My approach to teaching is rooted in the Socratic method and the belief that philosophical understanding and insight is best achieved through careful and engaged dialogue. For over a decade, I have honed my skills at creating and nurturing this type of conversation with my students. I am passionate and serious about what I do. Students often comment favorably not only on these attributes, but also on my preparedness, content knowledge, and organization and execution of material. The feedback that brings me the most joy are reports that my courses are fun. Why shouldn't they be? Engaging with the most fundamental questions that face reflective, thoughtful and terminal beings like ourselves ought to be an intellectually exhilarating experience.
You can find my teaching portfolio here. It contains a summary of my quantitative student evaluations as well as qualitative feedback from faculty and students. Please find sample syllabi below along with a brief description of my approach to various courses.
American Studies I (Click for course page)
I teach American studies to college students at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar. This is the first course in a two course sequence. We cover traditional American values and how they are changing in America. In addition to traditional values, such as freedom, self-reliance, hard work, equality of opportunity, material wealth, and competition, we cover religion, politics, and ethnic and racial diversity in America. In the course, we also examine American values in light of Malagasy values.
American Studies II (Click for course page)
This is the second course of American studies that I teach at the University of Antananrivo. It expands on some of the themes in the first course and discusses the following topics as well:
- The failure to extend rights and equality in American’s history and the subsequent response of minorities
- The importance of the frontier in America's history
- American abundance and American business
- Disparities in wealth in America and the developing world
- America’s most famous philosophical system: pragmatism
- American education and American family vs. Malagasy education and Malagasy family
Philosophy of Language (Click for course page)
This is a course taught in mostly English (with some Malagasy) about philosophical topics in the study of language. We cover some famous theories of meaning: the Idea Idea, the Proposition Theory, use theories, and Paul Grice's famous psychological theory. We also touch on some speech act theory as well. The course examines the theses of linguistic relativity and linguistic determinism (the latter is also known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis)--especially in relation to the Malagasy language and Malagasy thought. Some of the professor's own views about a theory of meaning and linguistic relativity are presented as well.
Academic English for Non-Majors (Click for course page)
This course was designed for Master's students at the University of Antananarivo who study outside of the Department of Anglophone Studies but who can benefit from improving their academic English. It better prepares them to engage in academic discussions and writing in English.
Introduction to Philosophy (Click for Sample Syllabus)
In addition to covering the basics of logic and reasoning, I cover some of the big questions of philosophy in this class.
- Does God exist?
- Is there an objective moral law? If so, what might it be like?
- What is the best form of government?
- What is the nature of the mind? Is it material or immaterial?
- Is free will consistent with causal determinism? If not, which is true, free will or causal determinism?
- Where does our knowledge come from? Is it innate or learned?
I always attempt to inform these big questions with current debates in philosophy and the sciences, such as discussion of the Language Acquisition Device in the context of innate vs. learned knowledge.
Introduction to Ethics (Click for Sample Syllabus)
I cover a bit of metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics in this course, in that order. We examine whether there is an objective moral law, then what it might be, and then how to apply such a law (or set of laws) to contemporary moral issues such as animal rights, abortion, genetic engineering, the death penalty, and gay marriage.
Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking (Click for Sample Syllabus)
In this course, I cover both formal and informal logic. Students learn logical fallacies and also how to accurately identify them in everyday examples. After this, students learn a proof system for natural deduction. The course ends with an examination of different forms of inductive reasoning, such as analogical induction, inferences to the best explanation and scientific reasoning. The course is based heavily on helping students hone their skills in critical thinking; we do not just learn logic, we practice it. There is ample classroom time to develop and practice critical thinking skills.
Philosophy of Mind (Click for Sample Syllabus)
In this course, I examine various metaphysical views about the mind such as: substance dualism, reductive materialism, panpsychism,varieties of property dualism (emergentism and epiphenomenalism), mysterianism and biological naturalism. That examination takes half of the course. In the other half, we turn our attention to other issues in philosophy of mind such as: intentionality, the self, free will and action, the unconscious, and perception.
Business Ethics (Click for Sample Syllabus)
I cover a bit of ethical theory and then explore important issues in business ethics. I typically cover the following topics, with an emphasis on students gaining critical thinking skills that they can actually apply in the workplace.
- The Good Life and Business
- Fairness and Justice
- Stakeholder vs. Shareholder Theory
- The Ethics of Advertising
- The Ethics of International Business
- Environmental Ethics
- Business and Leadership