Beyond the Classroom Introduces New Professors Candice Price, Cory Gooding

Beyond the Classroom Introduces New Professors Candice Price, Cory Gooding

Professors Cory Gooding and Candice Price have each taught at the University of San Diego for a year or less — Gooding in the Political Science/International Relations Department since January 2016 and Price in Mathematics since Fall 2016 — so it was a perfect opportunity Feb. 16 to introduce themselves to the USD community in the latest “Beyond the Classroom” event series.

The meet-up brought these two professors into the United Front Multicultural Center space to engage with students, staff, faculty and administrators. Co-hosted by the Black Student Resource Center and part of USD's Black History Month February celebration, interacting with Gooding and Price was a chance to learn personal stories, thoughts on social justice and how they utilize it in their classrooms and more.

Learning and Connecting

"It's fantastic to talk to students in an informal setting," said Gooding, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, an undergraduate alumnus of Pennsylvania’s Haverford College (BA) and two graduate degrees from UCLA. "One thing you realize is that outside of the classroom, students are active, but you just don't know what fantastic things they do on campus and in the community. This is a great way to get a sense if they are taking what they learn in the classroom and applying it to their passions. I thought it was clear in this room that folks are trying to figure out how to make positive change. To the extent that we can connect on this level is really emerging."

Price, a native of Long Beach, Calif., but raised in Sacramento, earned mathematics degrees from Chico State (BA), San Francisco State (MA) and University of Iowa (PhD). She enjoyed the opportunity for conversation and was left inspired to create new classes, such as team-taught interdisciplinary courses on social justice that could be fused with math. She sought to incorporate more critical thinking beyond just the problem-solving aspects of math.

"I want students to solve an engineering problem and then talk about how it will affect the environment around them. Through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), you do the calculations, but the math problem you're solving might be used in certain ways to create less equitable environments for people,” she said. “What does that mean? If you program a robot, what is it being used for?"

Price and Gooding shared insights about themselves growing up, spoke of their respective passion for cooking and books and more. Price stated that her goal, especially after getting to college and studying a STEM subject where she didn't see many others like her, became a sense of pride to be a role model. "When someone says ‘I can do it because Ms. Price did it, I wanted to be that person.’"

Gooding grew up where "the sounds of sirens and gunshots are what I fell asleep to. But I've travelled, I’ve gone to some of the best schools, done some amazing things and I'm thankful for having extraordinary teachers, professors, parents, mentors and others who've guided me to this point with their support and respect. I feel this work is my repayment. I've done organizing, consulting and worked with organizations where I've tried to make education more inclusive. It all inspires my job."

Gooding’s interest in politics and social justice came at a young age and it was a college professor for a liberation theology class "that turned my world upside down." Getting older, Gooding said his ideas regarding social justice have been connected to scripture, such as Micah 6:8 — "But what does the Lord ask of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God." It, he said, "forms the way I approach my profession, my career as an academic and personally."

Spotlighting Success

Price believes strongly in the power of the personal story to help others better understand people and shed stereotypes. "Share your story. Making it personal is really important."

One way Price contributes is through a website that launched last fall, Mathematically Gifted and Black. She saw a website celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and honoring mathematicians and sought to do something similar for black mathematicians. Then, when the Academy-Award nominated film, "Hidden Figures," was released, focusing on three black female mathematicians at NASA and how their math skills, specifically Katherine Johnson's, supported the space mission of astronaut John Glenn, the website came to life quicker than expected.

"I was shocked that I didn't know who she was," Price admitted. "When Hidden Figures came out, we knew we had to ride this wave of highlighting those who are hidden. I want people to know about us. I want to help shine a light on all of these people and what they're doing."

During February, which is Black History Month, the website has been featuring weekly videos and frequent stories to celebrate trailblazers, rising stars and programs that have helped black mathematicians thrive.

A USD “Hidden Figures” film screening at a local theatre and post-film group discussion was held on Feb. 12 for 53 USD students, faculty and staff.

"What would have happened if there weren't these barriers from the start, if there weren't these separations and these women always felt they could be engineers," pondered Price. "Anyone can be what they are passionate about if they put their heart and soul into it."

Election Discussions

Gooding, meanwhile, has had an uptick in classroom conversations in his political science courses before, during and after the 2016 election. He participated in USD Votes events centered on the importance of registering to vote. The outcome of the 2016 election has increased discussions on many politically-charged issues.

"Last semester was tricky. I tried to create a safe space for folks in both of the classes and my office hours were whenever I was in there to talk, to understand, or to vent," Gooding said. "I tried my best to not focus on individuals, but on ideas so that we can traverse some of the typical lines. You can't say, 'What do you think about Trump?' because half of the class can say, 'Man, this is fantastic,' and the other half you can see their visible stress. So, if we can think through what the implications are for things we supposedly commonly hold dear, then hopefully folks on both sides can challenge themselves and each other to say, 'Shoot, I didn't think about that perspective.'"

— Ryan T. Blystone

USD Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Candice Price, PhD, speaks as fellow Assistant Professor of Political Science, Cory Gooding, PhD, listens during a Beyond the Classroom event.USD Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Candice Price, PhD, speaks as fellow Assistant Professor of Political Science, Cory Gooding, PhD, listens during a Beyond the Classroom event.

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