As a historian, among the challenges I pose for students is to see the links between the past and the present, not simply in events or individuals, but also in concepts and major historical questions in order to encourage deeper, more personal engagement with the past. I try to avoid allowing students to draw too many direct parallels between any particular era and our own, as incidents are contingent on countless factors that are not directly reproduced here and now. Instead I seek to have them problematize their world and all that goes on in it.
In my classes, I immerse students in primary documents and encourage them to develop their own critical analyses and become historical thinkers. Research suggests people acquire a greater skill set by working with information rather than simply absorbing it, so I keep the lecturing to a minimum and students spend more time actively working with materials and each other during class hours. In the process, students find their own voices and grow confident in their abilities. The skills they develop–the ability to critically read a document, to understand it in context, to offer argument and counter-argument, and to communicate in writing–transfer to a range of other life experiences such as participating in active citizenship, penning corporate reports, and producing museum exhibits.
Currently I offer classes on American women’s history, civil rights history, African American history, women’s movements, American cities, and general surveys of the American past. You can see a stellar example of my student work on their blog from HIST 200 (American Cities), called “The Murder of Ada Brown.”
If you’re interested in working with me, check out the University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut, where I am an associate professor. We are a women’s undergraduate college, with a co-ed adult program.