During my teaching career, which began in 1994 and includes one year at Middlebury College, two years at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, nine years at the University of Houston, and two years at the University of Iowa, I have taught a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses in U.S. and global history. I have a passion for teaching, which students have consistently rewarded with high praise in evaluations. In 2007, I received the Wayne Payne Teaching Excellence Award in the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. In 2017, I received a Collegiate Teaching Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa.
The hallmark of my teaching is a dedication to helping students acquire skills and confidence, as well as a base of knowledge. Thus my classes aim to stimulate class participation and teach critical thinking and writing. I try to foster a cooperative atmosphere for learning by stressing that everybody has the ability to expand his or her knowledge, but that the pursuit of knowledge should not supplant the joy of learning. Rather than providing students with information to regurgitate on exams, I introduce students to scholarly debates and new interpretations, and I teach them how to make their own historical analysis and draw their own conclusions from evidence.
I use a range of techniques – lectures, discussions (both in class and online), group exercises, and films – that accommodate different learning styles and provide students with different ways to approach the material. Although I do not embrace new instructional technologies as a panacea for every challenge that teachers face, I am convinced that using non-traditional texts such as images and sound in lectures and assignments is an excellent way to capture the attention of students who are increasingly conditioned by visual aesthetics. In addition to helping students master the content of my courses, I spend a lot of time directing them to improve their research, writing, analytical, and speaking skills, all of which are important not only to the practice of history but also in any skilled profession and for any educated citizen.
In the Department of History at the University of Iowa, my teaching focuses on the history of globalization, public history, environmental history, and the history of oil and energy, all vibrant and innovative fields that attract growing student interest. I am the advisor for the Honors Program in History.
In the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, I teach a course on U.S. Energy Policy in Global Context, which satisfies an intermediate core requirement for the Environmental Policy and Planning (EPPL) major and minor. I also serve as the coordinator for the EPPL program.