Teaching Philosophy

With the goal of providing excellent education to every student, in the classroom and as a mentor I aim to motivate students to engage with the material at hand, and to provide students with an environment that is both welcoming and demanding in order to inspire them to take responsibility for their own learning. In my courses, students develop into nuanced political thinkers, able to communicate their positions in both speech and writing. I push students to recognize the historical and personal roots of their core political beliefs, and to situate those beliefs among a rich collection of political thinkers in order that they may assess the value of their and others’ political ideas. I also encourage them to develop their ability to make analytical distinctions and apply those skills to political and other questions. I see political theory as a place where crucial skills of written and oral persuasion can be developed and to that end stress the importance of clear and focused written argument and open and collaborative discussion in the classroom. In recognition of excellence in Graduate Student teaching at Berkeley, I received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award for 2013-14.

Students in my courses study both primary and secondary texts, as well as works less conventionally understood to be “political theory,” such as court cases, short fiction, and news articles. For example, student understanding of political theory that bears on a contemporary political issues like climate change can be enhanced by using concepts encountered in academic theoretical texts to analyze the way those issues are discussed in the press. Similarly, study of deliberative democracy could include attending and observing community or other meetings and analyzing the effects of various rules for discussion on the power dynamics produced in the group and on the quality of any decisions produced. As a result of this kind of study, students learn to identify political arguments in a variety of forms and to mount their own political and analytical arguments. In addition, students learn to take charge of their own intellectual development by learning the confidence and skills to listen to and understand other students, ask questions, and know when to seek help. By using an assortment of discussion strategies, including student-led discussion, close reading in small groups, debates, and student presentations, I aim to provide an environment in which each student will feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, and in which they see the opportunity to develop their own skills for learning new materials and new skills. In my courses students also develop their ability to articulate and communicate their thoughts effectively, fluidly, and extemporaneously in conversation. They also improve their ability to communicate their thoughts and make clear arguments in writing. Writing skills are developed through frequent written work and extensive feedback. When possible given class sizes, I require frequent written reading responses from students in order to lower the barrier to writing and to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to practice writing efficiently and persuasively.

Teaching Interests

I am interested in teaching undergraduate courses at the introductory and advanced level in contemporary political theory and the history of political thought, especially topically-focused courses in contemporary political theory and the political thought of the late modern era. For example, I would be interested in offering courses that engage students in the study of pressing contemporary questions about the nature and value of democracy and our contemporary responsibilities for past wrongs. I would also be interested in offering courses in introductory American politics, American political thought, constitutional law and legal theory, and race and ethnic politics.

At the graduate level, I am interested in facilitating the development of graduate students into strong scholars and teachers. I would be interested in offering courses on methodological approaches in political theory, on contemporary debates in political theory, and on important texts in historical thought. For example, I would like to teach a course that asks graduate students to practice a number of different approaches to political theory and the interpretation of text, in order to acquaint them with many possibilities for approaches to research. I would also be interested in teaching topic-focused graduate courses in contemporary theories of justice and democracy, citizenship and migration, and autonomy and freedom. In keeping with my commitment to contextual political theory, I would be especially interested in advising graduate students working on projects in contemporary political theory, particularly projects that are motivated by close attention to the way theoretical problems are manifested in practical politics.

Teaching Experience

  • Graduate Student Instructor, University of California, Berkeley
    • Spring 2018: "Foundations of Modern Political Thought" (Daniel Lee)
    • Fall 2017: "Introduction to International Relations" (Amy Gurowitz)
    • Spring 2015: "History of Modern Political Thought" (Andrius Galisanka)
    • Spring 2014: "Special Topics in Political Theory: 20th Century" (Andrius Galisanka)
    • Spring 2013: "Introduction to Political Theory: What is Justice?" (Sarah Song)
  • Writing Associate, Oberlin College
    • Fall 2005, Fall 2006: "Explaining Social Power: Classical and Contemporary Theories" (Sonia Kruks)

Teaching Training and Awards

  • American Political Science Association Pedagogy Workshop, August 2017
  • Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley, completed May 2017
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, 2013-14