Packing up the Big Tent

Que(e)rying and Decolonizing SoTL




decolonization, queer theory, Approaches to SoTL, Critical SoTL


Our reflection begins with our presentation at the 2013 Banff Symposium in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning where we undertook a critique of the “big tent” metaphor that had thus far characterised much of SoTL’s thinking about its inherent diversity.  We acknowledged that as proposed by its originators— Huber & Hutchings (2005) —the “big tent” of SoTL was intended as a capacious space, with room for all who wished to enter. Reflecting on this presentation, we argue that the celebratory big tent with its focus on better teaching and learning may helped SoTL become a more respectable academic enterprise. However, this success has entailed ignoring approaches that often bring into view the challenges of teaching “difficult knowledge” as well as students’ desires to remain ignorant of such knowledge. Now, in Canada at least, we argue the Big Tent must be packed away in order to focus on the messier aspects of teaching and learning. We offer some thoughts on what a decolonizing SoTL might look like.


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Author Biographies

Kelly Hewson, Mount Royal University

Kelly Hewson is Professor Emerita in the Department of English, Languages and Cultures of Mount Royal University, where she spent many years teaching postcolonial literature, global fim, and composition courses. She has collaborated on numerous SoTL projects with Lee Easton, focussing on their mutual interests in critical and decolonising pedagogies, reception theory and border studies

Lee Easton, Mount Royal University

Lee Easton is a professor in the Department of English, Languages and Cultures of Mount Royal University. He has collaborated with Dr. Kelly Hewson on many SoTL projects including those that focus on student's reception practices in undergraduate film courses. His interest in comic studies has led to frequent collaborations with Professor Richard Harrison, including their co-authored book Secret Identity Reader: Essays on Sex, Death and the Superhero.