While attending a small liberal arts college as an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to work on two research projects with faculty members. One examined the consequences of mass layoffs occurring at a large manufacturing firm in the Pacific Northwest, and the other assessed the implementation of new housing policies for the homeless in Pierce County, Washington. These projects encapsulated perhaps the most vital element of a liberal arts education: what Microbiologist Martin Schwartz describes as immersion into the unknown.1 I believe students are most engaged in their higher education learning when it motivates them to grapple with the under-examined parts of their community, the untested expectations of our previous theoretical understandings, and the unsettled components of their personal character. My core pedagogical principles center on the belief that higher education is meant to move young scholars into ongoing conversations about unsolved puzzles of the social world, and that for the student-faculty relationship to be most productive in successfully doing so, it must be extended beyond the classroom setting. During my varied teaching experiences at the University of Illinois, Indiana University and the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, I have come to understand my pedagogy as composed of four key principles: cultivating deep-rooted one-on-one mentorship with students, exposing students to the practice of knowledge creation and academic research, creating an open and safe learning environment in my classroom, and emphasizing critical thinking and active engagement in course materials.
Instructor, University of Illinois
S100 - Introduction to Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (syllabus here)
S163 - Social Problems, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (syllabus here)
S196 - Locked up and locked out: incarceration and inequality in the United States, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (syllabus here)
S373 - Social Stratification, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (syllabus here)
S380 - Social Research Methods, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (syllabus here)
1 Schwartz, Martin A. (2008). "The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research." Journal of Cell Science. 121(11):1771.