This is powerful, thank you!

  • Icon for: Jameela Jafri

    Jameela Jafri

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 04:58 p.m.

    This is fascinating! I really appreciate the use of theatre and role-play to model the embodied experiences of underrepresented populations in the sciences. It seems that the project is drawing a lot on storytelling and empathy. Can you share a little about how the conversations after watching the production are facilitated? What are some best practices and lessons learned?

  • Icon for: Kirsten Wood

    Kirsten Wood

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 05:12 p.m.

    Hi Jameela, and thanks for your questions.

    Although AWED Theatre has its own life, we also incorporate it into our day-long bystander intervention workshop for faculty, one of our signature ADVANCE activities at FIU.  The professional theater portion takes place during the morning of our workshop.  Jeffrey Steiger facilitates a conversation that seeks to get participants to think about their own experiences as would-be interveners who have felt inhibited by a variety of factors from fear for their jobs/safety to confusion about what really happened and whether it was serious. 

    We use a variety of other activities throughout the day to help faculty take others' perspectives and to practice their own interventions in case studies and sketches adapted from real experiences at our university.

    One experience that has been formative for many of our participants is realizing that they have seen versions of what we depict in their own departments, that this is not just hypothetical or invented.  Sometimes that realization comes only after denying that any such nonsense happens in their own circles, and hearing their denials refuted by a roomful of colleagues, not just from the presenters at the front of the room.

     

  • Icon for: Nick Lux

    Nick Lux

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 8, 2020 | 10:32 a.m.

    The use of real actors really brings to life the issues around gender and race biases. Will your research explore how this kind of intervention works any differently than more traditional approaches, such as when faculty role-play around these same issues with their own colleagues? In other words, when engaging in gender and race bias professional development, does the use of real actors could provide a more impactful experience for the learner?

  • Icon for: Suzanna Rose

    Suzanna Rose

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Provost
    May 9, 2020 | 10:26 a.m.

    Hello Nick:

    Thanks for your note. We have not tried to compare the effectiveness of the theater to that of faculty role-plays. Both are part of our one-day Bystander workshop. The advantage of the theater component at the beginning of the workshop is that it is a great way to introduce faculty to the issues. It is then less intimidating for them to engage in role-play themselves. We also have used the theater program as a free-standing program over the past ten years to raise issues about gender and race bias/inclusion. Even those that attended many years ago still talk about the plays. Based on that, we think the theater is a highly effective way to open the conversation about these issues, especially under the authorship and direction of Jeffrey Steiger. 

     

  • Icon for: Jeffrey Steiger

    Jeffrey Steiger

    May 11, 2020 | 09:52 a.m.

    Hello Nick,

    Thanks for your question. As Suzanna wrote, we aren't currently exploring that exact question at FIU, but I do have a few anecdotal thoughts.

    When I was artistic director of the CRLT Players, I'd present, annually, a "breaking bad news" play to the entire third-year medical student class at the University of Michigan. Following the interactive play, each actor would work with small clusters of students in breakout rooms on one-on-one scenarios so students could practice delivering difficult news to patients. Evaluation data suggested that the use of professional actors in the role-play exercises increased the realism of the depicted scenarios as compared to usual student-based role-playing. Because the actors were strangers to the group, their presence, as well as the unpredictability of their responses, pushed the students out of their own “comfort zones” in ways that more closely approximated actual clinical situations. Although this example involves role-play and not theater per se, I think it highlights the special tension that committed actors can create in learning spaces. I'm thinking about Piaget’s “cognitive disequilibrium,” Dewey’s “forked road situations,” and Mezirow’s “disquieting dilemmas”: when confronted by new and unfamiliar perspectives, identities, experiences, and ideas, one is forced to reflect on one’s own values, attitudes, and assumptions, thereby broadening one’s own worldview.

    In regards to the specific use of theater: written and rehearsed scenarios allow us to move beyond one-on-one exchanges and depict a complex environment and climate. We are able to present an extended piece that highlights the implicit and explicit norms that make up a department - a sum of its parts instead of just small communications. Unlike role-play, the audience assumes that there is a deliberate core to the fictional department and they are more ready to disagree with one another's interpretations of the scenes. Some regard the climate in the hypothetical department as toxic and sexist, while others may assert that the female faculty member simply needs to be more aggressive

    My thoughts are more anecdotal, but I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on your great question! I hope my musings are helpful.

  • Icon for: Brett Jones

    Brett Jones

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 9, 2020 | 07:58 a.m.

    I like how the characters bring to life the issues and it seems that some of them play out the thoughts going on inside a person's head (like angel vs. devil). I can see how this would be effective.

  • Icon for: Jeffrey Steiger

    Jeffrey Steiger

    May 9, 2020 | 08:34 a.m.

    Hello Brett, 

    I'm glad you noticed that. Yes - in one of our pieces, "THE JOKE", a Greek Chorus battles it out in the head of a junior faculty character. I cellist accompanies the sketch, playing the musical motif of each dynamic. That particular scenario uses humor, music, and stylized theater to bring out the internal resistance to action we may experience when witnessing a problematic moment, comment, or situation. 

  • May 12, 2020 | 11:07 a.m.

    What a wonderful initiative! As someone who works in STEM education, has a lot of background in the arts, and cares deeply about social justice issues, I love to see how creative approaches like this can push us to be more mindful of our biases and more inclusive in STEM. Thank you!

  • Icon for: Lisa Flores

    Lisa Flores

    Researcher
    May 12, 2020 | 02:14 p.m.

    This is a very cool way to engage faculty in these topics and in the research findings. Are you collecting data on the outcomes that this produces among faculty?  

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