Melissa Graboyes

Clark Honors College | 541-346-2829

Courses: CHC 231: Epidemics and Epistemologies; CHC 232: Disease, Public Health, and the Making of the Modern World; CHC 441: Current Biomedical Research Topics

In my classes you will:

  • Make connections to lived experiences and real-world challenges.
  • Interact during exciting, participatory class meetings.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am an Ersted Award Recipient.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

As a first-generation college student who self-funded my way by attending a community college and then a public university, I deeply appreciate working at a state school. I introduce myself as a first-generation college graduate at the start of my classes and try to make myself accessible to students.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

Many of my CHC colleagues are very interested in teaching and we share a lot in terms of discussions about learning objectives, ideas for new assignments, and new activities or grading strategies we've tried. The little shift I'm trying for 2019 is to move to doing all grading electronically to streamline things while not compromising the quality of feedback I'm giving on essays. The big shift I'm preparing for is a re-design of my courses to align with the Honor College's new curriculum, and also the possibility of moving to Specifications Grading. My professional mentor recommended this approach, and I'm really excited about trying it out.

I also think about professional engagement with teaching as a way to build a set of skills I'm interested in developing personally. To that end, I've long wanted to shift to begin doing more writing for non-academic audiences. I'm going to be doing a training with the Op-Ed Project in 2019 and will be teaching Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing for CHC students in future years.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

My goal when teaching is to facilitate an engaged room of learners, to have students take ownership over the material, and for me to introduce students not just to a particular topic, but to the types of sources and methods used by historians. In each of my courses, I create opportunities for students to interact with primary sources in multiple forms: photographs, videos, oral narratives, archival documents, and ideally, material forms of culture. Introducing students to the challenges (and frustrations) of primary sources helps me look at my own materials in a new way, has often led to new insights, and is the most authentic way I know of showing students what historical research looks and feels like.

Another goal is to infuse my teaching with my research. In upcoming classes, I will be teaching with draft chapters of my book on the failed malaria eradication attempts in Zanzibar, allowing students to work with materials from the World Health Organization and Zanzibar National Archives. I also plan to present them with interview transcripts for a discussion of how potentially contradictory pieces of information can be integrated into historical scholarship. I have done this in the past with positive feedback from students. I believe this helps pull back the curtain on the writing process and that it renews conversations about the production of historical knowledge.

What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?

In 2019 I'm going to be participating in training with the Op-Ed Project, which is meant to help people from all walks of life better share their stories in the public realm (op-eds as one vehicle, but also others). I'm really excited about this since I've long talked about wanting to write for broader audiences, to think about magazine pieces, and doing a better job reaching out to medical professionals and global health specialists that I wish would read my academic work! This year I'm going to really commit some time and energy to see if I can do better in this area, and I'm excited since it's a new skill set, and I anticipate it being both challenging and energizing.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I have been gifted with such wonderful students. Those who have done independent research in foreign countries, carried out projects with important social justice missions, worked to improve public health in our community, and gone on to medical school, schools of public health, doctoral programs, and really significant work careers. In the past, I’ve gotten to work really closely with students who participate in my global health research group, and also the students who I’ve hired as research assistants. For those students, I see them on a weekly basis for 2-3 years and get to follow their intellectual development. In the past, I’ve ended up writing published articles with some of these students, making conference papers, and having them assist with archival research in Africa.