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Teaching

This page provides an overview of my teaching, including course outlines, pedagogy, teaching aids, and student evaluations, developed at the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria.

Course Outlines

The following two courses are based on my research. The first is a theory course on violence and nonviolence in political thought (“Centralized Force and Nonviolent Resistance”) and the second course examines case studies of unarmed struggle in the Middle East (“Civil Resistance in the Middle East”). I have taught variations of each three times. Here are the most recent:

          

Statement of Teaching Philosophy

My pedagogy makes complex and often controversial course material accessible to a wide range of students, as indicated by exceedingly positive student evaluations (summarized below and available in full upon request). As an educator, I insist that the classroom is a safe space for students and perspectives of all kinds, because respectful dialogue is often a precondition for an open mind. Yet learning also requires challenging our assumptions, tolerating argument and opposition, and, sometimes, becoming unsettled.

My lectures are supplemented with multimedia and open discussion. I typically begin by speaking to the day’s topics, often with PowerPoint presentations, sometimes using photos from my fieldwork, as well as diverse Internet resources, including Google Images, TED talks, and academic events posted online. When texts require careful reading, such as classics of theory, I find students more engaged when I project annotated copies onto the big screen for discussion, rather than reading and talking from behind a book. To demystify abstract ideas and familiarize far-away problems, I offer relatable examples and analogies. To stimulate thought and discussion, I implicate topical political issues, draw on news stories, and pose ‘devil’s advocate’ questions. To encourage students to work through opposing viewpoints, I juxtapose contrary arguments. For example, in teaching about power and conflict, I couple the arguments of Gandhi with Machiavelli, or Gene Sharp with Thomas Hobbes. I also think it is important to emphasize to students that sometimes identifying problems and questions can be just as important, if not more so, than arriving at solutions and answers.

Forthrightness about my own relation to the course material also fosters student engagement. For pedagogical and ethical reasons, I explicitly identify my situatedness with the subject matter. As a white Christian male with a Canadian passport, I have more rights and freedom than most people in the world. As a privileged citizen of a settler-colonial state, I bear responsibility to be sensitive to power imbalances, at home and abroad, and to insist on equitable rights and freedoms for all people, especially those who are disadvantaged in part because of the policies of our own government. I have found that encouraging students to reflect on their own position in social structures and historical processes is a good first step on the path of critical thinking. I have inherited this ethos from the University of Victoria and Centre for Global Studies, where, for example, there is a vibrant Indigenous presence and public events begin with recognition of the land rights of Coast and Straits Salish First Peoples. These critical pedagogical practices are also informed by years of mentorship with James Tully, whose ethical approach to global citizenship and public philosophy continue to inspire my thought and action.

I have been developing my skills as an educator since before my first sessional appointment. Between 2010 and 2016, I was a teaching assistant for several different professors at the University of Victoria, during which time I learned to connect and engage with undergraduate students on a wide variety of academic topics. Earlier, I spent more than a year from March 2009 through May 2010 teaching English as a second language to a diverse spectrum of student groups, from South Korea to Palestine, from children to adults, from basic English to critical thinking in English, from private schools in Seoul (Plus Academy) to Palestinian refugee camps (Balata, Project Hope). These wide-ranging experiences contribute to my ongoing development as an effective, dynamic, and adaptable teacher.

Sample teaching aid

Writing Social Science Papers: Expectations and Guidelines

Student Evaluations

Summary of student evaluations (complete reports available upon request)

 

See also, my CV / Resume  (PDF).