Read more about Dr. Kearns’ professional activities on her Biography page.
Dr. Katie Kearns is an educator, scholar, and author about the experiences of graduate students. She was employed with Indiana University’s graduate school and teaching center from 2005-2023, supporting graduate students and their development and instructional capacities. Her workshops and talks include identity development, building a mentor network, preparing a statement of teaching philosophy, communities of practice, and PhD careers within higher education. Kearns has co-edited two books, Teaching as if Learning Matters (Indiana University Press, 2022) and Higher Education Careers Beyond the Professoriate (Purdue University Press, forthcoming) and published in educational development journals. She received a PhD in ecology and taught biology at the University of Georgia and Boston University.
Katie sporadically writes blogs for graduate students and the people who mentor them about graduate student wellbeing and identity development. She also writes about her personal interests including glass blowing, creativity, explorations, community, and living with complex PTSD.
- The meaning of waterTaking that 200-level ecology course was a sliding door moment for me. It changed my life trajectory, my worldview about my own power and place, and my associations and affiliations. It was the start of a new self-narrative.
- Clicky pensWhat isn’t verifiable is my internal experience of that class. I can still unearth the sensations from layers of quiet panic related to that class. It’s a Pavlovian experience for me; if I hear the click from that kind of pen, I am taken right in my mind and body to the sensations of being in that orgo class.
- Music lessonsOur musical communities anticipated and accepted change as a gift of the experience. Thus, passages, initiations, and transitions were opportunities to collectively honor what had been and celebrate what’s ahead. During my senior year, we created our own musical festival on a Friday night in the school cafeteria called “Wild Things,” a homegrown extravaganza including a drum circle (organized by our science teacher) and our class’ garage band, Pale Green Pants (my favorite song of theirs was “Chunky Monkey”). The cast of Annie gave me a rubber dog bone as a get-well present after I sustained a serious dog bite while working at a vet clinic that same summer after my senior year (yes, I had _four_ part-time jobs that summer of 1992).
- Love letters from graduate studentsI received the email about the book award the evening before I made my resignation public. That message helped me balance my grief with all of the loving relationships and communities I had been a part of creating over my 18 years. As I depart this university, I cherish the book and the contained graduate students’ essays as love letters. Between the lines, I can see, hear, and feel what mattered to them about the worlds we co-created.
- Slow down! Graduate student developers at playGraduate student developers regularly perform pure magic with professional development programming for graduate students: pedagogy workshops, learning communities, feedback on teaching philosophy statements, classroom observations. At the same time, we make invisible what a project really costs in terms of specialized time, skills, and energy.
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