8th annual GV Teach-In goes virtual


Courtesy / GVSU

Jacob DeWeerd, Staff Reporter

Grand Valley State University’s Teach-In, which has been held annually for the last eight years, shifted to an online format through Whova and Zoom for the first time this year. While the in-person meetings were scrapped, the engagement, vital information, and broad topic variety of the Teach-In were all just as present as they have been in years past.

Each yearly Teach-In covers a wide range of topics that cover social issues and other timely matters, and most presentations have a few presenters providing unique viewpoints and specialized examples for each topic. Presenters are typically a mix of faculty, staff, and graduate students. Some of this year’s presentations were focused on things like the Namibian genocide, consent education, cultural competence in healthcare, and white privilege.

Brittany Bahl, a graduate student who presented ‘Thinking Critically about Racism in the U.S: Strategies for Justice and Equity’ with Professors Anthony Spencer and Corey Anton, was impressed by the scope of topics and what students could learn from attending the Teach-In.

“There’s just so much information that you can get,” Bahl said. “The variety and specification of some of the topics and the conversations surrounding each topic are so important to our society.”

It is common for professors to suggest or even require their students to attend the Teach-In every year, which is a great learning opportunity for students who may not have attended on their own power. The event runs all day (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) so students with any schedule can make it to at least part of a presentation. Unlike years past, students could leave and join multiple events per time slot thanks to the online format.

Spencer is in his first year teaching Communication Studies at GVSU. For Spencer’s first experience with the Teach-In, he said he loved the event’s networking and communication potential and was grateful for the experience of meeting new students.

“It was a great event to meet new people and get connected with people I never would have been acquainted with otherwise,” Spencer said. “I’m really glad I got to participate.”

What makes the Teach-In unique and much more valuable than a typical presentation is an emphasis on the contribution of the audience. Presenters always leave time at the end of a presentation for questions and other input from anyone who wants to speak up. Since the audiences are made up of students, staff, and faculty, the likelihood of intriguing, diverse interaction is very high.

According to the Teach-In’s website, “A teach-in is practical, participatory and action-oriented. We especially encourage contributions with an intersectional framework (race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability).”

For students looking to gain a new perspective on important, timely issues, or seeking more information on any topic that catches their attention, the Teach-In is an excellent, educational experience that’s now more accessible than ever. It’s also an opportunity unique to GVSU that students can utilize to share their voices with a passionate, engaged audience. More information about the Teach-In is available here.