Year Awarded: 2014
College of Arts and Humanities
Every course I teach is a shared learning experience, in which I serve as a mentor and guide to help students develop the knowledge, analytical and communication skills, and confidence necessary to succeed both inside the academy and in the world outside the university. The success I have had in the classroom is influenced by my view that the education process should be a mutually beneficial and respectful dialogue. I also believe that learning occurs best in an environment that both values diverse experiences, backgrounds, learning styles and interests, and encourages open communication of ideas and self-reflection.
Some of the principal aims of my courses are to relate basic historical chronologies; to describe political, social, cultural and religious institutions, trends, movements and their interrelationships; and to identify and to analyze the causes for institutional and social change over time. Providing a clear, over-arching narrative is one of my strengths. Nonetheless, I teach students to challenge the idea of a single narrative and the primary and secondary sources that shape it. I engage them to engage in broader, more philosophic discussions about the nature and practice of history, how the past impacts our lives, and how we can make knowledge of the past useful in today's world. For example, we engage in discussions and assignments that focus on issues of identity, status, power, and the universality of the human experience by comparing our own personal experiences with those found in literature from the past. In my World Civilizations courses we discuss what the concepts of race, racism and identity mean in light of historical evidence of mass movements of peoples, cultural exchange, and findings in the field of genetics-based archaeology. In my Greek and Roman history courses, we discuss issues such as the applicability of Plato's and Aristotle's concepts of "the good" to today's world; the ethics of slavery and misogyny; and using ancient texts to define or regulate modern social relations. I try to get students to challenge their own preconceptions, biases, experiences, and knowledge and to see themselves in a diverse, complex world filled with constant movements of peoples, ideas and concepts where temporal, spatial and cultural boundaries are often illusory and the past and present exist simultaneously.
My approach to History is interdisciplinary. I introduce students to a broad range of sources: literature, languages, visual arts, architecture, coinage and inscriptions of the ancient world. This background has allowed me to internationalize my teaching by conducting study abroad or taking students to my archaeological excavation at Pessinus (Ballihisar, Turkey), where I work with them to acquire hands-on experience as historians, archaeologists and cultural preservationists. I have integrated this focus on interdisciplinary into my courses, which has made my teaching more effective and student-learning more holistic and applicable to the world outside the classroom.