TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

In my classroom, I am motivated to create a space where my students can make important and necessary demands of themselves and of me regarding how to critique and unpack the social world. I aim for my classes to be able to “collectively imagine” ways to break down social boundaries. In fact, it was in an introductory sociology class that I first found myself able to develop the skills to think critically and thoughtfully about the world around me. With the tools sociology provided, I was able to question social norms and rethink my own identity and my position in society. My own intellectual journey informs my overall teaching philosophy, where I center student learning and engagement with critical, intersectional, and historically informed analysis of the social world.

To accomplish this, I rely upon collaborative-learning, peer teaching, discussion, and case studies-based techniques. Central to my teaching method is the use of discussion, reflection and independent research assignments, as well as student-led debates. By allowing students to apply their knowledge to real-world phenomena and to reflect upon their relationships to others, I push students to draw connections between course concepts, their own experiences, and contemporary social issues, as well as to develop better written and verbal communication skills.

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RACE AND RACISM (RACE AND MINORITY GROUP RELATIONS)

A sociological introduction to understanding the construction of race and racism in the United States, this course focuses on the dynamics between people of various racial and ethnic groups, as well as how these groups interact with, and within, social institutions such as government, families, mass media, and schools.

Course readings and lectures will introduce students to perspectives on privilege, power, representation, diversity, and (in)equality, emphasizing how logics around race and ethnicity shape our experiences and understandings of (as well as exposure to) contemporary issues regarding immigration, the achievement gap, housing discrimination, criminal justice, and environmental pollution. The class will be concerned with the role that race and racism (and the broader social structure) plays in the reproduction of inequality.

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CULTURE AND SOCIETY IN THE UNITED STATES

Exploring the meanings of culture in contemporary U.S. society, this course addresses cultural representation, cultural products, and cultural (re)production. Course readings and lectures will introduce students to sociological, feminist, critical race, and queer theoretical perspectives on “taste” (also known as cultural capital), power, and cultural representation, emphasizing how culture shapes our experiences and understandings of socially constructed phenomena such as class, race, sexuality, and gender. The class will be concerned with the role culture/cultural representation plays in the reproduction of inequality and, therefore, will ask students to turn a critical lens toward the cultural practices and representations around them, particularly in regard to current events.

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CRITICAL RACE THEORY (GRADUATE)

Since the 1980s, critical race theorists have presented alternative perspectives that seek connections between race, gender, class, sexuality, and the law. By investigating the facets of white supremacy and its subordination of non-white racialized social groups, critical race theorists aim to present analyses of power differentials in order to both encourage and participate in collective action that challenges such power differentials. To expand upon and contrast the initial perspectives on critical race theory offered by scholars such as Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Mari Matsuda, and Dorothy E. Roberts, we will discuss questions related to the nature and process of global white supremacy, tracing how modern iterations of race and racism have evolved. This course will engage with a variety of texts that provide a “critical” approach to theorizing race, ethnicity, racism, colonialism and nationalism in a primarily Western context.

Many of the readings this semester will stem from academic movements that built the foundations of fields such as critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, and postcolonial theory, among others. Attention will be given to how the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class are experienced both within and outside the U.S., and how such experiences and their theorizations challenge hegemonic racial constructions and their consequences.

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BLACK FAMILIES IN AMERICA

This course explores various social and cultural dynamics of Black family life in the United States and to an extent, in other parts of the Americas (inclusive of Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America). Readings and other course materials will provide an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how race, class, gender, and sexuality shape the historical and contemporary representation, creation, and reproduction of Black families, as well as providing a brief introduction into the ways that social structure and public policy have affected Black families. Through course assignments and discussions, students will be encouraged to thoughtfully critique pathologizing narratives and logics about Black families in the U.S. and beyond.

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AMERICAN DILEMMAS

Focusing on the principles and methods of sociology, as well as those of political science and economics, this course teaches students to analyze current social problems. Class discussions and assignments are structured to encourage students to address the meaning of individual and public responsibility as well as to define the common good. The importance of identifying conflicting values in defining social problems and their solutions is an integral part of the course. Specifically, this course will expose students to a critical-theory informed approach to historical and contemporary social problems; thus, students will be expected to identify and critique social systems and structures within the United States that facilitate the widespread inequality that we observe as a result of structural racism, sexism, xenophobia, heteronormativity, state-sanctioned violence, and inequitable division of resources and social power. Students will be expected to turn a critical lens toward the cultural practices of, as well as discourses, logics, and representations around, the so-called social “dilemmas” in American society.