Kevin Gannon - Radical Hope - APEX

Kevin Gannon

January 20, 2022
The Great Hall

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Kevin Gannon's teaching, research, and public work (including writing) centers on critical and inclusive pedagogy; race, history, and justice; and technology and teaching.

He serves as Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) and as a Professor of History at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he has taught since 2004.

His book, Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto, was published by West Virginia University press in Spring, 2020, as part of their Teaching and Learning in Higher Education series, edited by James M. Lang. He is currently writing a textbook for the US Civil War and Reconstruction eras that's grounded in settler-colonial theory for Routledge. He writes for Vitae (a section of The Chronicle of Higher Education), and my essays on higher education have also been published in Vox and other media outlets.

He endeavors to bring passion, humor, and interactivity to his audiences. He is delighted to work with smaller groups of students, individual classes, or selected groups of faculty and staff on campus visits. You can find him on Twitter: @TheTattooedProf.


On January 20, Kevin Gannon was the guest speaker at SUU’s premier event series, APEX. This event was a collaboration with SUU’s Center for Teaching and Innovation.

Gannon serves as Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Professor of History at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. He released a book in 2020 called Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto which inspired his APEX lecture.

A question that began Gannon’s talk was, “how do we preserve hope in an environment which is now being shaped by this thing [Covid19]?”

Lately, many people think in fear. Gannon said, “when we make decisions based in fear, we often get to places that we do not wish to go. When we arrive at those places it’s clear that we are in a place that is neither working for us or for our students, yet there we are.”

Gannon believes that, “higher education is uniquely and powerfully positioned to be that agent of change. We are a space of possibilities.”

Gannon declared that educators must “produce meaningful change where we better serve all of our students, not just some. We should design courses for students, not in spite of them. Let’s create spaces that foster meaningful and genuine presence.”

Hope is key for a better world. Gannon explained that “powerful revolutions start from changing one's mind. Because when we change our mind, what is our mind capable of conceiving? Our failure as a society today is that we cannot imagine better, we cannot imagine different.”

Gannon expressed that “there is a sacred trust of higher education. We can provide a model, an actual living breathing example of what it means to do this. We are smart people, doing smart things in smart communities. We can imagine different, we can imagine better. That is an ethic of hope.”

Leaving the audience with some final thoughts, Gannon encouraged everyone to “commit radical acts of hope. That is how we get forward, that is how we get through.”


Audio Transcript