High Impact Practices
My aim in all my courses is to teach in a purposeful, practical manner, which provides students with a sense of real-world accomplishment and an understanding of why both the content and the assessment matters. I build high-impact practices, such as presentation forums, one-on-one conferences, and practical demonstrations, into my courses that emphasize how students will use the skills that I am teaching them throughout their college careers and beyond.
In the urban methods course, "Ethnography of Kenosha," I facilitated a series of outings, group interviews, and research activities which allowed students to practice ethnographic methods in the service of an ongoing project about Kenosha's downtown revitalization. Students presented their findings to members of the public in an open paper forum. Because the research question mattered to real people whom they met, they took their work seriously, and produced substantive and thoughtful research, in addition to learning important lessons about the work of public anthropologists.
In my Core courses, I craft classroom exercises around surprising possibilities for transference. We apply Stoic Philosophy to Dear Prudence letters, and Nicomachean Ethics to campus discussion of sexual consent; we categorize current political candidates according to Plato's depictions of the timocrat, democrat and tyrant. These fun hypotheticals open a world of intellectual resources to the pressing concerns of my students' own lives.
Each course, and each individual class I teach opens with a "Big Question" framing the discussion. Big Questions are the kind of enduring concerns that continue to motivate thinkers regardless of their discipline, worldview or culture of origin. "What makes a city good?" "How do we fail to see the humanity of others?" "Why do we form communities?" It is inquiry that leads to innovation, progress and ultimately, answers. By dealing in questions, I hope to habituate students into the practice of inquiry both as a way to shape their classroom discussion, as well as their own writing and research. I place the onus on them to be active participants in the classroom, to propose answers, or methods of answering, rather than affect the role of passive learners. Big Questions frame the discussion, pique their interest in the material, and inspire them to enter their own offerings in a discourse that spans cultures and millennia.
Anthropology of Ireland (Carthage College) Upcoming - The peoples and cultures of Ireland past and present. With special focus on contemporary Northern Ireland.
Mythology (Carthage College) - A comparative approach to the structure, function and meaning of classical and world mythologies, with a focus mythological futures.
Qualitative Methods in Educational Research - (Carthage College - Graduate Studies) - Approaches to research in contexts of teaching and learning.
Ethnography of Kenosha (Carthage College - J-Term) - A immersive course in urban ethnographic methods, focusing on the politics and practice of urban redevelopment in post-industrial Kenosha.
Magic, Science, Religion (Fordham University) - A cross-cultural examination of how humans attempt to know and control their universe. We explore the different answers offered by magic, science, and religions around the world.
Western Heritage I and II (Carthage College) - An exercise in collaborative reading, this writing-intensive seminar introduces students to college-level inquiry through a broad collection of literary and philosophical classics.
Contemporary Civilization I and II (Columbia Core Curriculum) - The centerpiece of Columbia's Core Curriculum, this expansive introduction critical thinking and inquiry applies great works of political philosophy to the concerns of today.
Introduction to Anthropology (Fordham, CUNY York College) - My practical approach to four-field and cultural anthropology makes heavy use of contemporary anthropological research and guided ethnographic practice. I focus my teaching on how anthropology can be used to open up intractable social issues to new voices and new angles of approach. I employ writing-intensive techniques both to teach the parameters of the form, and to examine the reproduction of bias within ethnographic writing.