Those who teach Anthropology tend to encounter two types of students: those who are taking a course to fill a requirement (or perhaps as an “exotic” elective), and those who are interested in Anthropology as a major course of study. In either case the basic goal of the instructor is the same, to immerse the student in a learning environment that will capture their intellectual curiosity and motivate them to want to know more about how other societies and individuals live in an increasingly globalizing world. As teachers of Anthropology we are lucky to work in a field that is uniquely suited to capturing the imagination and inquisitiveness of students. After all, what inspires greater curiosity in people than discussing and learning about other people?
It is my feeling that the role of Anthropology is to demonstrate the variety of human cultural adaptations both past and present, while at the same time demonstrating the qualities and characteristics we all share in common as members of the human race. To fulfill this role I challenge students to think critically about the diversity of humankind and to move outside the comfort of their own worldview to understand how we all are interconnected and function within local, regional, and global networks.
As an instructor it has been my primary goal to tap into this curiosity and use it as a motivating force for learning. When successful, this process culminates in a student who has a practical knowledge of the principles of anthropology and a broader understanding of how and why the world around them operates as it does. The key is to inspire the curiosity inherent in every student and then to guide that curiosity toward critical reflection on why our modern world (for better and for worse) functions as it does. You might also read my Personal Statement for a broader discussion of how my research interests and scholarly activity correspond to my approach to teaching and mentoring.
At the end of the day it is critical to evaluate one’s own effectiveness as a teacher. I frequently walk out of lecture planning ways I might more effectively present an idea or group of materials to create more effective learning outcomes. It is this critical self-evaluation that has driven me to continually improve my course material and teaching techniques, experimenting often with new experiential methodologies and classroom technologies. It is a cliché, but there is always room for improvement. The danger is not in trying new techniques or formats, but in becoming complacent with the material and with teaching itself. I look forward to the opportunity to continue expanding my teaching portfolio with a wider variety of courses that effectively engage students in multivocal approaches incorporated within active learning strategies.
Michigan Tech is a research university oriented toward the STEM fields. The Department of Social Sciences ensures that students across disciplines develop critical thinking and communication skills informed by a holistic, cross-cultural, and culturally relativistic, multidisciplinary approach. In my position as an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology I contribute specifically to our undergraduate majors, in Anthropology, History, and the Social Sciences, as well as to our graduate programs in Industrial Archaeology (MS), Industrial Archaeology and Heritage (PhD), and Environmental and Energy Policy (MS and PhD). More broadly, I also teach multidisciplinary and general education courses presenting the varied methodological and theoretical frameworks of the social sciences, reflective of our diverse degree programs within the Department of Social Sciences, to students across the university.
I teach a variety of upper and lower division undergraduate courses and graduate courses here at Michigan Tech, ranging from introductory level anthropology and archaeology courses, to advanced seminars dealing with diverse methodologies and theoretical approaches across the social sciences. I have developed a series of undergraduate lower division survey and upper division seminar courses designed to contribute to diversity through global literacy and global learning for both Social Science majors and students across campus. These courses include World Peoples and Environments, Prehistory and Archaeology, Latin American Culture and History, Global Change in Culture and Society since 1400, Method and Theory in Archaeology, and Global Issues (formerly taught as World Cultures). In addition to these courses I actively mentor undergraduate students as an advisor for anthropology senior theses and I serve as the faculty advisor to the campus Anthropology Society.
At the graduate level I teach the Historical Archaeology seminar required of all Masters Students (and recommended for PhD students) in the program and I have mentored eight students through individually developed directed study courses. I am currently serving or have served as an advisor (4) or committee member (16) on 20 Master’s and Doctoral committees in the Department of Social Sciences, as well as in the Department of Humanities and Geological and Mining Engineering. I have directed four field seasons of research in Puerto Rico that to date have resulted in a Master’s thesis (with one in progress), an Anthropology Senior Thesis, and five publications that are either in print (2), accepted (2), or are in preparation (1), as well as a book manuscript on this research that is currently in preparation. I have also been conducting ongoing research in Yucatán since 1996, a program of research that will be expanded as the result of recent NSF funding. In addition, since my appointment I have collaboratively taught our department’s annual archaeology field schools, which serve both our undergraduate and graduate students, as well as students from other departments and from other universities. I have co-directed our field school with Dr. Timothy Scarlett for the last three field seasons at the local Cliff Mine site and I collaborated with other faculty members on the West Point Foundry Project (2005-2008) in Cold Spring, New York. In addition, I have also directed four seasons of field research in Puerto Rico as part of the Caribbean Industrial Heritage Program over the course of the past six years.
At the university level I am involved with the continuing development and assessment of our university global literacy and global learning initiatives, both within the general education curriculum and as part of university-wide learning goals. In service to this mission I am currently the Coordinator of the Global Issues Steering Committee, in charge of the development, administration, and assessment of the new Global Issues course; a course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of cultural awareness, knowledge, and engagement, serving as the cornerstone of a newly revamped university general education curriculum. Furthermore, I am currently the Chair of the Global Learning Committee, the committee responsible for developing a university-wide initiative for introducing and assessing global literacy pathways within the curricula of all departments and programs at the university. The global literacy and global learning initiatives are at the core of the university’s diversity mission, working toward the promotion and development of qualities, aptitudes, and abilities that enable students to acquire a critical understanding of their own cultural rules and biases, as well as those of other cultures, related to history, politics, economy, values, beliefs, and practices.
The following is a list of courses I currently teach here at Michigan Tech. Please click on the individual links for courses with syllabi available for review.
University Wide General Education Courses:
UN 1002 World Cultures
Undergraduate Research Methods and Orientation Courses:
SS 3210 Field Archaeology
Undergraduate Upper Division Social Science / University Distribution Courses:
SS 3260 Latin American Cultural History
SS 4210 Global Change in Culture and Society Since 1400
Undergraduate Required Anthropology & Departmental Upper Division Courses:
SS 4220 Method & Theory in Archaeology
SS 4990 Directed Study in Anthropology (Senior Thesis)
SS 5010 Graduate Directed Study
SS 5502 Industrial Archaeology Graduate Seminar: Historical Archaeology
SS 5700 Graduate Archaeological Field Methods
SS 5975 Full Time Master’s Research
SS 5990 Graduate Research
SS 6010 Graduate Directed Study in Latin American Cultural History
SS 6500 Graduate Directed Reading