Teaching: Approaches & Goals
My courses develop the same themes and approaches as my research. At both undergraduate and graduate levels, I incorporate theoretical and empirical material that illustrate and build understandings of development and restructuring processes across the Americas. My courses are designed to encourage students to think of the Americas as integrally connected through historical and contemporary political and economic relationships. I draw on development studies to identify social, cultural, economic and political issues and processes that have broad reach and relevance across the Americas.
I approach teaching and learning as student-centered activities, believing that students must be committed to the design of their own education. Undergraduate students in my classes engage in active-learning in a variety of settings, including group work in lab sections and particularly through service-learning. I encourage graduate students to engage their research ideas through empirical fieldwork, and to gain hands-on experience with proposal writing and professional publishing. Ultimately, the goal of my teaching is to engage students as citizens and as intellectuals who are addressing some of the pressing issues of their times.
For more information, please refer to my courses page.
Administrative Roles & Philosophy
I have served in a variety of administrative positions, ranging from department chair, to member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Geographical Sciences, to President of the Association of American Geographers. I believe that administrative work is an important element of professional service for our Department, our campus and also in the discipline at large. In each of these positions, I have worked collaboratively to identify areas of importance and to guide initiatives that were important to the collectives with which I worked.
As department chair, I worked with members of the department to identify several important initiatives. For example, we underwent a thoughtful and successful ten year review process. We worked to revision our graduate program; build a vision for our future development and community outreach activities; design and engage in a strategic planning process; build our web presence to communicate widely about the department; and build on an ongoing curriculum assessment project. In all of these projects, members of the department worked together to foster open communication, to consult widely and to create an environment that is supportive of good ideas, from whichever quarter. From all of this work I have learned that service involves trying to build a ‘culture of possibilities’ that allows creative people to do their best work.
For more information on my administrative roles and positions, please refer to my curriculum vitae.