Speakers connect MOI common reading to real world

Members of the Class of 2019 attended a series of four speakers during their common time on Monday, Sept. 21, that addressed how the MOI reading material, “Blindspot,” could be applied to the subjects of history, neuroscience, sociology and politics.

Traditionally an outside speaker is invited for this event (the 2014 event featured Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith, the previous year’s text). However, Dr. Kate McCarthy-Gilmore and the First Year Experience Committee thought it to be best to “focus on the interdisciplinary piece and the liberal arts piece and really connect it to that part of MOI, to the college experience.”

“We wanted people (speakers) from a variety of disciplines but that would be interconnected in their ways to look at the implicit bias,” said McCarthy-Gilmore, “I think it gave us a lot of different lenses for which to look at this text.”

The four speakers offered diverse insights into the relation between the implicit bias and their respective fields of study. Dr. Kristin Anderson-Bricker opened the event with the parallels between her field of history and “Blindspot” lens for reform.

MOI Speaker Droeske
Dr. Michael Jarcho, professor of neuroscience, explains how different parts of the brain work when making decisions, as discussed in the common MOI reading of “Blindspot.” Photo by Natalie Droeske

Dr. Michael Jarcho of the neuroscience department showed that “mindbugs can be genetic in nature” with his presentation on a study concerning twins and their biases at the age of 9. He also stated that “conscious intervention can result in subconscious change.”

Dr. Kate Parks emphasized the stereotyping section of “Blindspot” that specifically dealt with the brain separating things into categories). She bridged this into her field of sociology in terms of the tendency that stereotypes generally benefit the dominant group.

Dr. David Cochran then exemplified “Blindspot’s” theory of reflective thinking vs. automatic thinking in politics; people’s voting tendencies reflect implicit biases. He stressed that things like colors, symbols, slogans, songs and even accessories have the potential to sway one way or another.

By providing these insights into classes and fields other than MOI, students were exposed to implicit biases in the world that surrounds an average Duhawk.

“I wanted students to take connections out of their larger college experience,” said McCarthy-Gilmore. “I think they could then be sitting in a psychology class or a Spanish class and look at how the way some of the things they’re learning or talking about relate to these ideas of biases. Maybe the next time they’re thinking about political candidates, they’ll think a little bit differently about that.”

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