Faculty Highlight: Julia Kark Callander

New faculty member Dr. Julia Kark Callander (Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies), believes service learning is key to teaching.

After moving to Boone last August, Callander is already fostering the Appalachian spirit of service learning in her classroom and beyond. Over the past few years Callander has become increasingly interested in service learning. The desire to incorporate service into her teaching started while teaching at UCLA, but teaching in Watauga Residential College at Appalachian has given her the opportunity to more fully integrate service and other types of experiential learning into her instruction.

Last semester, Callander taught a freshman seminar course focused on food politics and food justice. She aimed to make the course as interdisciplinary as possible creating a curriculum that incorporated cooking, volunteer work at Hospitality House, and the reading of sociological works and poetry. Over spring break Callander was the faculty learning partner for an Alternative Spring Break Experience at Jones Valley Teaching Farm in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

“I was very drawn to the possibility of living in Western North Carolina and Watauga Residential College is a neat program that allows me to be creative in my teaching and to continue exploring new questions and new methods.”

Callander uses experiential learning to challenge students to examine the intersection between their personal, political and academic selves. She hopes to cultivate a mindful ethic of service in her classroom and with her students. Her involvement with Watauga Residential College and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies  has helped facilitate her desire to explore new ways of teaching and allows for a space where she can nurture unique relationships with students.

“It’s great to have sustained relationships with students over more than one semester. I’ve been taking the opportunity with smaller classes to slow down with things I’ve assigned and take a step back from dictating the direction the class should go. This makes students take responsibility for the class and it creates a space for student experience to play a role in their learning.”

Prior to coming to Appalachian, Callander completed her PhD in English at the University of California, Los Angeles teaching there and Occidental College. Her research interests include: intertextuality, intimacy, history of sexuality, food studies and medical humanities. Clark Maddux, director of Watauga Residential College, appreciates Callander’s strong interdisciplinary background.

“We value the diverse experience she brings to us, particularly her work on the cultural construction of embodiment and disembodiement in the early modern period, and the many connections this allows her to make in the classroom. Her broad, interdisciplinary approach permits creative and interesting connections with students.”


About Watauga Residential College
The Watauga Residential College is a specialized academic program where classes are discussion-based seminars that allow students to pursue topics of interest to them within the context of the class. This program provides an unusual opportunity for students to become engaged in learning at a deep level through class discussions and research projects. Watauga classes are interdisciplinary and this approach to learning requires students to integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines to gain a complete perspective on a topic. Learn more at https://watauga.appstate.edu/ .

About the Department of Culture, Global, Gender Studies
The Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies offers degrees in global studies, interdisciplinary studies, and gender, women’s and sexuality studies. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement in cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at https://cgg.appstate.edu.

By Johnna Reisner
March 28, 2018

Julia Kark Callander
Published: Mar 28, 2018 10:07am