As a lecturer in human geography at the University of Hull, most of my teaching is currently aimed at our undergraduate programme where I teach students about phenomenon, processes and events from a geographic perspective. Geography frames my questions, topics and approaches; it gives my teaching interest and passion. Yet, the aim of my teaching is to provide students with skills that go beyond the content of our programme and the parameters of our discipline. Specifically, I endeavour to foster the students' capacity for critical thought. This means making sure they know how to: (1) read, understand and assess arguments; (2) engage with abstract ideas; (3) contemplate those ideas in relation to real-world phenomena and events; and (4) distil their own ideas into coherent, well-organized, essays and presentations. While the content of my undergraduate modules is designed to help students see things in a geographic way (the connections between multi-scalar processes, the relations of power within concrete forms, the material effects of imagination, etc.), the learning in my courses the formats by which students are challenged and the criteria by which they are assessed is designed to foster the skills they need to be life-long learners as well as thoughtful, critical and self-aware global citizens.
At the postgraduate level, my approach is very different. Here, I see my role as guiding students through what I take to be the central tension of writing and research: the tension between being open and receptive to ideas, and being willing to champion some ideas over others. In terms of the former, I foster an ethic of patience and generosity. This means expecting students to grapple with challenging texts in a diligent manner (patience) and being open to the ideas found there (generosity). While we often think that graduate teaching means honing the student's capacity for critique, it is far more important to teach students how to engage, that is, how to read with an author; endeavoring to understand what a text is trying to achieve on its own terms, without speculation or bias. In terms of teaching students how to make choices, all writing involves decisions. Thus, while it is important to be generous and patient, it is equally important to push students towards substantive claims. Managing this tension, between 'being open' and 'making choices,' means making sure students are aware of the inherent limits of all intellectual positions, while encouraging them to take a position nonetheless. In this sense, good graduate teaching should give students the courage to make choices as much as it gives them the courage to change their mind.
At present my main teaching revolves around 3 modules which I deliver on an annual basis. These are The American Landscape (Y2), World Regional Islam (Y2) and Travel, Theory and Space (Y3). The module handbooks for these modules are listed below.
The American Landscape is a second year option that explores how the American landscape has been used to create, modify and manipulate national identity. It introduces students to the central themes and theories of cultural geography and then uses those ideas to explore a number of case-studies. Topics include the production of monuments and memorials (focusing on the Lincoln Memorial, civil rights memorials and the Vietnam memorial), the use of landscape art and music (focusing on the Hudson River School of painting and the music of Aaron Copland) and the production of American 'wilderness' (using the writings of Thoreau and Muir).
Visit The American Landscape Module
World Regional Islam is university wide second-year module (a free-elective) that examines the history of Islam and Islamic civilisation as well as the geographic diversity of contemporary Islamic practice. As a religion predicated on a sacred text, Islam has a long tradition of interpretation, explanation and commentary which has allowed it to be flexible and relevant to various communities at different times and places. The first half of the module introduces students to Islamic history and the second half examines debates within Islamic thought, for example on Islamic governance, Islamic finance, and Islamic law and jurisprudence. The module also includes fieldtrips to local mosques.
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Travel, Theory and Space is a third year option that examines ideas in philosophy and cultural theory through the genre of travel literature, music, poetry and film. Topics include Deleuze's notion of 'smooth and striated space' in Jack Kerouac's On the Road; Levinas' notion of 'escape' in the music of Bruce Springsteen; Victor Turner's notion of 'liminality' in Sir Richard Burton's Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina; and Foucault's concept of 'governance' in the films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The aim is to make ideas from philosophy and cultural theory approachable by contextualizing them within recognizable tropes, story-lines and themes in the travel genre.
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In addition to my own modules, I make discrete contributions to team-taught modules throughout the BA Geography curriculum. My exact involvement varies from year to year, but I generally make a contribution to 2 or 3 of the modules below:
Introduction to Geographical Methods
Introducing Human Geography
Geographic Thought and Practice
Barcelona Field Study
Berlin Field Study
Contemporary Research in Human Geography
Topics in Social and Cultural Geography
Finally, in terms of postgraduate teaching, I have designed to 2 post-graduate modules that I have not had the opportunity to teach. Their emphasis is on developing key postgraduate skills in methodology and social theory respectively. Please see detailed syllabi below:
Research Design: epistemology, methodology, method:
See Syllabus - Research Design
See Syllabus - Key Texts