As social scientists in a combined Sociology and Anthropology department at a small liberal arts institution, we approach research questions on mothering and fathering from our respective disciplines. In the summer of 2014 we made plans to experiment with a first year seminar that would bring our distinct courses together: Oware’s Man Up: Unpacking Manhood and Masculinity, and Castañeda’s Global Perspectives on Reproduction and Childbirth. In the fall of 2014, we combined our courses over two-weeks to discuss the roles of fathering and mothering in our research agendas. As we suspected, our courses were unevenly represented on their own with Oware’s class enrolling mostly men and Castañeda’s mostly women. We utilized a multidisciplinary approach to ask students to unpack the use of the phrase “man up” when applied to fathering and to discuss what it means to “mother,” among many other topics. Ultimately the decision to bridge our courses opened the door to many more questions that have only enriched our research, department, and class content on mother and father studies.

In the remainder of this essay we discuss our individual research to illustrate two of the ways we introduce mother and father studies to our students. We begin with an assessment of fatherhood in rap music and progress to discussing doulas and mothering. Specifically, Oware focuses on the constructions of fathering in rap music and Castañeda’s work examines how doulas force us to rethink how we understanding mothering through their work. This is followed by an analysis of a case study on how students in our departmental proseminar course responded to questions on mothering and fathering. Finally, we include a reflection on how bridging mother and father studies impacts our department, students, and our own personal lives.

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Copyright © 2016, Journal of Motherhood Studies. This article first appeared in Journal of Motherhood Studies, Issue 1.