teaching

I have been designing and leading my own courses for years and enjoy teaching a wide variety of topics, mostly in value theory broadly construed. My experience includes teaching at public and private universities, small graduate seminars and 300-person intros, and students from a variety of backgrounds, including English majors at a Chinese university for a year. During my final year of graduate school I received the university-wide Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence. 

At McMaster I'm teaching two courses in the fall of 2018. I'm happy to return to teaching undergraduate courses and I'm excited to be trying something new by focusing on argument maps, using the tools at mindmup.com.

Below are descriptions of every class I’ve taught as the professor. Upon request, I also have a full teaching dossier available that includes my teaching statement, descriptions of classes I TA’d for, and evaluations from my VT courses.


History of Political Philosophy, McMaster University, Fall 2018

A second-year course for general education students. We complete a general historical survey of canonical figures in Western political philosophy, starting with Plato and Aristotle, focusing on social contract theory, and ending in the nineteenth century with Mill and Marx. While tracing historical conversations, we also look at their implications for our contemporary political debates. Two meetings per week are devoted to lecture, one per week to collaboratively mapping arguments with an online tool.

 

Philosophy of Constitutional Law, McMaster University, Fall 2018

An advanced course for undergraduates in their final year of the Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law program as well as graduate students. The first half of the semester is devoted to addressing some of the foundational issues in constitutionalism, including the authority of constitutions and theories of interpretation. In the second half, we read a newly published book in philosophy of constitutional law, giving many of the undergraduates their first opportunity to read a single-authored philosophy book in its entirety. This course is writing intensive, with regular reconstructions and at least two longer research papers, with the choice to revise and write up to five.

 

The Legitimacy of Supranational Institutions, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Sommersemester 2018

A graduate seminar investigating the normative legitimacy of supranational institutions in general. We look at some specific cases that have received attention by theorists, including the legitimacy of the United Nations, European Union, international courts, and international NGOs. We also consider the general question of what legitimacy beyond the state means and how it differs from state legitimacy in both concept and normative conditions.

 

Propaganda and Political Speech, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Wintersemester 2017

A graduate seminar concerning the nature of propaganda, including what propaganda is, the mechanisms by which it works, the threat it poses to democratic governance and legitimacy, and potential responses to that threat. Focused around Jason Stanley’s recent book How Propaganda Works.

 

Theories of Cosmopolitanism, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Wintersemester 2016

A graduate seminar on theories of political cosmopolitanism, understood as the position that justice demands some kind of supranational institutional structure, ranging from distributed coordinative institutions to a single world state. We began with statist challenges to the extension of justice beyond the state and read various theorists in order of the degree of complexity and authority of proposed supranational institutions.

 

Philosophy of Civil Disobedience, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Sommersemester 2017; Sommersemester 2016

A graduate seminar on various philosophical theories of civil disobedience, starting with historical sources including Thoreau, Gandhi, and King, moving through Rawls and the Anglophone debate of the 1960s and 70s, culminating in contemporary theorizing of Brownlee, Scheuerman, and others. In addition to broad theories, we considered particular contemporary problems like whether and how civil disobedience applies to the digital realm and to government whistleblowing.

 

Jurisprudence, Virginia Tech (PHIL 4334), Spring 2015; Fall 2014

An upper-divisional undergraduate course with few philosophy prerequisites. Students were mostly political science and pre-law majors. I designed this course in such a way as to engage non-philosophy majors by focusing on intuitively compelling yet fundamental issues in the philosophy of law, especially whether citizens have a duty to obey the law and the justification of punishment. This was a writing-intensive course so included regular writing assignments and several papers.

 

Ethical Theory, Virginia Tech (PHIL 3314), Spring 2015; Fall 2014

An upper-divisional undergraduate course, mostly non-majors, focused on detailed examination of the major ethical theories, after students have been introduced to moral issues in introductory courses. We investigated major strains of deontology, consequentialism, and virtue theory. In each case we considered the historical foundations of the theory, its contemporary expressions and variations, and discussed major strengths and weaknesses. Some passing discussions of issues in metaethics, applied ethics, and axiology.

 

Global Ethics, Virginia Tech (PHIL 2304), Spring 2015; Summer 2008 (online)                        

A survey of ethical issues surrounding international relations and the forces of cultural and economic globalization. We touched on problems in just war theory, international aid, global poverty, and climate change, among others. The 2015 course included many members of the Corps of Cadets and the class chose drone warfare as the open topic for the final few sessions. The 2008 course was entirely online and included weekly readings, pre-recorded lectures, and an active online discussion board.

 

Morality and Justice, Virginia Tech (PHIL 1304), Fall 2014

A large introductory course that fulfills an area requirement in the liberal arts, with an enrollment of three hundred, mostly in their first year and undecided on major. It met twice weekly in a large lecture hall and then once a week in smaller, twenty-five student discussion sections led by four graduate teaching assistants. After a brief overview of major ethical theories, the majority of the course focused on contemporary moral issues such as abortion and drug use and policy. The content of the course is flexible to account for topical issues, at least one of which was up to the determination of the students. This semester included discussions of universal healthcare and gun control. The two weekly lectures generally set up contrasting viewpoints, allowing the final, smaller meeting of the week to focus on peer discussion about the contested issue.

 

Business Ethics, Washington University in St. Louis (U22 234), Summer 2013

A small evening course for non-traditional students. Many of these students were business professionals, actively employed full-time in a variety of fields. Most were business majors and none were philosophy majors. This course touched on a wide variety of the most important issues in business ethics, ranging from the underlying morality of the market to workplace dynamics. The topics were sensitive to the students’ concerns as professionals and included some subjects of contemporary concern, including using the case of Edward Snowden as a frame for a discussion of the ethics of whistleblowing.

 

Present Moral Problems, Washington University in St. Louis (U22 231), Spring 2013; Summer 2011

An introduction to contemporary moral issues, which for the most part intentionally bypassed ethical theory. The class engaged conflicting viewpoints on moral issues that were of both societal and personal interest, including debates over the nature of marriage, euthanasia, abortion, and others. These classes were very small, five students or less. This allowed me a greater degree of personal engagement and discussion that often focused on moral choices that students had personally encountered.