Instructor Spotlight: Danielle Piccoli and Raksha Ramanan
What inspired this course?
Danielle Piccoli: When I took U.S Elections in the fall of my sophomore year, we read a paper detailing how the pipeline to political power is overwhelmingly male. Although I appreciated that the professor included a paper about gender’s role in politics, I left wanting to learn more. I was curious about what other factors have led to the underrepresentation of women and other minority groups in U.S. politics and why other countries have had more success with achieving gender equality. Raksha and I had both taken an ExCollege class before, and decided we wanted to teach one to explore these questions.
Raksha Ramanan: As an International Relations major, I have taken many classes at Tufts about global and comparative politics. In several of these courses, there was a singular day or article that explored the role of gender in politics. I always was hungry for more nuanced conversations about representation and gender, and Danielle agreed with this sentiment as well. So, we sought to design a course that would take a deep dive into this topic in a student-centered and experiential setting.
What do you hope students will take away from this class?
DP: After this class, I hope students will look beyond the face value of politics and understand the deeper dynamics at work, especially when it comes to things such as gender and race. I hope our course encourages students to continue to critically think about our political system and the implications of who we elect.
RR: I hope students will feel empowered to speak up about gender and representation in their future classes, even if they are not specifically about politics.
How has designing this course informed your plans for after graduation? What has the experience of teaching/designing this course taught you?
DP: Good question! I’m not entirely sure what I want to do after graduation, but designing this class has definitely sparked my interest in getting involved in some type of government work or research to better understand public opinion.
RR: Designing a course has taught me that it is possible to take an idea and transform it into a living, breathing product! Each week I find joy engaging in the cyclical process of learning and teaching, and I hope to bring that mindset to whatever profession I pursue.
What’s a reading, movie, book, etc. that you are particularly excited to teach?
DP: Our class is watching the documentary RBG this week! Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneer for women’s rights and I think there is a lot we can learn from her career and experience on the Supreme Court.
RR: One of my favorite texts we will discuss in the class is an article in Smithsonian Magazine titled, “‘Unbought And Unbossed’: When a Black Woman Ran for the White House.” The article covers the profound legacy of Shirley Chisholm, the first woman and black person to run for the US presidency. I am looking forward to shedding light on such an impactful yet often forgotten figure.
Danielle Piccoli (she/her) is a senior pursuing majors in Political Science and Economics. She is from Scarsdale, New York. Besides teaching an ExCollege class, she is involved with 180 Degrees Consulting, ACTION (Advancing Civic Thought In Our Nation), and is an Economics tutor.
Raksha Ramanan (she/her) is a senior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is currently pursuing majors in International Relations and Psychology. On campus, she’s involved with Tufts ACTION (Advancing Civic Thought In Our Nation), serves on the ExCollege Board, and is a Head Fellow in the Writing Fellows Program.