Tuesdays and Thursdays on the second floor of Sterling Hall, students enrolled in Gender & Women’s Studies 533: Neurobiology & Traumatic Memory can be found doodling instead of taking notes. But, unlike other lectures, the instructor does not take away participation points for notebook margin art—she encourages students to keep at it.

Sectioned into weekly topics on neurological anatomy, functions and mental health processes, the course encourages students to take notes, complete homework and interact with peers through an artistic lens. This includes drawing and sketching course material in a series of composition notebooks, according to the class syllabus.

Pairing challenging science material with an art-based teaching style is meant to help students learn the material more easily, according to course instructor Ann Fink. Fink, a visiting fellow in feminist biology in the Gender & Women’s Studies Department, started lecturing at UW-Madison after receiving her doctorate in Neurobiology at University of California-Los Angeles with a specific interest in mental health.

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