The best undergraduate class I ever took… had nothing to do with my major, but taught me more than any other class.
When reading Jean Lacoste’s Teaching Innovation Statement, I swear I was reading work from my previous professor, John Boyer, who taught World Regions in the Department of Geography. His infamous course, taken by ~2,000 others at the time, was designed in such a way that even given the massive class size, still felt very individualized. While I am not aiming for a career in academia, if I were to ever become a professor, I would consider adopting many of Boyer’s teaching methods– and they align with Jean Lacoste’s as well.
World Regions implemented a point system, so that you could pick and choose how you wanted to earn an A. This ranged from attending lectures to virtual lectures, and everything in between– news assessments, international films, readings, attending cultural shows/exhibits, and much more. Although there was a lot of work required to get an A, you had the opportunity to customize the course to best fit your needs, interests, and schedule. There were ample opportunities to receive credit, so the only excuse to not do well was simply laziness. Having the ability to customize the content of the course gave students, including myself, a sense of self-efficacy that I had never experienced in another college course. It forced me to be proactive about my assignments, which in turned inspired me to really be involved and engaged in the content I was learning. In fact, this course inspired me to actually pay attention and care about politics while thinking globally. Boyer was also very transparent about the way he assigned grades, and his courtesy for our schedules was very respectful.
Here’s the link to Boyer’s page about his course— it is a really interesting piece to read for those who want to learn more. It discusses specific content of his course, but also explains his reasonings for teaching in the way that he does.
Here are some highlights from this page that I find inspiring:
“My life mission is motivating, educating, and inspiring students to be fully engaged in the rapidly globalizing 21st century. In our increasingly connected and complex world, personal (and even our country’s) success depends upon a global awareness and global engagement to meet the challenges of our time…and the vehicle I use to forward this goal is a course called World Regions…”
“We need to have a public aware and empathetic (not sympathetic) of different peoples and diversities of cultures around the world.”
“Regardless of major, discipline, or future occupation, all of our students need greater understanding of global and international issues to develop a realistic perspective of where we fit in the global scheme. Student success in career, citizenship, and even their personal lives will increasingly hinge upon a deeper understanding of, and integration into, this wider world.”
“I am passionate about motivating, educating, and inspiring students to be engaged in the 21st century world and providing the highest quality learning experiences possible in multiple mediums that will produce global citizens and leaders as change agents for shaping the future of our planet.”
“All that, in a single course? Well, I do all I can, and I refuse to shy away from this formidable challenge.”
“We all need greater understanding of the world around us, and we as educators must embrace our mission and calling to teach as many as we can about our now fully interconnected world. If not us, who? If not now, when?”
If you need further proof of his awesome and inspiring teaching methods, check out one of his many lectures online. I mean, how could you not be excited about this course with his enthusiasm?