Collaborative Pedagogy: Teaching (with) the Grateful Dead On Tour, On Campus, and Online1

Rebecca G. Adams
University of North Carolina Greensboro
Greensboro, NC, USA


This essay describes my experiences teaching with the Grateful Dead “on tour” in 1989, on campus in the early 2000s, and online in 2019. Using a life course framework, I discuss how my own development as a teacher, Deadhead, and Grateful Dead scholar and the changing context over time shaped these experiences and how teaching with the Grateful Dead opened a pedagogical space for experimentation that allowed the students and me to take risks and to collaborate despite status differences. Rather than unpacking these experiences entirely, my goal here is to focus on how these three experiences of teaching with the Grateful Dead allowed me to develop and informed my pedagogical approach, particularly my use of technology in teaching. 

Keywords: Grateful Dead, popular culture, pedagogy, online teaching, technology

Author bio

Rebecca G. Adams, PhD, Professor of Sociology and gerontologist in the School of Health and Social Sciences at University North Carolina Greensboro, has published 5 books and more than 70 scholarly articles and chapters, including more than 15 on Deadheads. Deadhead Social Science: You Ain’t Gonna Learn What You Don’t Want to Know, co-edited with Robert Sardiello in 2000, was released by Roman Littlefield ( as an e-book and print-on-demand in Fall 2021. She has taught about Deadheads on tour (1989), on campus, (2000s), and online (2019); presented at the SWPACA Grateful Dead Caucus, at other professional meetings, and to student audiences; written popular press articles about Deadheads, published a fictional piece situated on Dead tour, conducted audience research for Grateful Dead Productions, and narrated Deadheads an American Subculture (1990). She attended her first Dead show in 1970.

Recommended Reference Citation


Adams, R. G. (2022). Collaborative pedagogy: Teaching (with) the Grateful Dead on tour, on campus, and online. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 9(1 & 2).


Adams, Rebecca G. “Collaborative Pedagogy: Teaching (with) the Grateful Dead On Tour, On Campus, and Online”. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 9, no. 1 & 2, 2022.

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  1. Previous versions of this chapter were presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, Zoom, August 7, 2021 and the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association, Zoom, February 25, 2021.

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