As political scientists, we engage with material that is often familiar to students, but approach this material in a manner that is unfamiliar to many. My teaching philosophy begins with the recognition that for many students, my class may comprise the extent of their exposure to this unfamiliar approach. Therefore, in shaping my lectures and choosing reading assignments, I seek to provide both a systematic overview of key substantive material and an introduction to the analytical tools of political science. I believe these tools are broadly applicable even in non-academic and non-political science settings. For example, the issue of strategic selection plagues the evaluation of coercive threats, but acknowledging the force of unobservable characteristics is relevant for managers evaluating voluntary training programs in the workplace, as well. Likewise, rigorous data analysis — and the ability to spot analytical imprecision — is increasingly a prerequisite for many non-academic jobs. I also encourage and help students to be clear writers, skills I honed for two years as the director of my undergraduate alma mater‘s writing center.
Learning the analytical tools of social science is crucial for those students interested in pursuing political science either as a major or in post-graduate study. For these students, I seek to provide opportunities for deeper engagement in and out of the classroom. I believe most political science research can be engaged on multiple levels. While I seek to communicate core arguments in class, I also try to design my syllabi in a way that will encourage students to draw connections across classes, in the process fostering nascent research agendas.