As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at James Madison University, I teach primarily in the Global and Social Justice Tracks, offering courses in environmental justice, mapping, global migration, and long-term political and environmental change.
I build on inclusion and interaction to teach the complexities and coherence of Earth and its constituents. I draw on varied ideas, sources, disciplines, cultures, and places to animate course content and procedure. Each of my courses emphasizes critical analysis and the fundamentals of argumentation, and each balances didactic instruction with interactive pedagogy. With peer groups, student-led discussions, fieldwork, digital technologies, essays, and multimedia assignments, I guide students through interactive and creative learning processes. Student interaction diversifies perspectives and enhances learning through collaboration, and I find peer group discussions and written interpretations effective in all class sizes and formats. Guidance, however, remains crucial; therefore I always “close the loop” by relating classroom discussions, online activities, and field sessions directly back to readings and other course materials.
My courses engage students through diverse varieties of knowledge, theories, and tools. Digital multimedia and technologies including online Geographic Information Systems (GIS), interactive websites, podcasts, film, video clips, and other content complement more traditional materials while diversifying voices, perspectives, and places within learning experiences. I teach students to navigate content and adjudicate sources in ways that foment information literacy and sustained learning. I integrate geospatial and other digital applications into classroom instruction and online assignments to teach and encourage global and critical thinking. I train students to create their own content using free web-based apps, thereby amplifying learning beyond the classroom and into students’ everyday lives. In a Global Migration course, for example, I teach students to track global refugee and migration flows and analyze various geopolitical conflicts using Google Earth. I remain sensitive to inequalities and uneven access to personal electronics; therefore I use only open-source tools and resources in digital assignments. I also work with students individually to ensure that my courses help close rather than broaden the digital divide.
Essays of various types and lengths teach students to analyze and distill sophisticated scholarly arguments. A fiction assignment in my upper-level seminars trains students to identify and discuss course themes and theories within popular and literary works. Due regularly over the course of the semester, brief interpretive essays train students to distill and craft effective written arguments. Multimedia final projects ask students to expand on narrative arguments while developing skills in web design and digital content creation. In my Mapping Justice course, students integrate traditional academic research and writing with original cartography, infographics, timelines, videos, and story maps to create multimodal interactive websites.
I blur classroom boundaries with fieldwork assignments in courses large and small. In a general education global geography course, assignments require students to visit a local international festival and a local international grocery store. They then research and present on a cultural form they encountered in the field. In my Environmental Justice course, students are assigned service hours with local community groups working to enact social and environmental justice. A paper assignment then asks students to reflect on their fieldwork and connect it with social movements and academic theories of environmental justice discussed in class materials. Students have responded enthusiastically to those projects, which ground course work and global socio-environmental change in local action and investigation.
The examples above highlight several ways my courses combine interaction, essays, and argumentation with geospatial technologies, multimedia content creation, and local fieldwork. In general, I work to vary perspectives, tools, and methods to activate learning and connect academic content with complex global processes and diverse local communities. I look forward to collaborating with students and faculty on these and new pedagogical strategies.