Teaching

In my teaching, I am motivated by my belief that both the content and the methods of philosophy have the potential to transform us into more thoughtful, engaged, reflective people and to improve our ability to interact meaningfully and genuinely with those around us. I want students to come away from their time in my class with better-developed abilities to understand the perspectives and motivations of those they disagree with; to express their own beliefs and experiences to others in a productive way; to think carefully and critically about new ideas; and to revise their beliefs if they find that they have good reason to do so.


Here are some teaching awards I've won and/or been nominated for:

  • Recipient of the UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award, 2019-2020: Highly competitive, university-wide award honoring exemplary teaching at the highest institutional level at UMass Amherst. Students and alumni nominate instructors, undergraduate students complete initial reviews of all nominations, and then committees comprising of past DTA winners review nominations in a two-step process prior to selecting four faculty and two teaching assistant awardees.

  • Finalist for the UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award, 2018-2019

  • Nominated for the UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award, 2017-2018

  • The John Robison Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 2015-2016: An award given out every year by the philosophy department to a graduate student who displays exceptional teaching abilities.


Here is a list of courses I've taught:

  • Philosophy of Sex and Love / Sexual Ethics

I've taught versions of this at WCU, UVM, and UMass. I've taught it as a first year seminar a number of times, and I taught a version of it cross listed with the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Department. We cover topics like:

  • What love is (and how it relates to things like anger, hate, or morality)

  • Sexual harassment and assault (what it is; the kind of socialization of people of all genders that makes it so common; why it can sometimes be difficult to detect; how we should respond to it when it is done to us or others)

  • Consent (what it is; why it is necessary but not sufficient for permissible sexual activity; how consensual sex can be harmful)

  • Stigmatized sexuality (the stigmatization of the sexuality of women, fat people, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people; the virginity movement; violence against transgender people; sex work; sexual domination and submission; polyamory).


  • Religion, Gender, and Sexuality

I taught this course at WCU, and we explored various religious traditions across the world and throughout time to get a better understanding of how our concepts of gender and sexuality have shaped religious and cultural beliefs, and also how religious and cultural beliefs have shaped conceptions of gender and sexuality. We covered topics like:

  • Different theories of gender (e.g. biological determinism, socialization, sexual status, personality, etc.)

  • How to define things like "sexual activity" and "sexual orientation"

  • How different religious traditions construct the notions of "gender" and "sexual orientation"

  • The relationship between concepts like "religion," "spirituality," and "worldview"

  • How things like misogyny and gender hierarchies present in different contexts

  • How autonomy functions for various genders in different societies

  • The role of religious values in civic life


  • Biomedical Ethics and Social Justice / Medical Ethics

I've taught this course at WCU and UMass a lot. I've taught it as a standard, face-to-face course, an online course, and as part of UMass's Residential Academic Program (RAP). RAP is a program that is meant to help freshmen students make the transition to college and get the most out of their time at UMass. The courses taught through this program include the same content that they do when taught outside of the program, but they also include activities and approaches to the material that teach study skills, familiarize students with the resources the UMass campus has available for students, and encourage students to work closely with their classmates. In this class we cover topics like:

  • Reproduction, enhancement, and the medicalization of the non-medical (genetic enhancement; wrongful life; disability; intersex babies; male circumcision; physicians' misunderstandings of female sexuality; how the medical world harms fat people)

  • The distribution of medical resources (implicit bias in physicians; distributing scarce medical resources; healthcare in the U.S.)

  • Defining persons and determining how we should treat them (paternalism; abortion; euthanasia; animal testing)


  • Introduction to Ethics / Western Moral Traditions / Contemporary Moral Issues

I've taught versions of this at WCU, UVM, UMass, and UF. We discussed topics like:

  • How to do moral philosophy (What is an argument? What makes something count as a reason for doing or believing something? How do we figure out how to weigh various moral considerations, like the value of making autonomous choices versus the value of increasing the quality of someone’s life?

  • The value of persons and the value of lives (Who counts as a person? Is it ever okay to kill animals? To commit assisted suicide? To have an abortion?)

  • Issues in social justice (What is racism? What is sexism? What is "transphobia"? What is "fat phobia?" What is “rape culture”? How do we address these problems? What is "canceling"? Is it good or bad? How does it relate to the right to free speech?)


  • Agency and Responsibility

In this upper-level seminar I taught at UVM, we focused on understanding the relationship between personal autonomy and agency, responsibility, and oppression. After starting with a survey of some of the most popular approaches to understanding personal autonomy and agency, we considered the degree to which they can help us understand some of the feminist "hard cases" having to do with gaslighting, oppressive socialization, and adaptive preferences. We then moved on to considering some feminist, relational theories of autonomy, and worked toward an understanding of how oppression interacts with responsibility (e.g. Should the oppressed be blamed for contributing to oppression? Can we have responsibility/blameworthiness at the level of societies?).


  • Problems in Social Thought

This was a political philosophy course I taught at UMass in which I chose to focus on equality of opportunity and obstacles to it in our society. We discussed the following topics:

  • What is equality of opportunity? Do we want it? Do we have it?

  • How does wealth inequality and poverty undermine EO? (exploitation of workers; the negative effects of inequality on psychological health, decision-making, and physical health)

  • How does racism undermine EO? (racial segregation in housing and public schools; psychological oppression of people of color; mass incarceration; stereotyping and essentializing)

  • How does Sexism undermine EO? (implicit bias in the workplace; the unpaid labor of childcare; psychological oppression of women; hermeneutical injustice; sexual harassment and assault)