"The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting." -Plutarch
I identify first and foremost as an educator. I firmly believe that education is a lifelong enterprise and that an effective teacher is one who helps to foster curiosity and spark in their student's the desire to increase their understanding of the world. I draw on critical pedagogy in my teaching, and I believe that teaching and learning is an inherently political act. In all of my classes, I push my students to envision a more socially just world, and develop strategies for achieving said world. In my advising practice, I tailor my advising style to the needs of individual students. I seek to empower them to make the best decisions that lead them to academic, and eventually, career success.
My teaching and advising has been recognized at the university level. In 2021, I was the recipient of the Missouri State University Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Curtis P. Lawrence Award for Excellence in Advising, the university's highest honors in teaching and advising, respectively. I was also recognized at NACADA, the Global Community for Academic Advising with an Outstanding Faculty Advising Certificate of Merit.
SOC 150: Introduction to Society
The study of society including its structure and operation from the perspective of sociology. The course focuses on ways society is constructed by people and, in turn, on the ways society shapes people. This general education course supplies students with a community as well as a global, multicultural understanding of society.
SOC 301: Research Methodology
For generations, social scientists have addressed some of the fundamental questions facing human beings and society. At this point in time, there are several things that we know. We know that old age is correlated with both increased positivity and decreased processing speed. We know that simply raising the level of punishment does not necessarily lower crime rates. We know that, relative to White Americans, Black and Hispanic Americans have poorer health outcomes across a variety of conditions. But how do we know what we know? In this course, you will be introduced to the ways in which social scientists, particularly sociologists, conduct social research. This course will cover a variety of topics including the scientific method, ethics in research, the purpose of theory, conducting literature reviews, developing research questions, study design, measurement, data collection (both quantitative and qualitative), and crafting effective research proposals.
SOC 302: Statistics for Social Reserach
According to American author Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” While statistics can be misused to distort reality and support untruths, it can also be a powerful tool to increase our understanding of social phenomena. In this course, you will be introduced to the concepts and techniques used by social science researchers to conduct quantitative research on society. More specifically, you will learn how to tell a story using data drawing on both descriptive and inferential techniques. This course will cover a variety of topics including: levels of measurement, data visualization (graphs and charts), measures of central tendency and dispersion, elementary probability theory, estimation, hypothesis testing, correlations, linear regression, and statistical software.
SOC 375: Social Forces and Aging
While certainly a biological process, human aging also takes place within a social context. As such, sociologists have contributed greatly to our understanding of how social forces, institutions, and culture shape our experience of aging from birth until death. Moreover, research indicates that the aging experience is stratified across social location such as gender, race/ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. In this course, we will examine the aging process from the sociological perspective. This course will touch on a variety of topics including: demographic trends and population aging; theories of aging with a particular focus on the life course perspective; age-related changes in physical, mental, and cognitive health; social relationships and social networks among older adults; work and retirement; social policies concerning older adults; living arrangements and end-of-life care; aging experiences of racial/ethnic & sexual minorities; and global aging.
SOC 450: Population, Society, and Public Policy
What impact does the rapidly aging population have on the global economy? What are the future implications for society given current age and sex structure in the U.S. population? How do populations change over time and is there a unified theory of said change? This course will provide answers to the aforementioned questions, and, in the process, introduce you to the field of demography, the study of human populations. Throughout the semester, we will explore how populations grow, shrink, age, and distribute themselves spatially over time. Moreover, this course will expose you to the type of data that demographers employ in their analysis of the human population and introduce you to fundamental demographic techniques such as population projection, and population pyramid construction. Lastly, this course will provide a survey of current population issues (population aging, immigration, low fertility, overpopulation) and the policies aimed at addressing said issues. Though this course will focus primarily on the U.S. context, we will spend some time discussing less developed countries and countries with unique population challenges (e.g. Italy, Japan, Russia).
SOC 480: Health Inequities Across the Life Course
Why are some social groups more susceptible to poorer health outcomes than others? In this course, we address this question by examining the extent of, patterns of, and reasons behind social inequities in health and wellbeing across the life span. This course draws on interdisciplinary perspectives including sociology, social epidemiology, psychology, health demography, feminist theory, critical studies, and health services research to provide an in-depth investigation of how health inequities across race/ethnicity, gender/sex, sexual identity, class and other social locations emerge and and are perpetuated throughout time. The focus will largely center on social and structural determinants of health. Lastly, the course will focus on health policy, and the ways that health policy shapes priorities regarding actions taken to lessen health inequities across groups. Though the course will center on the U.S. context, we will also investigate health inequities across the globe, particularly as they compare to U.S. inequities. This course is ideal for anyone interested in research or applied careers in health and health care as well as those curious about how the social environment can influence one's health and wellbeing.
My approach to academic advising is based on my firm belief that advisors are not merely sources of information for students regarding classes and academic policies. Indeed, advisors also have a responsibility to empower and support their advisees, in all domains, throughout their college career. Great academic advisors also serve as teachers, mentors, and advocates. In crafting my own philosophy of advising, I draw on the core values laid out by NACADA:
I care for my students by seeing them as individuals, approaching my interactions with them full of empathy, and by providing a nurturing and supportive environment. By simply reiterating early and often the simple phrase “I care about you and your success,” I am able to build rapport with my advisees that serves as a foundation for a good advising relationship. I am very committed as shown by my prioritizing advising activity, making myself accessible to my advisees, and by eagerly engaging in trainings and readings that allow me to strengthen my advising practice. I empower my students by making it very clear that they are the captains of their proverbial ship. As an advisor, I support my advisees, but I do not direct them. I offer counsel and advice, I will express when I disagree with a decision, but I will always stand with them. As a gay, Black man from humble beginnings who benefited from pushes to make institutions of higher learning more inclusive, the importance of inclusivity is not lost on me. My broader support of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism permeate into my advising practice. I acceptance students as they are, and strive to ensure that they know that they belong at Missouri State, no matter their background. As with all that I do, I approach advising with integrity. I do not lie to my advisees. I express to them my honest and frank opinions and I encourage them to do the same. I familiarize myself with advising policy and procedures to ensure that each advising sessions is conducted fairly. Connected to this, I strive to approach each session with the utmost level of professionalism. This is not to say that I am stuffy, cold, and impersonal when advising my students. Instead, in my advising, I am always looking to better students and push them toward greatness, which, after all, is the ultimate goal of the advising profession. Lastly, I treat my advisees with respect. I see them as individuals with autonomy. I meet them where they are and never assume that I unequivocally know what is best for them.
Guided by the principles laid out above, I find myself constantly reflecting on my advising practice. I believe that the most effective philosophies are the ones that are not so rigid that they can impede one’s ability to grow and be better. In sum, my approach to advising is fluid and ever changing. I strive to meet the uniqueness of each advising moment. I believe that by keeping the focus on each student and their respective needs, I will continue to grow into a more effective advisor.