At its June 2020 board meeting, the Knox College Board of Trustees awarded tenure to four faculty members: Scott DeWitt (Educational Studies), Nathaniel Williams (Educational Studies), Benjamin Farrer (Environmental Studies) and Sara O’Brien (Psychology). All four will now hold the rank of associate professor.
Scott DeWitt, Educational Studies, has focused his research on diversity training in the social sciences. His expertise in this area is reflected in his teaching, particularly the course “Teaching and Learning in Diverse World,” a requirement for all educational studies majors. He has published research on testing standards, teaching with technology, and economics instruction and was the co-author of Teaching About Diversity: Activities to Start the Conversation, Information Age Publishing (2020). He has also been a contributor to local and national conversations on improving resources for school teachers, following from his own experiences as a secondary school teacher. His interest in athletics also makes him a regular attendee at Knox events as a fan, coach, and participant.
DeWitt earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, M.A. Ed. from Northern Kentucky University, and a B.A. from the Hope College. He has taught at Knox since 2014.
Nathaniel Williams, Educational Studies, has a particular interest in biracial identities and in addressing racial inequality in teaching and learning. This informs how he teaches core classes in Knox's education curriculum; he has designed and redesigned courses in his department to better examine intersections of elements such as cognitive development, social constructs, policy, race, and gender identity. He has served on numerous faculty committees, program development teams, and search committees. His many publications include “A tale of two 'halfs': Being Black, while being biracial” (2019) and “An Urban School Principal Encounters a Group of Teachers Who Seek to Address Racism in Their School” (2017). Beyond Knox, he has invested time in youth empowerment and community education programs.
Williams earned his Ph.D. in urban education from Indiana University, Indianapolis, M.S. at Indiana University, Bloomington, and B.A. Ed. at IUPU-Indianapolis.
Benjamin Farrer, Environmental Studies, is a co-recipient of a major National Science Foundation grant to study hydraulic fracturing that has enabled him and his student assistants to conduct in-depth research that includes laboratory experiments, data collection, and focus groups on the public perception of “fracking.” In addition to introductory courses, he has taught specialized courses on the policy of climate change and “Environment and the Apocalypse.” As a political scientist in an interdisciplinary area, his publications include diverse topics such as hydraulic fracturing and voter satisfaction with democracy. Farrer is the author of the book Organizing for Policy Influence: Comparing Parties, Interest Groups, and Direct Action, Routledge (2017). He also serves as a study hall co-ordinator and tutor at Henry Hill Correctional Facility.
Farrer earned his Ph.D. in comparative politics from Binghamton University and his B.A. from the University of Leeds. He has taught at Knox since 2015.
Sara O’Brien, Psychology, is especially interested in mood and anxiety disorders, with a focus on obsessive-compulsive disorder. She directed the latest Clinical Psychology Term and did research on mothers’ influence on their children’s personalities. She has served as a mentor in the SPARK summer bridge program, on the First-Year Experience Taskforce, the Academic Standing Committee, and other areas where her expertise on mental health awareness supports students and instructors. Since arriving at Knox in 2014, O’Brien has been an author on 17 published peer-reviewed papers and was recently the lead author of studies on “the role of disgust in body image disturbance.” She received the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Excellence in Teaching for Untenured Faculty in 2019.
She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, her M.A. from the University of Iowa, and her B.A. from Miami University.