Spotlight On: Liz Hopwood
Elizabeth Hopwood, lecturer in the Department of English and acting director of the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, leads Loyola’s chapter of Girls Who Code, which has received a grant to continue their work in 2022.
This week’s Faculty Friday Spotlight illuminates Elizabeth Hopwood, lecturer in the Department of English and acting director of the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities (CTSDH) in the College of Arts and Sciences, who blends impactful research and teaching with running Loyola’s chapter of Girls Who Code (GWC), which just received renewed grant funding through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group.
Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization that offers free computer and coding classes to female-identifying and non-binary students in grades 6 through 12. GWC was started to help address the gender gap in technology fields. Along with undergraduate students Brianna Chou, Sinéad McKeon, and Theresa Fister, Hopwood fosters community outreach between Loyola students and area middle and high school students interested in computer science. The grant renewal allows students to continue learning the fundamentals of coding while also building skills, creativity, problem-solving capacity, and confidence.
Hopwood joined Loyola in 2016 as a lecturer in the Department of English. She has been busy ever since. She became the faculty lead for GWC in 2017, has been interim director for CTSDH since 2019, directs the MA program in Digital Humanities, and teaches courses in literature and new media in the English department. Her research focuses on digital humanities and design, food writing, and nineteenth-century American and Atlantic literature.
“The commitment of the College to interdisciplinarity and gender equity in the sciences is exemplified in the work of Liz Hopwood,” says Peter J. Schraeder, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. “Her outstanding leadership of the Girls Who Code program is fostering the emergence of a new generation of scholars. Digital humanities is the door through which these students enter, learn valuable skills, and discover new ways of learning and new ways of intellectual engagement.”
Digital humanities is an energetic academic field that applies computational tools and methods to traditional humanities disciplines such as literature, history, and philosophy. GWC at Loyola emphasizes that computing is a creative and fun endeavor full of possibilities. Loyola undergraduate and graduate students act as mentors, building community under a motto of “Brave, not perfect.”
The program aligns closely with the CTSDH’s objective to strengthen the University’s position as a leader in social justice through innovative digital humanities approaches. Students put their coding skills to practice by building websites, apps, games, and physical computing robots. Examples of projects they have executed include a robotic personal safety alarm, a robotic seeing-eye dog, a website on cyber bullying, and a website on awareness of educational injustice.
Since going virtual during the covid-19 pandemic, Girls Who Code at Loyola has been able to reach students in schools all across Chicago, including students who would have difficulty traveling to the Lake Shore Campus in Rogers Park. Undergraduate teaching fellows serve as classroom instructors and work together to develop and deploy curriculum, while undergraduate volunteers join them every semester to work hands-on – or “screens-on” – with the students.