Teaching

Fall 2017 Semester Teaching Schedule

AgEc 1041 Applied Microeconomics (click here for most recent syllabus)
This course is an introduction to microeconomic principles and their application to decision-making from the perspective of the individual, firm, and industry. We will give particular attention to the market system and how prices and profits are determined and coordinate the actions of economic decision-makers. Topics include: demand and supply, specialization and trade, utility and consumer behavior, competition and imperfect competition, market structure, costs, theory of games, and applications to current issues.

AFNR 3215 Community Food Systems (click here for most recent syllabus)
This course focuses on essential concepts in the research, implementation and understanding of food systems, with topics ranging from micro-level local, community and regional food systems to macro-level global trends in food production and distribution. In this course students will learn about commodity and food-chain analysis, and how to examine the social, economic and health implications of conventional and alternative food systems. Students will also examine specific U.S. policies and programs relevant to our present food systems and examine the growing proliferation of alternative marketing schemes, food sovereignty issues, and the relationships between community food systems and contemporary health and nutritional issues.

Spring 2018 Semester Teaching Schedule

AgEc 3241 Ethical Issues in Agriculture (click here for most recent syllabus)
In this course we examine ethical issues in agriculture, with particular emphasis on the development of an analytical framework for understanding and evaluating the ethical implications arising from agriculturerelated public policy. We study ethical theories, show how economics, philosophy, and science inform on and impact important ethical problems, and consider how (and where) ethical considerations figure in the public policy process. We also study some of the “classic” literature in agricultural and applied ethics. Topics may include the use of technology in agriculture, food safety, environmental protection, poverty and economic development, animal welfare, farm structure, the role of agribusiness, business ethics, sustainability, and government agricultural programs.

Other Courses I’ve Taught

AgEc 8010 Research Methodology (click here for most recent syllabus)
In this course students will examine the nature of the research process, explore the connection between theory and empirical methods in applied economics research, identify viable research topics, critique published research, learn how to structure good arguments, understand the structure of research papers and proposals, and plan and manage research activities. Students will also write a thesis/dissertation proposal or research paper and receive Institutional Review Board training.


My Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is founded on two pillars: learning and learning to learn. First, when I teach I do so with the objective of helping students have “ah-hah!” experiences, which I define as making connections that signify learning. Students make connections when they see how things they learn fit together within a larger framework of truth and understanding. Often it is easy for me to determine whether students are comprehending and making these connections. I do this by noting their expressions, the comments they make and the questions they ask or even fail to ask. I keep working at it, presenting and clarifying ideas, switching tactics and redirecting discussion until I perceive that my students, both individually and as a whole, are having “ah-hah!” experiences.

Second, I want students to learn how to learn and to have the confidence that they can learn – not only from me but also on their own. I usually explain this outright. I tell my students that if they do not understand something, I expect them to try to figure it out on their own first. I believe part of the difficulty students have is that they are insecure about their ability to find answers independently to their questions. I design assignments with the objective of helping students gain confidence in figuring things out for themselves. To this end, I believe students have a responsibility for their own learning, just as I have a responsibility to teach. One of the best ways students can do this is to have a question they want answered. Therefore, I motivate students by encouraging them to have questions in mind. “What questions do you have?” is often how I start each class session.

Specific principles that guide my teaching include the following:

  1. Pragmatism. I do what works in the classroom, and I consider individual student needs and will adapt when necessary. I strive to create an atmosphere in the classroom where students are free to explore, question and ponder. I recognize that mine is not the only class students take, nor for the most important one for most of them. Therefore, I am willing to accommodate student needs that are reasonable and appropriate. I utilize a variety of teaching techniques and technologies, but only if they contribute to learning. Technology can be helpful, but I don’t use it just because it is new. Frankly, I have found to be true that one of the best teaching tools is still the blackboard and a piece of chalk. I also try to make time in the classroom enticing. I use demonstrations, videos, activities and group discussions, even in large-section classes, to provide a variety of learning experiences for students during class.
  1. Practicality. I believe in the importance of learning for learning sake. But I also believe that being learned matters because it can make individuals and the world a better place. For this reason, I strive to make relevant what we talk about in the classroom. I give examples and I use current events as a foundation for our classroom discussions. I rarely begin a class discussion without first highlighting a relevant news story.
  1. Proficiency. I expect students to work hard and to demonstrate mastery of the material we discuss. I also expect this of myself. I have high standards and am willing to enforce them, but I neither grade on a curve nor try to present myself as a “tough” teacher. I am willing to give everyone in the class an A if all complete assignments and perform to standards outlined in the syllabus and explained in class.
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