Approaching Sensitive Issues in the Classroom

David Hochfelder's picture

Hi Everyone,

I'd like to tap into the collective wisdom of this list. I'll be teaching a 200-level history of technology course next spring 2021, and I want to start the course with a couple-three readings about the history of the rape kit and the issue of current processing backlogs (about 100,000 unprocessed kits in the US). It seems like this history and current status are great ways to talk about issues of who gets credit for invention, how innovation is gendered, how crime and policing are gendered, how society chooses to prioritize and allocate resources, the current issues surrounding society and policing, etc.

Articles are here: 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/17/opinion/rape-kit-history.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rape-kit-backlog-grows-nationwide-jeopardizing-prosecutions/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rape-kits-are-sitting-on-shelves-untested/

There will be a high likelihood that in a class of about 50 there will be rape survivors or loved ones of rape survivors. I would appreciate any thoughts and suggestions for how to handle this history and current relevance in a way that is sensitive to survivors and loved ones of survivors. 

You can either reply to this message in H-Net or personally to my email: dhochfelder@albany.edu.

Thanks in advance.

Dave Hochfelder

University at Albany, SUNY