Lunch with Dean Bartlett gives students a chance to use their voice

Dean Anne Bartlett will sit down on Zoom every week to give students a chance to speak on any issues.

Thursday, Oct. 29 marked the first lunch with the Dean — the first of hopefully several upcoming weekly meetings where students can sit down with Dean Anne Bartlett to speak on anything. The Ledger tuned in and conversed with the dean over email. Our conversations ranged from getting to know each other to questions regarding the future of education. 

The Ledger asked the dean about her academic history and how she fell in love with her English major; studying the middle ages and women during that time.

“I am a super nerd, and I particularly love to look at historical artifacts and things that are typically considered ephemeral and weird that people haven’t paid much attention to,” Bartlett said. “As for my interest in the Middle Ages, I realized when I took a Chaucer class … and then a medieval lit survey, that all of the representations of women that we were getting were either satirical … or reverential,” she continued.

As her studies continued and this type of representation became apparent, Bartlett wanted to question why women were conveyed in this manner. 

“When I started to ask about this I was told that medieval women were illiterate and didn’t read or write … So I started to investigate along with a brilliant cohort of medieval feminist scholars in the late twentieth century,” she said.

Following the discussion of her personal education, we then spoke briefly over Zoom about online education. So, when we followed up over email about the opportunities it presents students today, Dean Bartlett had this to say:

“I’d like to make a couple of points here: the first is that what we’re doing now on campus is still largely ‘emergency remote instruction’ rather than true online education. This distinction is not in any way meant to critique what the faculty are doing …  just to point out that true online learning takes a lot of preparation, effort, design expertise, and tech support to provide the kind of exciting and engaging learning experiences that rival the classroom experience,” she said.

She continued to touch on the potential additions online education could bring.

“That said, I am really excited about the ways that we can weave in what we’ve learned about online instruction into our face-to-face classes in the future. This could take several forms and meet several goals … once we get out of pandemic mode,” she said. “There is lots of potential to be creative and to experiment. We can be virtual 24 hours a day — not that this is necessary or even healthy — but online education can give us more flexibility and accessibility as well as technological options.”

Finally, when asked about how lunch with the dean meetings might replace those lost interactions and moments of important yet candid conversations that are missed, Bartlett explained that the aim of these meetings was exactly that.  

“In a way, I think you gave a wonderful answer to this question within the question itself — when we don’t have the opportunity to pass one another in the hallways and say ‘hey, what’s up,’ we risk feeling and getting isolated and losing our sense of community. And now, with all the fragmentation that’s going on in the world, we need to talk with and try to understand one another. There is more in the human community that draws us together than separates us.”  

Lunch with the Dean will be held Thursdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and for the time being, will be hosted by Dean Anne Bartlett. While there aren’t any concrete plans, they are open to having other deans as guests in the future as well.