Teaching

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AUCA students discuss Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” in their first week of class.

Although my teaching methods have been greatly influenced by John Bean’s Engaging Ideas and Maryellen Weimer’s Learner-Centered Teaching, I wouldn’t say I have any unified philosophy of teaching other than “try new things.” Here are a few things I’ve tried in the classroom:

  • For my introduction to history and philosophy of science course at the University of Toronto, I centred the course around three “controversial” topics: evolution and intelligent design, climate change, and the Efficient Market Hypothesis. I used these topics to introduce concepts from HPS “from the ground up,” rather than illustrating HPS ideas with examples as is usually done.
  • For the same class, I had students sign up to write 2 blog posts during the term, and each other student was required to respond to a post each week.
  • For my HPS class at the American University of Central Asia, I centered the astronomy and cosmology section around a student assignment to “Find your latitude and longitude using methods that would have been available in 1750”. Students had to research and construct instruments used by ancient astronomers and navigators.
  • For my First Year Seminar class at AUCA, I used an iPad to project student in-class work at the front of the class so we could collaboratively edit and discuss their work right away. This proved to be a very effective method of improving their composition skills.

Overall, my main goal in teaching is to have my students come away from the course interested in the subject matter and wanting to learn more.

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Student demonstrates using a gnomon to determine longitude.

I am proud to be a part of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), a program to provide college education to incarcerated individuals. Since 2005, BPI students have been earning full Bard College degrees, and Bard now has campuses at 6 prisons across New York State. BPI’s work has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and many others.

Teaching Experience

Course Description Dates
First Year Seminar (Bard College / Bard Prison Initiative) FYSem is a required course for all Bard freshmen. It is a reading- and writing-intensive course with a strong focus on the classics of Western literature and philosophy. For the fall term, students read Genesis, Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris, Plato’s Republic, Augustine’s Confessions, Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and selections from Martin Luther, Michel de Montaigne, and René Descartes.

I am also teaching a section of FYSem with the Bard Prison Initiative.

Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016
Economic Debates (Bard Prison Initiative) An introduction to economics for non-economists that balances between teaching economic concepts and methods, and examining philosophical and methodological debates about economics. Spring 2016
History of Economic Thought / Economic History (AUCA: ECO 107, ECO 108, ECO 110) This is a combined course in economic history and history of economic thought required for economics majors at AUCA. I focused on the theme of inequality—between countries, classes, and individuals. The economic history portion of the course focused on the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression, while the Economic Thought portion focused on Adam Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Keynes, Friedman, and Piketty. Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
History and Philosophy of Science (AUCA: NTR 105) This is an introductory course taken by most students at AUCA. I taught three units: Astronomy and Cosmology (Aristotle, Ptolemy, Islamic astronomy, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton), The Germ Theory of Disease, and Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Fall 2014, Spring 2015
First Year Seminar (AUCA: FYS 100/ FYS 211) This is a writing-intensive, seminar-based literature, philosophy, and academic writing course taken by all incoming students at AUCA. It is based on Bard’s First Year Seminar. We explored a wide range of texts including Plato’s Republic, Confucius’ Analects, Orwell’s Animal Farm, Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor”, Arendt’s “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship”, and Shelly’s Frankenstein. Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
History and Philosophy of Science (University of Toronto: HPS 100) This is an introductory course that can be taken as a science or humanities credit. I organized this course around three “controversial” areas of science: evolutionary theory, global warming, and the Efficient Market Hypothesis. Students wrote and responded to blog posts, using HPS concepts to engage with present-day debates. 2011

Teaching Assistantships (University of Toronto)

  • 2012 – HPS 200 “Science and Values”
  • 2011 – HPS 250 “Introductory Philosophy of Science”
  • 2009 – HPS 100 “Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science”
  • 2008 – HPS 255 “History of Evolutionary Biology II”
  • 2008 – HPS 253 “History of Evolutionary Biology I”