My mission as a teacher is to help my students engage with pressing social issues through a critical historical lens. Central to this goal is generating intellectual environments conducive to transformative learning. Following Patricia Cranton, I define transformative learning as a process by which students reexamine assumptions, values, and frames of reference so to challenge dualistic thinking and evaluate competing perspectives and contexts. I also understand transformative pedagogies to be a set of embodied practices that focus on building community, healing, and engaging in direct transformative action.
Environmental Histories of Latin America
This course examines the relationship between environmental transformations and histories of conflict in Latin America. Although this course progresses chronologically from 1492 to the present, each unit introduces a topic in environmental history and an aspect of human conflict. For example, students will study how the introduction of new crops to the American continent by Europeans was not only a source of environmental change, but also an instrument of colonization and a source of racial divides. Students will also learn how the process of urbanization across Latin America was tied to fossil-fuel energy revolutions as well as conflicts around labor, marginalization, and pollution. The history of the environment in this course is, therefore, studied through the lens of class conflict, race, and environmental justice. (University of California – Irvine, Fall 2021)
This course studies the relationship between race and the environment through a historical perspective. It shows how the environment has been an intrinsic part in the enactment of racialized violence by capitalist enterprises, states, and different kinds of imperial projects. The class begins with a study of Spanish and British colonialism in Latin America with a particular attention to plantation work environments and ideas about the African and Indigenous body. It then explains the relationship between nineteenth-century racial science, climate determinism, and British imperialist policies in Brazil and India. The class also explores the automobile-centric process of urbanization in the twentieth century and how it affected communities of color in terms of access to public spaces, community health, and pollution. In short, this course explains the production of environmental racism in the context of capitalist development, imperialism, and the recreation of colonial racial ideologies. (Princeton University, Spring 2023)
Although I am primarily trained in history, my experience at UCI prepares me to teach methodologies from other humanistic disciplines. As an instructor of record with the Humanities Core Program, I collaborate with scholars from history, visual studies, English, film and media studies, and comparative literature in teaching a one-year-long introductory course in the Humanities to over 900 students. This fifty-year-old program fulfills seven General Education requirements in lower-division writing, arts and humanities, multicultural issues, and international studies. The course curriculum, which is reading-and-writing intensive, is renewed every three years with a new theme. This year’s theme, titled “Animals, People, and Power,” invites students to address central questions (e.g. How do discourses about animals relate to colonialism and exploitation?) by engaging with nine different humanistic disciplines. Students in Core attend lectures, participate in seminars, and compose in multiple genres — from expository essays and oral presentations to multimedia projects and artwork. As seminar instructors, then, we must be not only well versed in active learning pedagogy, but also practiced in teaching close reading, disciplinary meta-analysis, research and writing, and digital composition. Although our expertise in a single field provides an individual flavor to our seminars, this is only secondary to our strong interdisciplinary approach that both defines and interrelates multiple disciplines in the Humanities. (Winter and Spring, 2022)
- Humanities Core Website. https://core.humanities.uci.edu/
- North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. https://www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2013/02/26/a-watershed-moment-for-environmental-justice-the-warren-county-pcb-protests