PANEL/ROUNDTABLE: Teaching Sensitive Topics Virtually: Challenges and Success from Social Justice Educators


  • David Corwin
  • LaShonda Anthony
  • Cameron Shaw
  • Ayondela McDole



In virtual teaching, there are still times where we are discussing a multitude of tough issues that need more socially just pedagogies. Some of these issues are gender based violence, LGBTQ issues, diversity and inclusion conversations, racialized trauma, pandemic anxieties and loss, and healing from national politics. Particularly during a pandemic and an election year, these issues surfaced arguably in most classrooms, but addressing them virtually can and did seem like an impossible task. This panel will discuss our own strategies in classes where we have addressed these issues. While we are all Women and Gender Studies and African and African American Studies faculty, we have taught Mason Core courses and hope to transfer some of these strategies to folks in other disciplines.

Some strategies that we will discuss are more proactive measures, aimed at building virtual course communities in which shared knowledge and growth are promoted and lived experiences are respected. Providing students with a theoretical frame or alternative lens for approaching these difficult conversations is one key strategy that we will expand on in our session. Other strategies we will discuss are more reactive in nature, as we navigate U.S. social contexts or respond to moments of difficulty within our own courses.

During this session, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and chat with three faculty members who regularly teach the topics mentioned above. We will incorporate scholarship in feminist pedagogies that focuses on online teaching and mentoring, which while new has existed prior to the pandemic and continues to be published.

After this session, participants will takeaway:

Key strategies for discussing sensitive topics related to race, gender, and sexuality
Resources for assignment design when asking students to research and write about these topics

Author Biographies

David Corwin

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

LaShonda Anthony

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Cameron Shaw

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ayondela McDole

College of Humanities and Social Sciences





2021 FRIDAY 12:00pm-12:45pm