Associate Professor of Political Science
B.A., Grinnell College
M.A., Ph. D., University of Florida
What classes are you currently teaching?
Introduction to Politics, European Politics, and International Organization
What activities or campus organizations are you actively involved with?
Model United Nations Club and Coe Human Rights Advocates
What makes Coe stand out from other schools?
The focus of Coe faculty is upon our students learning the skills and information they need in order to reach their own goals. We hold students to high standards and work hard to help students meet them.
What is your most memorable moment interacting with a Coe student?
During one particularly memorable week, current events concerning my own research corresponded perfectly with topics in my African politics class. We were discussing how African countries strive to build democracy after periods of war using the case of Sierra Leone. I showed my own slides from a research trip to Sierra Leone. At the end of the talk I mentioned that Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, was implicated in crimes in Sierra Leone. A court there wanted to try Taylor, but he was enjoying asylum in Nigeria. When we next met, however, I told the class that Taylor had just "gone missing" in Nigeria. Some people were trying to arrest him to take him to court in Sierra Leone, but he was on the run. Then the next day, Taylor was caught! I emailed the students, "I'm dancing in my office. Can any of you guess why?" Many quickly replied with the correct answer: "Taylor must have been caught." When a student taking the course just to fulfill a general education requirement brought me the New York Times article on Taylor's arrest, I was struck by the joy of teaching here. At Coe, students can get to know their faculty so well that they can get swept up by our scholarly passion and excitement. My students were following events in West Africa because they knew that I was dancing about them in my office. And I was even willing to do the dance before them in class the next time we were all together!
What is your favorite website?
I love the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service website. It is my main source for international news. I teach African, Asian and European politics, and I lament that US news sources cover those continents so poorly. BBC has excellent coverage of Africa and Europe in particular. I print off news stories to enrich my lectures in class. However, I get more pleasure from listening to podcasts of radio shows. I love Focus on Africa in particular. Not only does it help me keep in touch with the continent, but it also reminds me of the time I spent listing to the same show when I was living in Uganda, South Africa and Sierra Leone.
What is your favorite thing about Coe?
I really like getting to know students well outside of the classroom. My family cheers Coe athletes and performers. We host them for dinner at our house. I travel with students in the Model United Nations Club, and I work with College Adjustment Peers and Writing Fellows. These activities are certainly fun, but they also enable me to see different dimensions of my students' interests and strengths. Building broader relationships facilitates the teaching-learning dynamic.