Finding out that a co-worker was an accomplished pilot was the initial spark behind the idea that grew into the “Dream On: Women Who Rule” course, a group-taught course being offered for the first time this spring at OSU-OKC.
Elizabeth Peters, Associate Professor of Psychology in OSU-OKC’s Department of Behavioral Sciences, in 2019 read an OSU-OKC news article about Elaine Regier, Director of Library Services, who had recently completed a flight derby.
“I was fascinated that our quiet librarian upstairs also flies planes and competes,” Peters said. “I've interacted with her for years and never knew she had this amazing ability and interest.”
Peters and Regier began talking about how Regier became a pilot, and how she developed an interest in aviation. Regier loaned Peters a book called “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream.”
“It revealed details about the Mercury 13 and the hard road those women took to simply pursue what they were passionate about in a field predominated by a skeptic male population,” Peters said. “They (along with many women who wanted to pursue logging flight hours) faced great adversity but continued pushing back against inequality and discrimination sometimes at great personal costs.”
The Mercury 13 were 13 American women who took part in a privately funded program aiming to test women for spaceflight; they included Oklahoma State University graduate Wally Funk.
“I felt a sense of duty to empower women with the knowledge that no matter their dream, they should just go for it,” Peters said. “What better way than to offer a team-taught class where women from all walks and backgrounds tell their own inspiring stories and share the women who inspired them?”
Liberal Arts offers a Special Topics course nearly every semester where faculty from each discipline take turns leading, creating, and composing the class theme, topics, and logistics. Previous Special Topics courses have been Good & Evil, Pop Culture, Food & Culture, Gaming, and Pursuit of Domestic Bliss. These courses have an Honors option and are open to those interested who meet prerequisites.
“Feedback from students has been very positive,” Peters said. “Some students say the special topics courses were their favorite and wish we would offer more.”
Peters said many students really like having a variety of instructors and perspectives.
“It gives students something new and engaging to look forward to each week, as each faculty member teaches one to two weeks over a related topic,” Peters said.
Peters said she has assembled a faculty “Dream Team” for “Dream On,” with 12 OSU-OKC faculty from various disciplines, bringing a wide range of topics. The course is cross-listed as PSYC 2453 and HIST 2450, making it a great elective choice for students wanting a progressive, unique academic experience.
“Our division won a state-wide teaching award from the Regents for these special topics courses in 2020, so they are literally award-winning!” Peters said.
The class will begin with a historical overview, highlighting chosen people and points in history, then ascends to more contemporary issues and ideas. Disciplines represented are psychology, history, sociology, cultural anthropology, computer information systems, business, public service, communication, and English. Topics include:
- Women in psychology and history;
- cult of true womanhood;
- power in the medieval age;
- cross-cultural gender constructs and female kings;
- gender and communication;
- female writers who broke the mold;
- NASA, Wally & The Mercury 13;
- women pilots;
- women in entertainment;
- CEOs & women rocking the business world;
- The Pink Tax - discrimination, bias, & gender;
- underrepresentation of women in politics;
- women & ecology,
- LGBTQ+? Issues.
Peters said learning the problems and challenges of the past can help women advocate for their own futures.
“It will be an honest reflection of our history and leave participants with an inspiring, refreshing take on how women can advocate for their own destiny and in turn, mentor and guide the next generation,” Peters said. “The problems women faced in the past are not necessarily obsolete. We will explore those topics and discuss women today.”
The course is open to anyone interested who meets the college reading and writing prerequisites.
“This course may be especially important for young women who are not sure about their paths yet and/or wouldn't otherwise consider choosing career fields where women weren't historically encouraged,” Peters said.