I approach undergraduate teaching as a form of public anthropology. Although some of my students will become professional anthropologists, many more will take only a single anthropology course, and I aim to make anthropology accessible to this broad audience.
My classes encourage all students, whether they are anthropology majors or not, to use an anthropological approach to think critically about contemporary issues and to develop an informed perspective from which they can participate in public life. A variety of materials and classroom activities assist along the way. Students read scholarly articles and ethnographies as well as op-ed pieces, newspaper stories, personal narratives, and novels. They participate in discussions in class but also interview friends and neighbors, visit unfamiliar areas of the community, and conduct mini-ethnographies that offer an opportunity to apply new observational and analytical skills.
I also seek opportunities for students to learn outside of the classroom, assisting students with the organization of campus activities, organizing local excursions to museum exhibitions, archaeological sites, and community events, and accompanying students farther afield on short-term study abroad experiences.
Anthropology offers important insights into some of today’s most important issues, and whether in class or outside of it, I encourage students to reflect on their own taken-for-granted assumptions, to consider what the world looks like from another position in it, and to develop an anthropological perspective that will last beyond their time in the university.
2017, Dean’s Honoree for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine
2017, Teaching Assistant Professional Development Award, University of California, Irvine
2014, Teacher of the Year Award, Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC)
Image credit: Jacob Lawrence, “The Library” detail, 1960