2015-16 Joseph R. Accinno Faculty Teaching Award recipient.

My Pedagogy

My teaching philosophy embraces a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. My primary goal as a teacher is to encourage students to become critical consumers of knowledge. To this end, I ask students to engage in reasoned inquiry and self-reflection regarding the various values, beliefs, attitudes, and habits that define the nature and quality of life for minoritized individuals

 

I use cluster-learning groups as a means of allowing students the opportunity to think and do. We often start the class with a question, or series of questions, based on the readings. Students then work in small groups to critically answer the question. Students tend to respond well to this and those who normally think of themselves as quiet find ways of comfortably contributing. Additionally, I present materials using a spiral technique. The materials presented at the beginning of the semester consistently reappear and are integrated throughout the semester.  Consequently, no one topic is covered in isolation; this gives students multiple opportunities to see relationships and develop arguments from multiple perspectives.

 

To further encourage active learning I use a number of in-class and out of class exercises. For example, in my Race, Gender, and Public Policy course, which focused on HIV/AIDS, students engage in an experiential project to develop and implement an AIDS Education/Prevention Project. This has proven to be one of the better exercises that allow students and me to meet the goal of becoming critical consumers of information.

Video of students reflecting on my teaching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGpBdyebX7o

 

Courses

From Selma to Ferguson and Beyond

This course explores the Black Diasporic responses to state violence. We pay particular attention to the politics of Blackness, writing, theorizing and representation, and its relationship to historical and contemporary movements for autonomy, equality, freedom, justice, and self-determination. As we grapple with the multiple manifestations of “violence”, for example, physical, structural and symbolic forms, we will also address the meaning of rage and it’s manifestations, including its physical, structural and symbolic forms.

Introduction to Black Studies

This is the study of the peoples of the Black Diaspora—their experiences and responses to the cultural, economic, and social production of “Blackness.” A central purpose of the course is to introduce you to the field of Black Studies with the goal of helping you develop and understanding of and appreciation for the complexity of race, gender, class, and discrimination in economic and democratic societies and notions of freedom. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course is designed to introduce you to and provide you with the tools to understand the issues pertinent to the Black Diaspora in general and Black Americans in particular.

Women and Politics

This course examines the ways in which issues pertaining to gender are salient to politics in the United States. Through a careful investigation of theoretical and empirical literature and systematic observations of our own, we will try to understand why politics is frequently experienced differently for men and women. As such we will explore multidimensional aspects of gender and political life in America. We will cover three general themes:
1. How gender influences political behavior and public policy
2. How women have challenged the political status quo
3. The intersection of gender, race, class, and sexuality in the transformation of U.S. Politics

Race, Gender and Public Policy: The Politics and Policy of AIDS

Intersectionality, as an analytical tool, has offered us a means of discussing the multiple oppressions faced by Black women and women of color in the US context. In this class, we borrow from the many tenets of intersectionality to understand how various marginalized communities confront the challenges of HIV/AIDS. A central goal of this course is to expose students to key policy and theoretical issues and concerns arising from the tropes of class, gender, and race and their intersections in American society. Using HIV/AIDS as a case study, we explore policy framing, targeting, and impacts affecting those who operate from a social position that is influenced by the hierarchies of race, class and gender. We will employ a critical gender and race lens in our explorations.

 Critical Feminisms

This course is an introduction to critical thinking on the intersection of race and gender and other components of social identity from an interdisciplinary perspective. It addresses and responds to the unique challenges of the inter-relationships and intra-relationships of women of color with feminism and political practices. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the complexity of Arab women, Black women, Chicana/Latina women, and Asian American/Pacific Islander women by studying and analyzing their knowledge production, creative expressions, experiences of oppression and their resistance. We will investigate questions of identity and belonging in relation to topics such as the politics of reproduction, the family and the state, colonialism, sexuality, and citizenship. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss why we study “theory” and explore the relation between critical feminist theories and political praxis.