The Impact of recent Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v. Wade, Diversity in the classroom at MTSU, a New Public Writing and Rhetoric Degree

Jul 18, 2022 at 09:03 am by Producer


On Monday, WGNS' Scott Walker talked to a variety of guests from MTSU to discuss the Impact of recent Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v. Wade, Diversity in the classroom at MTSU and a New Public Writing and Rhetoric Degree. See more details below, and listen to the entire show on the WGNS Podcast! 


GUEST: Dr. Michelle Stevens, director of Center for Fairness, Justice and Equity in the MTSU College of Education

TOPIC: The new center and its mission to diversify in the ranks of classroom educators

The Center for Fairness, Justice and Equity at MTSU opened this spring within MTSU College of Education.

As stated on its website, the center’s vision is “to cultivate an inclusive and diverse College of Education by intentionally recruiting diverse faculty, teacher candidates and educational personnel from a multitude of backgrounds. 

Increasing diversity benefits the entire COE by yielding creativity, new insights, innovative skills and multiple perspectives.”

The idea for the center cropped up a few years ago when the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education, better known as SCORE, and the MTSU came to a joint decision in the SCORE report to recommend that the college, amongst other things, create a center for diversity. 

One of the report’s many findings in recent years is the impact of the state’s teacher workforce not being representative of the students being served. For example, about 38% of Tennessee students are people of color but only 14% of Tennessee teachers are, states the 2021 report

Research has demonstrated the academic and nonacademic benefits for all students, and particularly students of color, when learning with a teacher of color,” the report continues, citing several published research studies to support this finding. 

CFJE Director Michelle Stevens values the collaboration with the students, faculty and staff at the College of Education that is a large part of her new role. 

Being able to collaborate … on various tasks like grant writing, curriculum assessment and advocacy has been rewarding and fulfilling for me as a lifelong educator and learner,” Stevens said. “In addition to this personal and professional fulfillment, my hope is that the foundational work that we’ve done over the past several months has and will be truly beneficial for current and future COE students, faculty and staff.”

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GUEST: Dr. Eric Detweiler, assistant professor in the Department of English and director/faculty advisor for the Public Writing and Rhetoric program

TOPIC: MTSU’s new Public Writing and Rhetoric degree program approved earlier this year

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved MTSU’s new Public Writing and Rhetoric program in the spring, with successful enrollee’s earning a Bachelor of Science upon completion.

This interdisciplinary program includes a four-course core focused on the study and production of rhetorically effective written work for a range of public and professional audiences and purposes.  

Additional PWR electives allow students to gain further experience in arenas like digital writing, writing with community partners, cultural rhetorics, and technical writing.  

The Public Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) program gives students extensive, hands-on experience learning to write for audiences beyond academic settings. Working with faculty who research and teach courses on technical writing, podcasting, digital reading practices, collaborative writing, video games, community and public rhetorics, multimodal composition, and user experience design, students in the program become dynamic, rhetorically adaptable writers prepared to navigate a wide range of audiences, genres, and platforms.

In a fast-changing employment landscape where employers put a premium on flexible, well-developed writing skills, PWR students graduate with in-demand professional skills and the ability to make a difference in the world with their writing. 

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GUESTS: Dr. John Vile, dean of the University Honors College, constitutional law scholar and author

TOPIC: Impact of recent Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v. Wade and the Jan. 6 congressional hearings

Vile’s expertise has been much sought after in recent weeks following the landmark decision regarding abortion rights with the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the ongoing fallout from this historic decision to reverse a 50-plus year precedent.

Now firmly in the control of a conservative majority, the Court also raised eyebrows with recent decisions on Second Amendment rights, separation of church and state, and a pending case regarding control of local elections that could have profound impact on subsequent elections.

In a recent contribution to related the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the recent congressional hearings surrounding it, Vile addressed attempts by some Republicans to put forth “alternate electors” following the defeat of former President Donald Trump.

Had there been genuine evidence that state voting totals were inaccurate, states may have had power to decide which slate of electors should be reported from their states,” said Vile, the author of “A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments.”

But Trump challenges to election counts (which included baseless challenges by Sidney Powell, Rudolph Giuliani, and Mike Lindell of MyPillow) were consistently and firmly rejected as unfounded by courts that examined the issue, so the attempt to replace one set of electors with another would have resembled a coup rather than an attempt to remedy electoral irregularities,” Vile said.

Noting that the laws barring faithless electors seek to uphold the will of voters, Vile said, “… the attempt to substitute alternate elector lists was designed to thwart this will.”