As the Fall 2020 semester approaches, Northeastern Illinois University has announced that face-to-face classes will be held to a minimum to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. Courses for the fall semester will be offered in remote, online, hybrid, and, in some instances, face-to-face formats with appropriate safety precautions.

These decisions are made in accordance with federal, state, and local guidelines, as well as new guidance released by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

A Pandemic Doesn’t Stop our Mission: The College of Arts and Sciences Continues its Strong Tradition of Teaching, Learning, and Research into Fall 2020

While the pandemic has posed some unprecedented challenges to the College of Arts and Sciences’ mission of providing access and excellence in educating our students, the College’s many departments and faculty adapted quickly last Spring to rapidly changing circumstances, converting classes to remote and online formats and helping to guide students through inevitable difficulties, remaining committed to our students.

Enjoying robust summer enrollments, the College looks forward to the Fall 2020 semester as our faculty continue to innovate and transform their teaching to cultivate vibrant online and remote classrooms to provide students with engaged learning opportunities and to configure the limited number of face-to-face classes, such as studios and labs, to optimize both safety and learning.

To date, as the Fall 2020 semester approaches, Northeastern Illinois University has announced that face-to-face classes will be held to minimum, offered when lab and studio activities are deemed essential, to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. Courses for the Fall semester will be offered in remote, online, hybrid and, in some instances, face-to-face formats with appropriate safety precautions. For more information on the fall return, please read our Coronavirus Response.

These decisions are made in accordance with federal, state and local guidelines, as well as new guidance released by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

College of Arts and Sciences faculty, students, and alumni teach, research, and write in response to the pandemic

Physics Professor involves students in studying, problem-solving COVID-19

Given how the COVID-19 changed our routine for the foreseeable future, many faculty have taken this as an opportunity for teachable moments. Physics Professor Paulo Acioli used the opportunity to introduce the study of viral diffusion in his course PHYS 309 - Computational Analysis for Scientists taught in Spring 2020. The final project for the class was to model the spread of the virus using a diffusion equation that is used in many areas of science.

Acioli also submitted a manuscript to the American Journal of Physics describing how this model can be used in the classroom and how it can explain the differences in the number of cases and the growth of the spread in the cities of Chicago and New York City. The manuscript was recently accepted. Read more information about this model and an early preprint.

Spanish students build website as resource for Latina/x Feminisms

The pandemic didn’t stop Spanish Professor Sarah West from developing engaged learning opportunities for her students in WLC/LLAS/WGS 340: Latina/x Feminisms and Social Media.

For their final project, students in the class collectively created a Femmipedia, or wiki-style electronic resource that resists the male-centric "objective" lens, holding space for knowledge and storytelling. The website provides insight on the nexus of Latina/x Feminist thought, Online Activism, and the lived experience of the students of Northeastern Illinois University. 

The website compiles the final projects of the courses WLC/LLAS/WGS 340: Latina/x Feminisms & Social Media. Each page was created and curated by a student in the class. Students were asked to perform discourse analyses on popular Instagram activists accounts identifying as Latina/x-curated. Each page presents their answers to the research questions on the right. They were also asked to interweave their own lived experiences into their page, as they relate to the feminist perspectives from this class. 

English Department faculty, students and alumni publish series analyzing pandemics in literature, creates Fall 2020 discussion course open to students and community

Throughout this summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty, students, and alumni of the English Department at NEIU have been engaged in analyzing how pandemics are represented in literature across centuries, across genres, and across nation-states, producing a series of articles published in the online journal PopMatters.com. The series, edited by Professor Ryan Poll, begins historically with Boccaccio, and wends its way through Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Poe, before opening up to consider how diverse authors represent and wrestle with the crises of pandemics, including Indigenous authors, African American authors, Latinx authors, Asian American authors, working-class and queer authors.

The series takes up multiple issues in seeking to understand the impact of pandemics on the human condition. How, for example, does Octavia E. Butler's "Parable of the Sower" narrate neo-slavery through the prism of a pandemic? How does Romeo and Juliet become a different text once read through the prism of the "Plague Orders" of Elizabethan England? How do contemporary Indigenous authors make explicit that pandemics are not irruptions into the norm, but rather, should be understood as the norm of colonial capitalism?

The series has been a journey through the canonical and radical as it looks to literary representations of pandemics in the past to help us understand the politics and possibilities of the present. Check out the PopMatters series.

This series is the basis of a newly-created course, ENGL 301A: Literature of the Pandemic, a one-credit hour credit hour that will meet Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 24 through Dec. 6. There will be no formal papers or tests. The point of the class is to provide guidance through literary study for processing, understanding and responding to our contemporary situation. The class is open to students and also through the English Institute, to community members. Contact English Department Chair Tim Scherman at t-scherman@neiu.edu with questions.

Biology Department holds Student Research Symposium

In May, the Biology Department hosted a Virtual Student Research Symposium, providing students an opportunity to present the results of research projects conducted during the academic year. Twelve undergraduate and two graduate students recorded presentations viewed by students and faculty from throughout the department. The research projects, mentored by eight different faculty, included topics as diverse as genetics, ecology, biochemistry, and science education.

Four students received Best Presentation Awards:

  • Vada Becker, mentored by Dr. Elyse Bolterstein, received a Best Oral Presentation award for “Determining the function of the Drosophila melanogaster gene, mus109.”
  • Melissa Carillo, mentored by Dr. Emina Stojkovic, received a Best Oral Presentation award for “Development of myxobacterial phytochrome as a model system for X-ray Free Electron Lasers (XFELs).”
  • Victoria Puccini de Castro, mentored by Drs. Cindy Voisine and Michael Stern, received a Best Poster Presentation Award for “A genetic screen to identify new FGFR signaling components.”
  • Astrid Vargas, mentored by Dr. Sue Mungre, received a Best Poster Presentation award for “Determination of antibacterial activity in human breast milk.”

Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, in fact, our STEM faculty have continue to engage our students in research communities, even when convening remotely. Check out this screen shot of a recent workshop involving summer research students from the Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE), directed by Professor Kenneth Vogelsonger.

College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) faculty continue to innovate to teach and engage students heading into Fall 2020

While most of our classes will be taught remotely to ensure the safety of our students, the CAS faculty remain committed to finding innovative ways to teach the content about which they are so passionate.

Here a just a couple of examples:

  • An exciting new course will be taught by Dr. Reinke in Fall 2020! In Local Fauna (BIO 325), you will study the major animal groups living in the Chicago area. The course will primarily occur virtually, but will also have some fun and safe field activities outdoors. Learn more in this video from Dr. Reinke.
  • And the Department of Communication, Media, and Theatre (CMT) has designed exciting classrooms for Fall 2020. Check out this playlist to get a sampling of their offerings and continue to check in on CMT happenings on their department YouTube channel.

Shawanda Buck

Shawanda Buck Awarded the J. Njogu Karuru and Eben C. Morgan Scholarship

Created by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Emerita Dr. Wamucii Njogu, this scholarship is designed to assist students who have persevered against great odds and obstacles in pursuit of their college degrees.

Shawanda Buck, exemplifying this persistence, earned this year’s award. Read her story here.