Liberal Arts undergraduates to teach six courses in the spring

December 14, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students Teaching Students recently announced their spring 2021 schedule. In total, 10 Penn State undergraduates will teach eight official courses next semester.  

Students Teaching Students provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to teach official courses that count towards the minimum credit requirement for graduation. The organization was founded by Michael Miller and Josie Krieger during the spring 2020 semester. 

Junior Freddie Miller will teach a course on musical theater of the 21st century. He said teaching has always been a passion of his, and he’s spent the past three summers teaching theater to middle and high school students. Miller has also worked as a teaching assistant for the School of Theatre.   

“I eventually want to get an MFA in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism so I can teach at a university,” said Miller, a theater and comparative literature major. “The Students Teaching Students program allows me to get a taste of that experience while in undergrad.” 

According to Miller, Penn State did not previously have a course on 21st-century theater.  

“I realized this was the chance to bring that course to Penn State. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the theatre industry, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to examine where we’ve been so we can know where we’re going once things reopen,” Miller said. 

Sophomore Kay Adetiba is looking forward to teaching a course on cultural, ethnic and racial diversity in Disney films. 

“For some parts of the world Disney films are one of the first times children or even adults are introduced to a certain identity or group,” Adetiba said. “I think it’s important to help students and people identify cultural, racial and ethnic discrepancies in how Disney may portray a certain culture and how certain cultures actually interact.” 

Senior Lyra Stubbs, a psychology and women’s studies major with minors in Spanish and sociology, will teach a course on the “miseducation and underrepresentation of the big Black woman."

“I’ve had to deal with these issues my entire life," said Stubbs. "I see these phenomena happen in pop culture, and I feel like we need to talk about it … This course is not necessarily for people who look like me. It’s for people who don’t know anything about race, gender, size, who’ve never had to think about these things because of their privileges.” 

Stubbs’ experience as a pageant queen also influenced her decision as she was figuring out what she wanted to teach. 

“I’m not only a woman of color but also a woman of size in a thin-centric and Euro-centric culture of pageantry,” Stubbs said. “I feel like I’m constantly trying to disrupt and change people’s perceptions of what beauty is. I figured I'd bring that to my classroom. It’s not going to be a typical college course.” 

Stubbs said her liberal arts education has allowed her to unlearn some of her biases and prepared her to foster a similar —i f not the same — challenging, uncomfortable and reflective experience for the students who enter her class. 

Listed below are the descriptions and details about the spring 2021 courses that will be taught by liberal arts students. 

BA 397 Act Now for a Sustainable Future 

If you had the power, what problems would you solve? Health inequities? Environmental injustices? Discriminatory practices? Oppressive systems? This three-credit course will help students assess the most pervasive and pressing issues in our world and provide a framework to solve them. The course will be taught by Maddy Mitchell and Paterno Fellow Nora Van Horn. It will be a mixed-mode course that meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4–5:15 p.m. Interested students can search for course number 30658 in LionPATH. 

CED 497-002 The Impact of Drug Cartels on Development in Rural Latin America 

This 1-credit course will examine how drug cartels have impacted different areas of development in rural Latin America. Specific topics to be examined include crime, poverty, agriculture, education, economic growth, gender dynamics, rule of law and family. The course will be taught by Maria Camila Cepeda, an international politics major with French and economics minors. The course will meet remotely on Mondays from 10:10–11 a.m. Interested students can watch this short video about the course and search for course number 30381 in LionPATH.  

ENGL X97 Unpacking the Cultural, Ethnic and Racial Diversity in Disney Films 

This discussion-based course will help students recognize misrepresentation in Disney and Pixar films and unpack the implications of cultural, ethnic and racial representations of marginalized groups. This 1-credit course will be taught by Adetiba, a French and communication arts and sciences major. This course has not yet been added to LionPATH. To be notified when it is available, please email Amanda Mohamed at

RLST 197 The Roman Liturgy Since 1900 

This one-credit course will focus on the development of Roman Catholic liturgy from the days of the early Church to the present era. It will concentrate on three distinct time periods of the past century: from 1900-the Second Vatican Council, the Council itself, and the era after the Council. The course will be taught by Paterno Fellow Victor Fuentes and will meet in person on Wednesdays from 7:05–7:55 p.m. Interested students can search for course number 30965 in LionPATH. 

THEA 497-008 American Musical Theatre History: From 9/11 to COVID-19 

This one-credit course will focus on 21st-century American musical theater, investigating global events as they parallel the creation of musical theatre works. Beginning immediately before and after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 through current day and the coronavirus pandemic, THEA 497 will encourage students to engage in recent history and how it helped shape the diversity and socio-economics of the American musical theatre of the 21st century. The course will be taught by Miller and will meet remotely on Wednesdays from 3:35–4:25 p.m. Interested students can watch this short video about the course and search for course number 30657 in LionPATH.  

WMNST 197 B.B.W.: The Miseducation and Underrepresentation of the Big Black Woman 

This one-credit course will explore the ways in which Black women of size fall prey to various systems in the United States based on the unique intersection in which they are situated. Students will interrogate how fatphobia, racism, sizeism and sexism are used to dehumanize and marginalize these women, while also examining how these women resist (and have resisted) this oppression throughout history and presently. The course will be taught by Stubbs and will meet remotely on Fridays from 1:25–2:15 p.m. Interested students can search for course number 30799 in LionPATH.  

Students Teaching Students partners with both the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and the Student Engagement Network. If any student is interested in teaching or taking one of the Students Teaching Students courses, they are encouraged to visit

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Last Updated December 14, 2020