Teaching

I love teaching. Both the UNC Department of Political Science1 and UNC-Chapel Hill2 as a whole have recognized my teaching with special commendations. My approach to teaching can be stated simply:

Teach to the head through the heart and the heart through the head.

UNC Teaching Award recipients honored at UNC-Georgia Tech January 15, 2022. (That’s me in the gray jacket toward the middle.)

What does this mean in practice? For a lengthy exposition, see my teaching philosophy [document to come]. In brief, the head-heart approach means I treat students as beings capable of deep analytic understanding and as beings with loves and worries. Students care deeply about themselves, each other, and the world. Rather than bracket these cares, I connect the academic material (head) with the things which drive their pursuit of education and formation at the University (heart). That’s the main thing for most students: connect the (sometimes) dry material to matters of concern.

“Sam is one of the best professors I have had at UNC. He constantly encouraged participation and gave multiple opportunities for questions and comments. The variety of assignments and journal entries also allowed for me to expand on my thoughts and receive helpful feedback. Sam remained enthusiastic throughout the entirety of the semester and made political theory seem easy to grasp!”

Student evaluation, Spring 2021, Modern Political Thought

For other students, political science is a stoney subject (head only). I reach these students by teaching in a way which evokes (or provokes!) the emotions. The study of politics entails discussion of humanity’s best and worst moments. So far as I can, I aim to appropriately connect students to the deeply human elements of political science. It is not just interesting to learn about collective action, it is important. Whether through illustrative examples, Auden’s poetry, or exclamations of outrage and joy in the classroom, I bring the head and heart together.

As a disciplinary matter, my teaching involves elements of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). Within the boundaries of a given course, PPE allows me to provide students multiple ‘ways in’ through the three analytic approaches. While I think this is a good pedagogical move, it also connects to my substantive research interests. Teaching pushes me to understand political theory to a greater degree, making me a better scholar.

Courses Taught:

  • Modern Political Theory (POLI 271)
  • Everyday Political Theory (POLI 276)
  • Extracurricular Teaching
    • Short course on the Problem of Evil and Suffering
    • Seminar on the Purpose of Education and the University


1. John Patrick Hagan Award for Best Teaching Fellow UNC-CH Political Science Department 2021
2.Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Assistants 2022

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