Teaching Philosophy

For a more detailed teaching statement in .pdf form, click here.

My teaching practice is driven by two core principles I have learned through experience teaching in an interdisciplinary studies program at a metropolitan comprehensive university ranked the fifth most diverse in the nation by US News and World Report. First, students are most motivated and learn most effectively by collaboration, with their professor acting as a guide to inquiry. Second, students accomplish most when they are motivated by their own experiences to ask questions, but are helped to step outside those experiences through content and through teaching methods that foster discussion, empathy, and productive disagreement.

Although there are many methods for teaching that may support these general principles, I have enjoyed most success through the Team Based Learning (TBL) method, best demonstrated by my successful reorganization of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program’s introductory course around an investigation of the situation of the American middle class. This course begins with a critical evaluation of competing contemporary perspectives on the extent and causes of a perceived “middle class squeeze.” This introduces topics pursued through interdisciplinary readings and discussions in the remainder of the course, including the sociological concept of stratification, the history of public support for home ownership and mass consumption, the relationship of gender and racial identity, and of place, to access to material, symbolic, and emotional resources, and the political-economic changes affecting inequality, mobility, and security since the 1970s.

I have also developed active learning courses for upper-division undergraduates incorporating historically grounded interdisciplinary investigations of metropolitan environmental justice, race and ethnicity in contemporary society, and the historical development of metropolitan Atlanta. More information about these courses can be found at my profile pages at Academia.edu and Chronicle Vitae.