Teaching objectives

My overarching goal in the classroom is to make meaningful connections between the lives of my students and the discipline of political science. To accomplish this, I aim to be relatable, invested, and enthusiastic about teaching as well as to create a classroom environment that values respectful dialogue and free inquiry.  

Classes taught as instructor of record

Listed below are courses that I have taught (or am teaching) as instructor of record along with a brief description of each course. Please inquire for copies of syllabi. 

GOVT 101 Democratic Theory and Practice (George Mason University)

This course is an introduction to the study of politics, political science, and political philosophy that centers primarily on democracy—its core ideas, defining characteristics, and formal and informal institutions. I stress throughout the course that, although the term “democracy” is widely used in contemporary political discourse, its meanings and specific features are and have been deeply contested in reality. This course seeks to address precisely that discrepancy by engaging primary texts in political philosophy that situates the study of democracy in historical context. Special emphasis is placed on discussing democracy against theories of the state, competing forms of political organization and legitimacy, and the more current and pressing issue of populism.

 

POL 101 Introduction to Political Science (Manchester CC)

The course focuses on the major theories, concepts, approaches, and enduring questions in the study of politics and government. Students become familiar with the analytical tools used in the examination of political issues and problems and engage with the major ideas of political science through primary texts. Because this was a smaller section, each class was divided into a lecture followed by a discussion. A midterm exam, a combination of multiple choice and short answer, and a take home essay final complemented two critical response essays after reading and discussing Machiavelli’s The Prince and Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto

GOVT 103 Introduction to American Government (George Mason University)

The course is an introduction to the structure and processes of American government. It is divided into three sections. In the first section, we lay a theoretical foundation for the existence of government and discuss several historical features of the American political system. In the second section, we examine several key institutions of American government such as the Presidency, Congress, and the Courts. In the third section, we explore behaviors associated with government and the mechanisms by which political behaviors are expressed (i.e. voting, parties, interest groups, etc.). Being an introductory course in American politics (and taken by a wide variety of majors), my overall objective for the course was to stimulate students’ curiosity about government and politics and to encourage students to be informed, critical, and active citizens. To accomplish this, I stressed the importance of developing a good base of knowledge and understanding about the institutions that form the American government, the incentives of political actors, and the interactions between the two.

 

GOVT 133 Introduction to Comparative Politics (George Mason University)

This course introduces students to the central concepts, themes, and questions in comparative politics. Focus is placed on comparative politics as a major subfield of political science, a subfield that focuses on the internal dynamics of states—state formation, political regimes, institutions, political economy, development, etc.—and builds and tests theories that explain and predict political behavior. The overarching goal of this introductory level course in comparative politics is to provide students with the tools to think more critically and analytically about the world. Added to that, I want students to be able to identify the major theoretical approaches and key conceptual debates within the field, understand the role of science in explaining human behavior, and devise their own analytical and practical responses to global problems and issues.

GOVT 300 Problem Solving and Data Analysis (George Mason University)

This course was the required methods component for the undergraduate major in political science. I served as the course teaching assistant for three semesters before being offered to teach my own section of the newly deployed online-hybrid format course. The course teaches the basic scientific methodology used by contemporary political scientists and the underlying logic of hypothesis testing. Students develop experience with contemporary statistical software, mathematical models of human behavior, and the ethics of conducting research on human subjects. The course also fulfills the general education requirement for information technology. More specifically, the course is designed to do more than give students some rudimentary background on how to “crunch numbers”. While students are expected to do significant work with data as well as using contemporary statistical software, I stress that there is so much more to empirical political science than simply the math. Where we do use math, often the computers will do much of the heavy lifting, and where calculations are required of students, there will be no problems so intractable they cannot be solved with any more aid than the use of a hand calculator, some paper, and a pencil.

 

PS 340 Political and Economic Ideologies (Tabor College)

The goal of this course is to understand political and economic ideas in terms of their first principles and presuppositions about the world. Ideas can have profound political and social consequences by motivating individual and group behavior. Ideas with this effect are considered ideologies: sets of ideas and beliefs that people hold about political power, institutions, and the relationships between individuals, groups, and  governments. Political ideologies allow people to simplify political and social life. They either justify or challenge political regimes. Notably, ideology is a product of modern, mass politics. Indeed, the 20th century can be comprehended as a brutal battleground for sets of ideas that still shape contemporary policy debates. Given this, we approach ideologies in each one’s appropriate context, including its historical development, its major tenants, and its applications to the political world and contemporary society. The aim of this course is to present ideologies as they are understood by their founders/believers, together with criticisms made by their opponents. 

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