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As a teacher, my objective is to perpetuate knowledge by promoting exploration and encouraging learning. More specifically, as a teacher of the social and policy sciences, I believe that my role is to create an environment where students are engaged at both a normative and empirical level with questions of power, politics, and equity in a manner that connects theoretical foundations, methodological tools, and frameworks of related subfields, disciplines, and modes of inquiry. My aim is to provide students with the methodological and theoretical foundations that enable them to engage with previous research and fundamental themes in the field, question the purpose and meaning of the social and policy sciences, analyze data, and share new knowledge with others.
In meeting these objectives, I believe successful teaching depends upon an intellectual exchange grounded in examples that are accessible to students. I utilize a flexible approach to instruction balancing lecture with applied exercises and responsive discussions to the unique nature of a given class and subject matter. I have learned that teaching in the social and policy sciences, especially in relation to the methodology of the disciplines, is similar to a foreign language. It is therefore best learned and mastered by immersion in the particular subject matter with conversational and applied exercises to extrapolate concepts to the contexts of the real world that students engage in and the professional contexts to which they aspire.
My approach to student assessment reflects these goals and objectives. I believe that an important measure of a student’s success is their capacity to critically engage the course topic from a variety of perspectives and disciplinary foundations. As such, students are expected to master the factual grasp of material and concepts as demonstrated through exams and assignments, and demonstrate familiarity with the practical application of the theoretical and methodological concepts studied in the course. In addition, research papers and culminating projects are used to assess the student’s critical thinking, research and analysis skills. I am more interested in developing a student’s capacity to question, articulate political and policy questions, argue persuasively and cogently, and disseminate new knowledge effectively rather than in the particular content of his or her conclusion. Thus, I rigorously evaluate students on these grounds.
In all aspects of my teaching I am active and deeply committed to efforts to promote diversity. This includes extensive mentoring of first-generation students and students from underrepresented groups. I am also passionately committed to promoting deeper understandings of race, ethnicity, and class as they shape opportunity structures and orient these efforts to support the facilitation of discussions on topics of social inequality and economic opportunity so as to better inform my students to become active and purposeful participants in dialogues that inform public policy, community efforts and philanthropic activity.
In the end, I believe that the goal of teaching in the social sciences is to enable students to grow as critically informed and active citizens in their communities and the world. Every student, regardless of background and level, can improve their fluency and their capacity to engage in the political and policy discourses of society. As a teacher, my goal is to increase students’ fluency in these discourses. While my passion lies in the development of methodological and analytical discourses of the social sciences specifically, my greatest source of inspiration is the opportunity to help increase a students’ capacity to influence change by developing the lenses through which they view and interpret the world around them, while at the same time helping to cultivate the tools through which they invoke change within it.