Courses in the Honors College | Courses in Public Policy Leadership | Advising for Honors Theses | Students' Success | Research on Teaching | Honors
EXCITING NEWS RELATED TO TEACHING:
In May of 2012, I was honored to be chosen as the faculty recipient of the Frist Student Service Award for "going the extra mile in unwavering dedication to students." A story about this was posted on the UM News Web site. The award was delivered at the university's commencement ceremony in the Grove. For more on this, see below in the section called "Honors."
My interests in philosophy can most basically be found in the subjects of my research. What my research interests cannot convey, however, is just how much I love to teach.
At the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), I have been teaching Critical Thinking, Communication, and Public Policy, Ethics and Public Policy, as well as the Honors College's intensive writing course (101 and 102) since the fall of 2007. In semesters to follow, I'll teach courses in Philosophy of Leadership: Classics of Ethics and Politics, Philosophy and Diversity in Public Policy, and the Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights: Western Justifications and International Challenges. Further courses I will develop will include Philanthropy and Ethics, Distributive Justice, and other special topics courses. The following is a description of the courses I've taught, the student theses I've directed, some information on some of my students' successes, as well as some of my new ideas about teaching and an honor I've received in part for my teaching.
Courses in the Honors College
I teach the Freshman writing courses in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi, Honors 101 and 102. Both courses cover the elements of argumentative writing and research skills. Our texts for the courses deal with conceptions of self. In the Honors 101 class, we focus on self in society, such as in reading about Marxist, existentialist, feminist, and racial critiques of social norms and practices. In the Honors 102 course, our study of the self looks to humans' relations to science, religion, and purpose in life. For each course, the Honors faculty picks four books in common for all sections to read, with the remaining texts varying between sections. The motivation for these core texts is to offer some overlap and dialogue across sections of the course, while allowing a significant amount of difference according to instructors' choices and strengths.
I am proud to say that several of my students (freshmen) had their final papers from my courses accepted for presentation at an undergraduate conference. See below under "Students' Success" for more information.
Courses in Public Policy Leadership
In my department, Public Policy Leadership, I have so far taught two courses. The first is PPL 212, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Public Policy. It is a combination of critical thinking and public speaking. It is a practice-intensive course in which students are asked to give six in-class presentations. The subject matter of our discussions, when we apply the principles of reason that we study, is focused on issues of public policy.
Aside from PPL 212, I also teach PPL 300, Ethics and Public Policy. For that course, I am developing a research monograph that I intend to use as a theoretical framework for presenting the subject of ethics for application in the realm of public policy. The book is called Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy. The text is a scholarly monograph, but since few books address the broader issues of leadership in public policy I hope to use it in the PPL 300 course. Consider that philosophers commonly address particular matters of public policy, but rarely focus on issues like policy prioritization (agenda setting) or issue framing (conceptualization). In time, I also intend to assemble an edited book for use in the ethics and public policy course, in order to offer a greater variety of ethical theories than those textbooks that present only deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics. This further book project is still in early stages of development.
In semesters to follow, I'll teach further courses my department, such as "Philosophy of Leadership: Classics of Ethics and Politics," "Philosophy and Diversity in Public Policy," and the "Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights: Western Justifications and International Challenges." I will also develop courses called "Philanthropy and Ethics," "Distributive Justice," and other special topics courses.
I am proud of several students from my Ethics and Public Policy course, who have had their papers accepted for presentation at academic conferences. See "Students' Success" below for more information.
Advising for Honors Theses
I have had the pleasure and the honor of directing a number of students' honors theses. For a period, I tried in vain to keep details up to date on all of them. Rather than list facts that may become out of date soon, I'll just say that it has been my pleasure to work with excellent students from the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College as well as the Croft Institute for International Studies, each of which require theses for their undergraduate students. For specifics about theses I am addressing, I have managed to keep a list fairly well up to date in the teaching section of my curriculum vitae, which you you open by clicking here.
For a time, I tried to keep this section of my Web site up to date, but it has proven quite difficult. I've simply had too many very successful students do wonderful things. It's a great problem. At the same time, I maintain my department's Web site, where I post much of these details. It has simply proven too difficult to maintain two such pages. That said, you can learn about the many successes of students of Public Policy Leadership by visiting my department's "highlights" page here. What I have done here is to leave some details about student success, which I collected in my first few years at the University of Mississippi.
