Teaching

The classroom is a liminal space and time. Seemingly confined within physical walls, or in password-protected virtual spaces, its gaze is often oriented outwards to the worlds it studies, and its body is tethered to the lives of the students and instructors that inhabit it. It is also, by definition, a temporary place, changing its location from year to year and ending its physical existence with the stroke of the clock. Moreover, the classroom is a phase in the life of its inhabitants: students inhabit it temporarily as they pass towards other classes, interests or aspirations, and instructors experience it as a test run for an ever-improving syllabus and classroom experience. In this space and time liminality, the classroom exerts its compelling power as an aspirational space-time. When welcoming, inclusive and stimulating, the classroom is a vision of a better tomorrow and a roadmap to evolving futurities. It becomes a hope as well as the means to such hope: whether this hope is a degree, a job, more knowledge or even a better syllabus in the class’s next iteration. In my teaching, I look to make my classroom an aspirational space-time. I endeavor to create an inclusive and welcoming space, one that takes students seriously and demands their attention and their effort. In this aspirational modality, I strive to make my classroom a collaborative space rooted in radical generosity and inclusivity—that actively seeks to include, not simply to allow to exist, and that demands the generous engagement of all its inhabitants in a caring and supportive environment. Over the past years, I was honored to receive a number of awards in recognition of my work in teaching and advising. I was awarded the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize in 2011—Harvard’s highest honor for teaching undergraduates. I also received the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2015—Harvard’s most prestigious graduate advising award. This year, I was nominated to the History of Science Society’s Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize for “outstanding contribution to teaching” (recepients will be announced in October) I find these awards an invitation to continue my efforts to be a better teacher and adviser.

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