Karen Spierling, Professor of History & Director of Global Commerce
A Shift in Space
When COVID-19 hit, Denison had to create new spaces and reorganize existing ones in accordance with social distancing guidelines, including classrooms. Spierling now teaches her senior seminar classes in the Center for Learning and Teaching in the Library and Lamson Lodge—allowing for extra room to spread out.
No Zoom Fatigue
COVID-19 presents extra challenges for faculty to stay connected with students outside of class. But those challenges certainly haven’t stopped Professor Spierling. These days, Spierling checks in with her advisees via Zoom conversations, and finds even those conversations on digital platforms energize her. They also push her to set aside whatever is on her mind for the moment and be present and stay positive for her students.
A New Normal
As great as Zoom may be, Spierling missed running into students around campus and having students drop by the Global Commerce office, so she started having outdoor office hours for students—largely in the big red adirondack chairs on Slayter Plaza. It was there that she had those normal office-hours conversations ranging from schoolwork, to class schedules, to tips on how to craft a professional email. She and her students also spent plenty of time talking through life and politics in a pandemic. For Spierling, it feels a little like life pre-COVID when every moment didn’t have to be planned out—she can simply have a conversation with anyone who wants to stop by.
Talking the Walk
In addition to her outdoor office hours on the academic quad, Spierling also has impromptu office hours after class outside the library and hosts walking meetings with students around campus or with colleagues by the Scioto River in Columbus.