Letter of Support from Jennifer Jill Fellows

Dear Tenure and Promotion Committee at TRU,

I am writing today to talk about the way that the work Dr. Brenna Clarke Gray has done at TRU has fundamentally changed my own scholarship. This, primarily, has been through her work in designing and leading the TRU Master Class in Podcasting, an open-access class that I enrolled in in the fall of 2021. I had previously met with Dr. Gray and learned some basics regarding podcasting from her, as well as pieced together some basics on my own and through YouTube videos. Through these informal meetings I had gained enough confidence to set out one modest podcasting project with limited scope. But it was this Masterclass that was really the catalyst in helping me develop the skills and find the confidence to launch my own academic podcast in the Spring of 2022.

I can’t express how important it was for me to have this class as a place to play, make mistakes, and get feedback from a supportive and encouraging community as I flailed my way towards academic podcaster. One small example is how I learned that my love of sound effects was, perhaps, going over the top and straying from ‘cutsey’ into the realm of ‘slapstick’! The feedback from this class helped me to cultivate a podcast sound that is fun and energetic without being silly or cringe-worthy.

Having a task to complete every two weeks, and getting to see what my classmates were up to, as well as the drop-in sessions over the course of the term, really helped me pick away at podcasting skills, developing and honing them in-between my other professional and teaching responsibilities. I am not, by nature, a particularly technically-minded person, and am often a bit intimidated by the idea of learning new software and platforms. But at every stage of the Master Class, Dr. Gray and her team made me believe that these skills were well within my abilities and that I could succeed in this space.

I learned how to edit audio and how and when to add music. I learned how to host a podcast and generate an RSS feed. I learned what kind of things to include in the shownotes of my podcast (something I had embarrassingly been leaving blank prior to the Master Class). I also learned a lot about fair use and copyright both of my own material and also what music and sounds I could use and in which contexts. Finally, the Master Class drove home the importance of transcription in order to ensure my podcast was accessible, and gave some tips on how to do transcription more easily.

By the end of the Master Class, I felt confident enough that I was willing to apply to the Marc Sanders Foundation for Public Philosophy as a Podcasting Fellow, where I learned even more tips and tricks about academic podcasting. But I know I would not have had the confidence to even apply were it not for the TRU Master Class that allowed me to believe that this was something I could do.

Today I have launched season one of Gender, Sex and Tech: Continuing the Conversation which has sixteen published episodes. In addition, I even went so far as to pitch an idea to CBC Ideas about a radio documentary in feminist philosophy of technology. The producer at Ideas loved the pitch, and I am now working on that documentary with the Ideas team, using many of the skills I learned in the TRU Master Class and through additional meetings with Dr. Gray.

Dr. Gray is unwaveringly supportive, and has a rare capacity to believe so firmly in the capabilities of the people she is guiding that we can’t help but believe in ourselves too. I understand that it can be hard to measure the impact of her work. So I am writing to you today to tell you that Gender, Sex and Tech: Continuing the Conversation is listened to by 20-40 people every week right now. I expect this number to grow in the fall, as many of the episodes of the podcast are suitable to be assigned in post-secondary classes as supplementary material for feminist discussions of technology and its place in our society. In addition, if all goes well with CBC, my Ideas episode is set to air across the nation at the end of October. I will be reaching thousands of Canadians with my philosophical research and ideas. None of that would have been possible without Dr. Gray. And I am just one of the many people who enrolled in the TRU Master Class in Podcasting in the Fall and in the Spring. I would say, humbly, that this is a pretty significant impact.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions. I can most easily be reached via email at fellowsj@douglascollege.ca

Best Regards,
Jennifer Jill Fellows, PhD
Regular Faculty, Department of Philosophy
Douglas College