Dr Fiona Handyside

Nominated for Best Supervisor (Research) 2015

Multi-disciplinary learning

Name Dr Fiona Handyside
Email F.J.Handyside@exeter.ac.uk
Position Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages
College

College of Humanities

Multi-disciplinary research and learning

Dr Fiona Handyside teaches across two subject areas; Film Studies and Modern Languages. Fiona’s current research focuses on the representation of girlhood within film, specifically the alternative representations of contemporary girls within African, Asian, European and American films, which are different from the dominant Hollywood movie depictions. Fiona has recently edited a book called ‘International Cinema and the Girl’, which has drawn from a wide range of contributors.

Within her teaching, Fiona interacts with a wide variety of students from a range of backgrounds, specifically in terms of their experience with film. The key to multi-disciplinary learning within Film Studies, Fiona discusses, is about “making sure that people who are outside of the discipline have the tools” needed to understand the disciplinary knowledge.

In terms of Modern Languages, Fiona discusses how “language study is in and of itself inherently interdisciplinary… Languages do not develop in isolation; a language is a way of communicating a culture, a mode of though, a philosophy… an inherent view of the world. The whole process of being a language student is actually putting yourself into an interdisciplinary subject area.”

Actively engaging students through discussion and support

“I think that students like to engage with material where they can see that it’s relevant to their lives and the kind of questions that they’re asking themselves... What I try to do is to help students see the links between their own experience, and what kind of issues they may be facing, and these broader questions.” Fiona believes that students become far more actively engaged with material if they are encouraged to bring in and question their own personal experiences to discussion in the classroom.

“It’s really important… to remember that education is a very personal process. What makes it a really exciting thing to be involved in is that moment of interaction between individuals within a classroom context, or, in the case of research supervision, between you and your PhD student.” Fiona discusses how important it is for students to learn to ‘let go’. “I don’t see myself as the person who has the answers at all; in fact my role is really to bounce things back to people… You’re wanting to point out to people that it’s okay not to know the answer… to make people feel okay with living with uncertainty and doubt.”

Aim 6: Multi-disciplinary learning for global challenges 

To provide all students with the opportunity to explore the relevance of different disciplines to contemporary challenges facing the world

Actively engaging students within the classroom

"It’s very much about trying to create an atmosphere in which people feel safe to talk…”

Multi-disciplinary learning to tackle global challenges

“The tools that one acquires from a degree… is actually a sense of risk and possibility in learning.”