One of my main goals for teaching undergraduate students is to help them navigate our increasingly globalized society. I therefore stress diversity of perspectives, transnational scholarship, and the global context of United States history, culture, and society.
In order to explain theoretical concepts of transnational practices, I incorporate personal experiences based on my bi-cultural background and encourage international students and others who have lived outside of the United States to do the same. This allows all students to connect theory with individual experiences and explore their roles in a globalized world.
In order to help students shift their focus from a national to a more global perspective, I use assignments that compel them to research non-U.S. sources, histories, and viewpoints. In the first iteration of my course on the United States through Foreign Eyes, for example, one of the assignments required students to collect articles from international news outlets that focus on the United States and explain in what ways the articles reflected a non-U.S. perspective. This assignment forced students to consider the impact of history, culture, and U.S. foreign policies on international views of the United States.
In my class on Immigration & Oral History students had to submit a proposal for their interview with an immigrant, which had to include the history of immigration from their interviewee’s origin country and the main drivers (push and pull factors) for migration from that country. This research forced students to reflect upon the relationship between the United States and other countries, while conducting an oral history with an immigrant challenged them to consider the history of U.S. immigration from the perspectives of those who have made the journey.
I treat the topics I teach as inherently transnational and incorporate non-American scholarship for comparison and illustration of different perspectives. For my online courses on U.S. popular culture, which I co-taught with a colleague in Germany, we created assignments that warranted that German and American students discuss U.S. popular culture with each other based on their own experiences and theoretical texts by European and American authors. This utilization of different personal national perspectives combined with those of U.S. and non-U.S. scholars allowed students on both sides of the Atlantic to challenge their perspectives on U.S. popular culture and its role it in a global context.
When I taught a course on National Identities and Immigration for German students at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, I challenged them to contemplate similarities and differences between U.S. and German immigration debates as they learned about U.S. immigration. This led to engaging discussions about race, ethnicity, and nation that helped students understand the meaning of “immigrant nation” in new ways.
Whether teaching in the United States or abroad, I am dedicated to teaching American history, society, and culture in a way that will affect how students approach an increasingly globalized world long after they leave my classroom.