For one recent (February 2011) example of big news, a number of my students were elected to the Associated Student Body on campus, including the President and Vice President, both of whom are working with me on their honors theses. I'm very lucky to have such ambitious and hard working students. At the same time, this is why it's been hard to keep up with all the details I'd like to post here.
As I said, I had posted some initial information before too much started coming in to keep track on two different Web sites. Here are some details from my first years at the University of Mississippi.
In my first semester at Ole Miss, two of my students from Honors 101 (fall 2007) had their papers accepted for presentation at an undergraduate philosophy conference. Meaghan Gandy and Scarlett Andrews (pictured on right) had their final papers from the class accepted for presentation at the Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. These two exceptional freshmen presented their papers on April 18 and 19, 2008, in Forest Grove, Oregon. Various funding sources at The University of Mississippi helped cover the students' travel expenses.
Next, four students from my Ethics and Public Policy course (from different semesters) also had papers accepted at academic conferences. In the fall of 2008, Andre' Cotten wrote an excellent paper in my course and submitted it to the Pacific University conference that took place in 2009. His paper was accepted and he applied for and has been awarded a Student Development Grant from the University of Mississippi's Office of Student Affairs to support his travel to the conference. After Andre's success came Vince Chamblee's. Vince submitted his paper to the Ohio State University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, had it accepted, and also was awarded a Student Development Grant from the university to support his travel. Next, Elizabeth Joseph submitted a project that she had completed independently of class to The Delta conference, an event focused on democracy and economic development in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region. Elizabeth's paper was accepted for presentation at the conference. Elizabeth has received support from the Department of Public Policy Leadership to attend the conference. Finally, Jake McGraw sent his paper written for my E. & P. P. course and had it accepted. I will post more about his success here soon.
I am thrilled to see my students keeping active intellectually outside the classroom. They worked hard to make their ideas clear and important. Then, they had the courage to submit their work for review and dissemination. Congratulations to Scarlett, Meaghan, Andre', Vince, Elizabeth, and Jake! Read more about them here.
A few more successes are worth mentioning beyond these conference acceptances. As I mentioned above, Vince Chamblee was a Barksdale Award recipient and Jake McGraw was awarded a Truman scholarship. More recently, Taylor McGraw was awarded a Barksdale award for a project he hopes to publish as a book. Here below is a photo of Taylor receiving his award from Dean Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez and being congratulated by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. I am extremely fortunate to work with such exceptional students.
Research on Teaching
In designing Honors 101 and 102 for the Honors College at Ole Miss, I developed a new way of teaching argumentative writing. I have found the method successful at reducing the time necessary for grading papers, increasing feedback for students, and guiding students' writing organizationally and critically. I am working on a paper in which I describe the development and implementation of this method. I intend to send it to the journal, Teaching Philosophy, once it is ready.
The Thomas F. Frist Student Service Award
In May of 2012, I was honored to be chosen as the faculty recipient of the Frist Student Service Award for "going the extra mile in unwavering dedication to students." A story about this was posted on the UM News Web site. The award will be delivered at the university's commencement ceremony in the Grove.
We are fortunate to work at a university that cares about and recognizes service. At some universities, service is seen as a small or ancillary aspect of university life. The Frist Award is one of the University of Mississippi's efforts to show that it cares about service, especially to our students.
In September of 2012, the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi published this announcement about the award.
The following are videos from the 2012 UM Commencement ceremonies, created by our award-winning Media and Documentary Projects department. The first video is about the Frist Award in general and about Dewey Knight's award as the selected staff member. The second video is the announcement Dr. Ridgeway made about the faculty member. It was a lovely and much appreciated day.
The Cora Lee Graham Award
In May of 2011, I was one of three college of liberal arts faculty members to be recognized for teaching. I was honored with the Cora Lee Graham Award for the Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen.
Dean Hopkins presented the plaque for the Graham award in May 2011.
According to the University of Mississippi's College of Liberal Arts, the Cora Lee Graham Award was established to "to help retain your better professors who teach the freshman classes in the College of Liberal Arts ... Criteria for the award include, but are not limited to, excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students, and concern for students’ welfare."
You can learn more about the award and past recipients on the College of Liberal Arts Web site here. Also, the college released this notice about the awards.
Distinguished Membership in the NSCS
I have also been honored with Distinguished Membership in the National Society for Collegiate Scholars for "outstanding contributions to the classroom, the campus, and the community" (September 2009, UM Chapter Web site).
While teaching is deeply important to me, so is my research. For information about my work, see my writings page. If you'd like more information about my department, Public Policy Leadership, visit: http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/leadership.