teaching philosophy

My teaching reflects a commitment to building relationships both within and beyond the classroom. I engage students through an interdisciplinary perspective that invites them to forge connections with course material and their experiences in the world around them. Drawing on the complementary links between my research and teaching, I encourage students to apply their knowledge outside the classroom by connecting with local communities and pursuing their own intellectual interests. My approach is both iterative and reflexive and I am well prepared to provide students with a rigorous education relevant to their lives.

In the classroom, I draw from a range of disciplines, including geography, history, political economy, and ethnic studies. I teach geography not as an object of analysis but as an approach to understanding the world that connects multiple disciplines, methodologies, and topics. When appropriate, I include audio and visual materials in class to animate key concepts. For example, when teaching about the spatial politics of identity, I utilize songs and music videos to explore how artists link race, class, and gender to specific spaces and places. This interdisciplinary perspective and inclusive teaching design accommodates different types of learning while drawing connections between various approaches.

I also urge students to bring their own understandings and unique experiences into the classroom. In our discussion on place-making and belonging, for example, I ask students to map campus spaces they feel are racialized or gendered. Encountering other students’ experiences and perspectives nurtures discussion and is a key teaching strategy I employ in the classroom. I also cultivate active connections between the course material and students’ everyday lives outside the classroom. Drawing on social media and current events, I emphasize the applicability and relevance of the content we discuss in class. For example, when teaching about neoliberalism and the environment, I utilize news footage and Twitter feeds to discuss industry deregulation in recent oil spills.

My research background supports my approach to teaching in three key ways. First, my experiences conducting fieldwork in Mexico and Central America enable me to provide students with case studies and rich ethnographic detail from the field. In class, I draw from these concrete examples to discuss topics such as borders, transnational migration, and social movements. Second, I press students to extend their learning beyond the classroom by connecting with nearby communities. For instance, when teaching about labor and consumption, I incorporate local examples about immigrant workers on dairy farms in upstate New York. I am also prepared to develop service-learning opportunities for students to work closely with community organizations and apply their knowledge outside the classroom. Third, I encourage students to pursue their own intellectual and political curiosities by requiring them to design a hypothetical research project as a final assignment. Working hands-on with students, I help them connect course concepts to their individual interests by asking them to develop a research question and how they would answer it.

Teaching, like learning, is a difficult, iterative, and reflexive process, and I have benefitted from sharing and discussing classroom strategies with my students, colleagues, and mentors. At Syracuse University, I participated in the Future Professoriate Program, a university-wide program dedicated to preparing graduate students for teaching in higher education. On campus, I worked closely with the Posse Foundation, a college access program for low-income youth, to attend pedagogical seminars and retreats supporting first-generation students of color. These opportunities have made me a stronger educator and better colleague.