Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Emily Nacol
“The initial challenge for undergraduate teachers of classic texts like the ones on my syllabi is finding a way to ease students’ trepidation about their ability to understand, much less criticize, daunting works like Plato’s Republic or Marx’s Capital.”
A class of many students generates a diverse set of comments and questions, but as I write these on the chalkboard for the class to review, usually two or three major themes or lines of inquiry emerge. Inevitably, there are also a few students who find something in the reading that everyone else, including me, misses. So, students are able to see both the wide range of ideas and questions the texts we read provoke, as well as areas of great depth and focus. This visual aid helps them develop an appreciation not only for the authors’ depth and scope, but also for the plurality of possible interpretations of any given text.
My teaching goals are to spark undergraduate interest in the political values and persistent questions of the long tradition of political and to help them develop the critical skills to think more deeply about political institutions, practices and values. But, political theory is also a great resource for students who want to be critically engaged citizens, regardless of their particular academic interests.
This year at the CFT, I am really looking forward to working on developing my practice of graduate teaching and training, in conversation with the other fellows, senior faculty who assist with the program, and the staff at the CFT.