While research has been extremely rewarding, teaching remains the main reason I entered academia. I have been teaching at John Cabot University in Rome since 2017 and with its diverse student body and small classes it has been an ideal place to engage a liberal arts curriculum. At JCU I teach introductory courses on political science and comparative politics, as well as upper level courses on Asia, gender politics and globalization.
Throughout my teaching, I balance teaching skills and empowerment with mastery of rich course material. I believe in challenging and empowering students through a variety of mediums, including the use of literature, films, policy papers, web learning, in-class case studies and simulations, internships and group projects. I strongly believe in interactive learning, and engage students directly in the classroom, using a combination of lectures, “in the news” discussions, role-play exercises, student presentations and seminars. I aim to foster critical thinking and confidence as well as develop the ability of students to better understand the world. Teaching Asia and the world more broadly across cultures often requires students to step into the unknown and move beyond stereotypes. As such, I use material that showcases diversity and often take different positions in the classroom to deconstruct simplistic frameworks. In teaching, while I place a premium on reading quality scholarship, I also have come to recognize that students often only absorb a few key points and thus close each class period by reiterating key themes. Recognizing that students learn through different means, I assign a diverse array of assignments, from analytical papers to policy briefs. I bring my first-hand knowledge of Asia based on my research and life experience directly into the classroom. The most important ingredients in my classroom are passion, respect and humor.
My teaching builds on my experience teaching undergraduates at my previous positions at Ipek University in Turkey, Singapore Management University and Hofstra University in New York and graduate students at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS in Washington DC as well as in the business school at SMU. At Ipek, I taught courses in political science drawing from my work on Southeast Asia and other parts of the developing world. In 2016, I taught Democracy and Democratization. At SMU, I taught a repertoire of eight courses that used material from a variety of disciplines. Most of my courses drew rom my training in political science and focused on Asia. The SMU courses included an introduction to political science, gender politics, Southeast Asian politics, parties and social movements and understanding Asia for corporate communication specialists for the MA program. At SAIS, my teaching was more narrowly focused on Southeast Asia and more focused on public policy. These courses include a history of Southeast Asia course, course on contention/conflict in Southeast Asia/Asia, international relations of Southeast Asia, development issues in Southeast Asia, a specialized course on Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei politics and a democracy and human rights course on Asia.
The most important people in any classroom are students. They are the future, and whose skills, understanding, hopes and aspirations we must harness and inspire. The classroom should be an arena for fulfilling dreams and I work to create the skills and frameworks for my students to achieve theirs.