Seven Mattes Named a 2022-23 Adams Academy Fellow

July 14, 2022 - Emily Jodway

Seven MattesDr. Seven Mattes, assistant professor at the Center for Integrative Studies in the College of Social Science, has been accepted into the Adams Academy Fellowship for the upcoming academic year. 

The Adams Academy brings together faculty and academic staff from across disciplines for a year-long fellowship focused on advanced topics in teaching and learning. Fellows will have the opportunity to meet and discuss current teaching practices and how to apply them in new ways in the classroom. They will also conduct research of their own with help from a personal development grant from the fellowship. 

The program, named after former MSU President Walter Adams and his wife, faculty member emerity Pauline Adams, was designed for faculty with a minimum of three years of teaching service at Michigan State who have exhibited excellence through their teachings and are interested in further developing their skills. 

Dr. Mattes is in her fourth year teaching at the Center of Integrative Studies and specializes in the research of human-animal relationships, regionally focused in Japan. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Michigan State in 2018 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University. 

“I was initially interested [in Adams Academy] because it's a way to connect with other professors across campus,” Mattes said. “Hearing from and being able to work with colleagues across campus, you learn things that you might not have learned by staying in your own lane.”

Dr. Mattes maintains a focus on Japanese human-animal relationships, but has explored more local research since joining the Center for Integrative Studies in 2019. In collaboration with colleagues, her most recent work includes a pedagogical project with local farmers markets as well as an experiential Hub Studio course at the MSU Student Organic Farm in which students took part in an interdisciplinary multispecies classroom – learning from and among pigs

“My goal in teaching, as well as in research, is to critically think about and work through our sometimes complicated relationships with other animals,” Mattes said. 

Mattes’ other research projects examine ways to improve disaster preparedness and resiliency for both humans and animals, beginning with an ongoing study on non-profit animal rescues who tackled the chaos following the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear disaster in Japan. She is currently also conducting research on the treatment of animals and animal production workers during the height of COVID-19. 

“I was originally just going to study human-animal relations in Japan, and then the Fukushima disaster occurred. My research focused on the nonprofit organizations, especially the animal rescue ones in Japan, who went into the Fukushima nuclear zone and took animals out for safety, because they were unfortunately originally stuck there, usually without food or water. So that kind of set my research trajectory in that direction.”

Looking ahead to the start of her tenure in the Adams Academy Fellowship this fall, Mattes hopes to explore new ways of teaching in an ever-changing world while furthering her own research in the process. Especially working in the field of Social Science, Mattes expresses how important it is to keep up with teaching trends as society shifts, especially in recent years with the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I like to keep up with all of the contemporary ideas occurring and to hear how other professors are teaching and working with the events of today,” Mattes said. “How they’re dealing with [change] and addressing it in their class in a delicate, comfortable way so students can think critically without getting clouded by defensiveness and knee-jerk reactions.”

Mattes’s research in the Adams Academy will include a tie-in between her own work in animal studies and the college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. “I’m working on methods for ‘Animalizing the Classroom,’” Mattes explains. “I’ll be exploring how we can further address key DEI content from the perspective of not only other cultures, but other species.” 

Working with other Adams fellows will allow Mattes to discuss ideas and best practices for pursuing her research and tying it into her teachings. She hopes that exploring deep issues such as racism through animal-centered examples will create a more comfortable environment for students to ease them into more serious conversations about diversity.

“Hearing about how others approach contemporary topics would be fantastic,” Mattes said. “I know others will have so many suggestions and experience, and I’m excited to explore that through the Adams Academy.”

The Adams Academy fellowship begins with the upcoming academic year in August 2022 and will conclude in April 2023. For more information on the group, click here.