My Approach to Teaching

Educated in Austria and in the USA, I know from the perspective of both a student and a teacher how important the exposure to multi-cultural learning is. I therefore have utmost respect for my students’ diverse backgrounds and values – whether these are due to different educational, socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, gender-related, or other circumstances.

I am committed to maintaining high pedagogic standards. That I deeply care for my students’ education is documented by their evaluations of my work with them. I very much appreciate the power of forceful reactions to philosophical ideas, and watching my students develop into thoughtful, critical persons has been an immensely rewarding experience for me.

My courses take either the form of lectures with integrated discussion, or of lectures with student presentations on selected topics. This way I can preserve my students’ interest in the course material and at the same time motivate them to adopt the “Socratic method” of approaching philosophy – which is the method to which I feel deeply committed and which entails the commitment to a conception of lifelong learning in my view.

The courses are designed:

  1. to provide a broad sampling of systematic problems and prominent figures in philosophy,
  2. to expose my students to various styles and methods of philosophical inquiry,
  3. to help them practice the philosophical habits of asking informed questions and producing reasoned arguments, and
  4. to help them engage points of view different from their own, both historical and contemporary.

Short meetings before or after class, extra meetings scheduled by appointment, and regular office hours throughout the semester give my students the opportunity for personal discussion of course contents, their standing in the course, and the broader career goals they are pursuing. I answer substantive student requests via e-mail within one business day, and for every course I also offer review sessions before exams.

Each course requires that my students spend a reasonable amount of time carefully preparing the assigned readings and homework, attend class on a regular basis and commit themselves to the common standards of academic honesty. The final grades are determined by a combination of homework, term papers, in-class essays and exams (sometimes including quizzes), and class participation.

In my past teaching I made use of the web. Work at schools with an implemented LMS gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, and Desire2Learn. So, I was teaching hybrid courses blending face-to-face interaction and live-lectures with web-based technology. The web pages enabled me to communicate with my students via email and to post lecture notes, study questions, homework, paper topics, reading assignments, attendance lists, and grade books. But while I regard web-based technology as a way of enhancing my students’ learning experience, I truly enjoy their attentive and active presence in the classroom.


ENCLOSURE

Syllabi (by course levels in approximate chronological order)

  • Washburn University (KS)
  • Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (INDIA)
  • The University of Kansas School of Continuing Education (KS)
  • Siena College (NY)
  • Bennington College (VT)
  • SUNY at Albany (NY)

Teaching Evaluations (by course levels in chronological order)

  • Washburn University (KS)
  • The University of Kansas School of Continuing Education (KS)
  • Siena College (NY)
  • Bennington College (VT)
  • SUNY at Albany (NY)

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Read my full teaching dossier in PDF format.