Society and Politics in India
State Formation and Nation Building in Africa
Global Relations in Africa
Issues in Independent Africa
Peace and Conflict Studies
Western Political Thought
Gender and Politics:
Gender and Politics
Women and Violence
I bring a wide variety of teaching and life experiences into a classroom that inform my pedagogical strategies. Having worked with undergraduate and graduate students, and at institutions in India, Nepal, Italy, and the United States, I have learned that students’ diversities of backgrounds, needs, and interest are one of the richest resources that a professor can have in a classroom. Early in my academic career, I understood strong student performance monolithically. As I have gained experience in a wide variety of contexts, I have developed a strong toolbox of methods to cater to the specific needs and interests of culturally and ethnically diverse student bodies without compromising academic standards. In this context, I see a professor as charged first and foremost with connecting with diverse students’ backgrounds and needs to help them get the most out of the courses that they are offered.
As such, collaborative learning is the central pillar of my approach to teaching. My courses have featured and will continue to feature frequent teacher-student interactions in the form of lively and pointed discussions. To me, classroom discussions cover, but cannot be limited to, identifying and analyzing the key points of the assigned readings. Instead, classroom activities and discussions should challenge students to take their analysis of the readings as a starting point to apply them – either directly to the subject at hand or more broadly through critical thinking and analysis. My discussions and activities, then, focus on application and problem-solving, looking to develop students as problem-solvers and stimulate original thinking.
As the substance of my classroom activities focus on the students as thinkers, I have come to pay close attention to thinking about the ways in which the form of classroom activities needs to complement their substance. In my view, the best classroom activities engage a wide variety of types of learners, and students from a wide variety of backgrounds, in common tasks. This requires the use of different tools that cater to different learning stimulants. To accomplish this, I supplement lectures and discussions with audio-visual material, employ case studies, and engage students in simulations and role-play.
Perhaps for these reasons, courses that I have taught – large and small; graduate, undergraduate, and professional, have been well-received. A comment that I have received consistently is that my classes are accessible to the students in them – that the curriculum starts from their experiences and what they know and then moves on to add new information.
It is building on this momentum that I look forward to the next phase of my teaching career. My diverse professional experiences have made my time in classrooms sporadic over the last few years, and I am anxious to get back to spending more time with students. In coordination with a number of colleagues working on efforts to diversify and decolonize syllabi, I have revised syllabi on Comparative Politics and Gender and Politics to more accurately reflect the substance and diversity of those fields in 2020. I am working on updating other (sample and hopefully future) syllabi along these lines.
Turning diverse classrooms into rich learning environments inclusive of all student constituencies has become central to my view of pedagogy. I am interested in the complicated but ultimately essential project of making the work that students read more substantively and representationally diverse while enriching the tools that they take away from the courses that they take. Pairing inclusion and collaboration in classrooms, I believe, is key to my continued growth as an educator and students’ continued positive experiences in (my) classrooms.