Teaching Statement

As an educator and a teacher of political science, I seek to equip my students with an analytical toolkit for understanding and making sense of the surrounding world. With an inspiration coming from my own research, in my teaching I strive to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. I believe that learning requires a diverse set of perspectives and imposing arbitrary categorizations that restrict it to the bounds of a single discipline deprives students of insights that more directly reflect the breadth and complexity of the world outside of university walls.

Throughout my interactions with students, both in and outside of classroom, I nudge and nurture their development of critical thinking, analytical and communication skills. I see these as universal skills that students will be able to readily apply in real life, but also ones that will generally enable them to become independent in acquiring, applying, and conveying knowledge. To foster these, I devise a threefold strategy:

(1) students are encouraged to actively participate in class discussion, which in seminar classes is additionally facilitated by having them prepare discussion questions in advance and be asked to lead class discussion on a selected day;

(2) written assignments where students have the flexibility to choose their own topic and apply concepts learned in class to other contexts;

(3) reading assignments which present different, sometimes conflicting perspectives on a related topic, allowing students to critically asses the relative merits of arguments and evidence.

To further develop as an instructor, I seek opportunities to acquire pedagogical skills, and learn about new teaching methods and ideas. I have participated in the Teaching Politics Certificate program, and I am enrolled in the Certificate in College Teaching program. I have also actively sought opportunities to work more closely with students. As a master’s student, I have applied to be a teaching assistant for a course in urban economics where I helped students develop their exciting research papers. During my doctoral studies, to obtain more first-hand teaching experience, I have volunteered to be a teaching assistant for an introductory graduate-level course in game theory where I was able to teach weekly recitation sessions. I have also been a teaching assistant for two undergraduate-level political science courses, where I had the opportunity to guide students in their weekly class assignments (for example, providing them with guidelines such as this) and advise them in deciding on the topic and writing their term papers.

Although challenging, these experiences have further strengthened my commitment to a career in education. They have also taught me that teaching is learning. Trying to convey ideas in the most approachable way forces one to develop a much deeper understanding of these ideas. But to me, it goes furtherI cherish teaching also because I get to learn from my students. I try to treat them as ‘partners’ on an educational adventure and value their contributions and ideas.

My teaching interests are in the broad field of political economy, which is at the intersection of economics and political science. I have so far designed syllabi for two courses that I would be very excited to teach and which have a very close relation with my research. One is a course in the Political Economy of Development which seeks to explore selected topics linking politics with economic outcomes, and economic progress with political development. Another one is a course titled Cities and Development which seeks to explore economic and political development through the lens of cities. Other specific courses that I would be particularly interested in teaching are a course on post-communism which would explore the particularities of transition to democracy and capitalism in former communist states, as well as courses in comparative political economy, historical political economy, and politics and economics of the European Union.