I love to teach, but I am still new to leading entire courses on my own (as opposed to being a TA). As such, my teaching philosophy is fairly open and experimental. I try to read about different teaching techniques and attend workshops regularly so that I can expand my toolbox of instructor strategies. I occasionally run a single lecture in a different style (e.g. slides available ahead of time, flipped classroom) to try out new approaches, but I also draw upon the expertise developed by previous instructors of the same courses. Some strategies I have come to like include: polling students (by a show of hands) during class, sharing something fun (e.g. a relevant webcomic or a flash game) at the beginning or end of class, and making it mandatory for each student to visit me during office hours at least once.
In general, I lean towards being as open and accessible to students as possible. This means encouraging them to ask me questions (and provide feedback on my teaching) in person, through email, and via online discussion forums. I am also happy to spend extra time with individual students to go over assignments or review material for exams.
When students come to class late or hand in low-quality work, I tend to believe that they understand their own responsibilities and do not benefit from scolding. This is not to say that there are no rules for my classes or assignments, but rather that I try to make sure guidelines are understood in advance and generally trust students to follow them. Of course, I am in a fortunate position, having never taught more than one section at a time - it is possible that with more students or more classes, I would find it necessary to limit my availability and impose additional rules.
POLS 111: Democracy in Canada and the United States
This course introduces students to the different systems of government, and explains how they work by drawing on Canada and the US as examples. It also discusses political culture and organization (i.e. the ways that people participate in politics).
INTS 100: Strategies for Academic Success
Students begin this course with self-reflection about their scholarly strengths and weaknesses. They are then exposed to a range of strategies for time management, reading, studying, writing, and critical thinking, supported by a basic knowledge of cognition and a bit of psychology.
Opportunities for new instructors can be scarce, so I am very interested in developing my teaching ability through guest lectures. Particularly, I would like to get some experience with upper-year or graduate-level classes, with courses central to my research interests (e.g. those focusing on public policy and science studies), and with related subjects that might develop my general expertise (e.g. geography, environmental studies, political science, biology). In this regard, I believe I am capable of offering the following lectures to interested instructors (these might also be suitable as public talks for interested organizations):
"Chaos of the Policy Process" - In reality, policy-making is not the rational and orderly activity we might expect it to be. Rather, decision opportunities arise based on a combination of factors that are rarely predictable. A particularly useful model of this process is John Kingdon's theory of policy streams. [Suitable for courses on environmental management or decision-making, such as ENVS 401, ENVS 804, ENVS 808, GEOG 385, or BIOL 470.]
"Discussion, Debate, and Deliberative Democracy" - Many controversial issues give rise to town-hall meetings, public debates, stakeholder consultations, and protest events. Can these forums be set up to minimize rhetoric and misinformation, leading to productive exchanges or even consensus? [Suitable for courses on public perspectives or multiple sources of knowledge, such as ENVS 807, ENVS 811, ENVS 832, GEOG 240, or GEOG 381.]
"How Society Sees Science" - Academic researchers often wonder why their expertise isn't taken more seriously by policy-makers and the public. Understanding social perspectives on science as well as incentives of the mass media can help researchers to communicate their findings more effectively. [Suitable for natural science courses with some focus on broader social relevance, such as ENVS 201, ENVS 801, GEOG 125, BIOL 301, or BIOL 410.]
"Lessons from Science, for Policy and Society" - Social and political debates are often characterized by misinformation and rhetoric. The basics of the scientific method can offer guidance for understanding and interpreting the complex mess of available information. Might this lead to evidence-based policy? [Suitable for social science courses with some focus on public policy or social controversy, such as POLS 226, POLS 307, POLS 328, SOC 227, or SOC 246.]
"The Climate Consensus" - In some areas of society, the issue of human-caused climate change is still controversial. Are the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) enough to warrant action? How has the scientific consensus changed over time? Does it still matter today? [Suitable for courses on climate change or other science-related controversy, such as ENVS 822, ENVS 826, GEOG 233, GEOG 280, or SOC 430.]
"A Wicked Problem: Barriers to Climate Policy" - As a political problem, climate change is complicated by its interdisciplinary, interjurisdictional, and intertemporal aspects. As such, what are the major barriers to global action on the issue? Do some of these barriers require more attention today? [Suitable for courses on climate change or other studies of policy change, such as ENVS 804, ENVS 826, GEOG 385, POLS 226, or POLS 326.]