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2022 Speaker Series on Teaching Critical Thinking

The 2022 QEP Speaker Series on Teaching Critical Thinking will feature renowned scholars in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM

The Week of February 14th is QEP Week! Each day during that week will feature events related to our 2022 QEP Speaker Series on Teaching Critical Thinking. We are hosting virtual talks with renowned scholars in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM fields.

Information is below. Please feel free to RSVP for and to attend any and all of these virtual events! Contact Josh Eyler, QEP Director, at if you have any questions.


Jessica Zeller, Ph.D., MFA

Associate Professor of Dance

School for Classical and Contemporary Dance

Texas Christian University

Title: "Facilitating Critical Thinking in Arts Disciplines: Pedagogies and Policy Designs"

Date and Time: Friday, February 18th, from 12:00-1:00
RSVP Link:

Bio: Dr. Zeller is an Associate Professor of Dance in the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University. An avid ungrader and aspiring pedagogic renegade, she aims to design and teach courses that center humanity, equity, and vitality in the ballet studio and the traditional classroom. Zeller’s current research brings Ballet Pedagogy into dialogue with Critical and Feminist pedagogies; her most recent work appears in the Journal of Dance Education, as well as in the anthologies Hybrid Teaching: Pedagogy, People, Politics (Hybrid Pedagogy, 2021) and (Re:)Claiming Ballet (Intellect, 2021). Her 2016 book, Shapes of American Ballet: Teachers and Training before Balanchine (Oxford University Press) unearths the teachings of several lesser-known European and Russian ballet pedagogues and situates their work in the context of American Capitalism during the early twentieth century. Zeller facilitates faculty and student workshops on Progressive pedagogies, she is on the faculty of Digital Pedagogy Lab, and she was a2019 Scholar-in-Residence at Temple University. She is currently serving as President-Elect of CORPS de Ballet International. Find her at or on Twitter @jessicazeller.



Catherine J. Denial, Ph.D.

Bright Distinguished Professor of American History

Chair, History Department

Director, The Bright Institute at Knox College

Knox College

Title: "Hands-on Humanities: Critical Thinking and Doing"

Date and Time: Tuesday, February 15th, from 12:00-1:00

RSVP Link:

Bio: Dr. Denial is the Bright Distinguished Professor of American History, Chair of the History department, and Director of the Bright Institute at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. A 2018-2021 Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Cate is the winner of the American Historical Association’s 2018 Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching award, and a former member of the Digital Public Library of America‘s Educational Advisory Board. Cate currently sits on the boards of the Western Historical Quarterly and Commonplace: A Journal of Early American Life. Cate is at work on a new book, A Pedagogy of Kindness, under contract with West Virginia University Press. Her historical research has examined the early nineteenth-century experience of pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing in Upper Midwestern Ojibwe and missionary cultures, research that grew from Cate’s previous book, Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country (2013). In summer 2018, Cate was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, PA.


Social Sciences

Esther Jordan, Ph.D.
Director, Faculty Success
Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL)
Professor of Political Science
Kennesaw State University

Title: "Developing Critical Thinkers in the Social Sciences: Tips, Tools, and Strategies"

Date and Time: Wednesday, February 16th, from 12:00-1:00
RSVP Link:

Bio: Dr. Jordan is a Professor of Political Science with the KSU School of Government and International affairs. She serves on the SGI curriculum and diversity and inclusion committees and leads its faculty writing accountability groups. Her research and writing focus on social capital, civil society, informal networks, educational development, and coaching. Dr. Jordan leads the KSU Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning's Faculty Success team, which is charged with supporting faculty and leaders in their professional development. She directs the annual Orientation and Retreats for Chairs and Deans and the Full-Time Faculty Early Career Institute. She also co-directs the Provost's Faculty Leadership Fellows program and CETL's Coaching Program.


STEM (with a mathematics emphasis)

Oscar Fernandez, Ph.D.

Class of 1966 Associate Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics
Wellesley College

Title: "(Small) Teaching Critical Thinking: Quick and Contextualized Ways to Teach and Enhance Students' Critical Thinking Skills in Math and Science"

Date and Time: Monday, February 14th, from 12:00-1:00

RSVP Link:

Bio: Dr. Fernandez is the Class of 1966 Associate Professor of Mathematics at Wellesley College. He has served as the college's Faculty Director of their Pforzheimer Learning and Teaching Center and Faculty Director of their Andrew W. Mellon Evidence-Based Teaching Innovations Grant. He is a 2021 Guggenheim recipient whose research interests include mathematical physics and mathematical demography. He is also the author of Everyday CalculusThe Calculus of Happiness, and Calculus Simplified, all published by Princeton University Press.


STEM (with a natural sciences emphasis)
Natasha G. Holmes, Ph.D.

Ann Bowers Assistant Professor

Department of Physics

Cornell University

Title: "What Does It Really Mean to Teach and Assess Critical Thinking in STEM?"

Date and Time: Thursday, February 17th, from 12:00-1:00
RSVP Link:

Bio: Dr. Holmes is the Ann S. Bowers assistant professor in the Department of Physics at Cornell University, with the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics. Dr. Holmes received her BSc in physics from the University of Guelph and her MSc and PhD in physics at the University of British Columbia. She then went on to do her postdoctoral work at Stanford University working with Dr. Carl Wieman. Her research group studies many aspects of student learning, attitudes, and skill development from hands-on laboratory experiences, with a focus on critical thinking and experimentation. She also explores issues of equity and diversity in physics and methodological issues and techniques in physics education research. Among her many important publications, Dr. Holmes is the lead author on the paper "Teaching Critical Thinking" in PNAS (2015).