JMU scholars assemble ‘feminist scholarship’ fellowship

James Madison University is tasking recipients of a "feminist scholarship" fellowship with maintaining a "feminist scholarship community."

The university told applicants to "briefly describe what you think makes scholarship feminist and how your project(s) fits that description."

James Madison University will hold its first meeting for a new faculty fellowship community to advance “feminist scholarship” on Friday.

The university was seeking faculty applicants for the “Madison Fellowship,” geared toward “sustaining feminist scholarship at JMU.” The fellowship is described as a “faculty community dedicated to sustaining feminist scholarship both on-campus and in [applicants’] own research projects.”

“Participants will have the opportunity to write together weekly in an unstructured accountability group,” according to JMU. The group will meet monthly to discuss questions such as “What makes scholarship feminist?” and “How do we sustain feminist scholarship at JMU?”

Faculty participants will be expected to further a feminist project, interact with fellow scholars to aid their efforts, and find methods for maintaining a “feminist scholarship community.”

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The group will be facilitated by JMU associate professor of anthropology Rebecca Howes-Mischel, who is currently studying the “gendered contexts of human microbiome research,” which she says involves speaking with birth attendants and scientists, as well as monitoring academic and larger, societal trends.

“It certainly seems strange and a little pointless to me,” JMU Turning Point USA President Sophia Cabana told Campus Reform. “I’m not sure how one would go about defining ‘feminist scholarship’ or somehow turning feminism into an academic discipline, which it certainly shouldn’t be.”

The school asked students applying for the fellowship four questions: “Briefly describe what you think makes scholarship feminist and how your project(s) fits that description,” “How would you describe the state of feminist scholarship at JMU?,” “What will make participation in this faculty community a success for you?”, and if they were able to commit to pre-set meeting dates.

The fellowship is a function of JMU’s Center for Faculty Innovation, a university department consisting of tenured and tenure-track teaching faculty who provide other JMU teaching faculty members with avenues for professional development.

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“As of this point it looks as though JMU is supporting the expression of an idea rather than the idea itself,” JMU student Kyle Ford told Campus Reform, saying he believes there are “other demographics” that need more attention than feminism in scholarship.

Campus Reform reached out to Howes-Mischel and JMU for comment but did not receive a response.

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