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Interdisciplinary co-teaching as a sustainable model for health humanities pedagogy
  1. Amanda van Beinum1,2,
  2. Joanis Sherry2
  1. 1Sociology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amanda van Beinum, Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada; amandavb{at}


Academics and students from marginalised identities encounter challenges and barriers at all levels of participation in the settler colonial university, in both practices of teaching and learning. While this observation holds true for courses in the health humanities, their unique interdisciplinary position and context creates space for challenging dominant norms in society and in academia. In this paper, we describe our experiences as two black and queer graduate students developing and co-teaching an online interdisciplinary course, ‘Race and Medicine’. The idea for co-teaching originated as a means of ensuring continuity and sustainability in the course (AvB was expecting her first child and contending with the possibility of unplanned preterm birth) and emerged into what we suggest, in line with the transformative pedagogical theory of bell hooks, was a micro-scale transgressive learning community. We argue that our co-teaching partnership facilitated practices of revealing, mitigating and disrupting oppressive structures in the white heteropatriarchal academy, in addition to offering unique learning opportunities for students. The intersections of difference and similarity between our disciplinary, professional and social identities transformed and enhanced the types of conversations and learning activities we held with the class and were a feature of the course which was rated highly in evaluations. We conclude by suggesting co-teaching as a possible model of sustainable pedagogy for the health humanities, one that is especially valuable for racialised graduate students who are developing professional identities as instructors and exploring careers in the health humanities. In addition to facilitating interdisciplinary student learning, co-teaching and the subsequent formation of micro-scale transgressive learning communities challenges the dominant power structures of the academy by making space for teaching and learning in the contexts of solidarity, care and sustainability.

  • Medical humanities
  • sociology
  • Education

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  • Contributors AvB and JS were equally involved in the planning, conduct, conception, design, writing and editing of this manuscript. AvB accepts full responsibility for the content as guarantor.

  • Funding This study was funded by Carleton University (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.