What I teach
My courses contain different aspects or approaches to social and racial justice. I am a visual and a kinetic learner, so I know from personal experience that effective, transformative learning sometimes needs to happen in unconventional contexts, not through a lecture or a reading. In most of my courses, I use interdisciplinary methods and original texts to help people grapple with real-world issues in a safe but critical environment. Like many of my colleagues, I value community-based knowledge as well as traditional book-based knowledge. For that reason, I often include opportunities for students to leave the classroom and gain exposure to the insight and wisdom of locally based people and organizations.
Vietnam antiwar movement
Macalester students will be intrigued to know that the seeds for the People’s Peace Treaty–a student led proposal to end the Vietnam War–were first planted on the Macalester campus. In August 1971, Rennie Davis and Dave Dellinger spoke on campus to address the National Student Congress. Jay Craven was in the audience (he’s the 19-year-old standing in the back row of the picture), and he ended up joining a delegation of U.S. students who went to Hanoi. The full story is told in my co-edited volume THE PEOPLE MAKE THE PEACE: LESSONS FROM THE VIETNAM ANTIWAR MOVEMENT.
For a few semesters, I have invited students into an informal tutorial focused on the Vietnam antiwar movement.
In April 2016, we held a three-day long symposium. Last May 2017, three students wrote a piece about their learning experience in the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
During Spring 2017 I launched the first version of “Bruce Lee: His Life and Legacy.” Together we watched 3 of his 4 films (I bet you thought he had hundreds!). Then we read and discussed his racial/gendered/cultural identities, his philosophies (as expressed in the Tao of JeetKuneDo), and his political legacies. It turns out that this gifted athlete and artist who died too early in 1973 lives on the imagination of people all over the world!
Do you need a Letter of Recommendation?
I am happy to write letters of recommendation that convey my honest impressions of your writing and social skills, your attitude, and what it appears will be your major contribution to a workplace or academic program. Please give me at least TWO WEEKS so that I may find time to put aside to gather my thoughts and compose a thoughtful and original letter. Please also provide me with any supporting materials–such as your resume, a statement of interest, or any other ideas or phrases that will jog my memory about your accomplishments. Make sure that I know when and how to deliver the letter–via email? on paper? via phone? I will not be bothered if you remind me daily about your deadline. To increase the trustworthiness of the letter, you should waive the right to see the letter. Do not expect me to provide you a copy. Unless you hear positively from me, please do not assume that I will provide you with a letter. Many factors may prevent me from being able to do so. In any case, I wish you the best of luck.