Monsters: A Unique Focus for Otterbein Science FYS Class

Posted Oct 29, 2021

By Payton Kaufman ’24 

The spookiest season of all is upon us, and first-year students are learning about monsters – both fictional and real-life examples – in Professor Robin Grote’s Monsters, Freaks, and Outcasts first-year seminar course. Grote covers everything from Frankenstein to Nazi physicians who conducted inhumane experiments. 

Robin Grote
Robin Grote

The lessons go deeper than the surface, however. Monsters, Freaks, and Outcasts implores students to question and learn about diversity issues in the field of science.  

“We move from talking about Frankenstein’s monster into diverse representation in science,” Grote said. “We transition from science fiction to science reality.” 

Grote educates her students on the stigmas of scientists and how those stigmas impact those who are entering the field.  

“I am bothered by the narrow stereotypes of scientists in our society,” Grote said. “The mad scientist trope, for example. I like to talk to the students about the effects of that on how society views science and who goes into science.” 

Sam Clark, a freshman in Monsters, Freaks, and Outcasts, chose the course because of his passion for science. He recognizes the work Grote is doing to push back against the stereotypes in science. 

“The combined mini-subjects we are learning about are trying to prove to people that science is more than what media may portray it as,” Clark said. “In modern media scientists are sometimes seen as the shy, male social outcasts.” 

Not all students of Grote’s are passionate about science, like Clark, at the beginning of the class. However, she hopes they leave the semester with enthusiasm for the field. 

“My goal is to give students an appreciation for who scientists really are,” Grote said. “As well as the struggles within that, specifically for minorities in the sciences.” 

No stranger to the Integrative Studies program at Otterbein, Grote not only teaches INST courses but also sits-in on the Integrative Studies Advisory Committee.  

“Integrative Studies shouldn’t be taking a normal course and watering it down to make it easier,” Grote said. “Instead it should touch on the appreciation for the field.” 

“This class is just one of many really cool classes in our INST program,” Grote said. “The INST program is a chance for students to have fun outside of their major content.”