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Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy derives from a Chinese proverb – “I hear, and I forget. I see,

and I remember. I do, and I understand.” Students, undergraduate as well as graduate,

come to university with ambitions and idealism to drive change in the world. In the

classroom, they seek both a source of existing information and the creation of new

knowledge. A highly interactive learning environment fosters the development of skills

critical to acquiring and retaining such knowledge. 


As professors and researchers, we assist students in developing content knowledge and

process expertise. We engage in a process of critical thinking, challenge our students

and ourselves to examine our own and others’ assumptions, and assist students in

realizing their ambitions and idealism. Blending research and policy lies at the core of

teaching global environmental change and governance. My view of students as actors

in an intellectual arena where thoughts and ideas have both potential and consequences

informs my pedagogy, which is characterized by three traits:


  • grounded in theoretical foundations using International Relations, global governance, and public policy as analytical lenses through which to examine a set of policy problems and unveil the assumptions determining policy prescriptions

  • focuses attention on real-world challenges such as climate change negotiations, the implementation of international agreements, or the performance of international organizations

  • embraces an interactive teaching style that engages students with each other in often unconventional ways from taking leadership in suggesting readings to presenting the work of others to create a common language in the classroom


Pursuing analytical excellence with a clear purpose for contributing to the policy process is critical to students of international affairs. I use the classroom as a testing laboratory for innovative reasoning and argumentation and for imagining a different world. The core questions we explore seek answers to real-world problems – what is wrong with the system, why, and what could be done about it. 


Learning from leading experts in the field is a strategy I employ in all of my classes. The global network of professionals we have developed at the Center for Governance and Sustainability has facilitated engagement with an outstanding array of experts. They have engaged in constructive and challenging dialogues with students and faculty grappling with issues, arguing over perspectives, and outlining policy options. 


Contemporary challenges require professionals with an education that cuts across disciplines and social sectors, bridges theory and practice, and translates academic insight into political and policy action. I am firmly committed to educating the professionals of the 21st century – global citizens planning to be of service to the global community.* 

* I have developed and taught graduate and undergraduate classes in international environmental policy, international organizations, sustainability, and governance at Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts Boston, the College of William and Mary, the School of the Environment at Yale, and Yale College. I have taught professional courses for the UN Environment Programme and the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu. I have worked with colleagues from MIT and Tufts in training doctoral students in Science Diplomacy. I also work with governments in convening policy experts in focused dialogues on improving international environmental governance. 


Graduate courses (2003-present)

  • International Environmental Policy, Northeastern University

  • International Organizations, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Global Environmental Governance, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Environmental Issues in the Horn of Africa, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Environmental Issues in Africa: The Case of Rwanda, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • PhD Colloquium: Global Governance and Human Security, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • PhD Research Groups, University of Massachusetts Boston 

  • International Environmental Organizations: UNEP and Global Governance, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

  • Yale-Stimson Graduate Policy Course, Yale University 

  • Governance of Emerging Global Issues, UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (module leader)


Undergraduate courses (2004-2009)

  • Introduction to Environmental Science and Policy, College of William and Mary

  • Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Law, College of William and Mary

  • Environmental Thought and Action, College of William and Mary

  • Campus Sustainability, College of William and Mary

  • Global Environmental Governance, College of William and Mary

  • International Organizations and Environmental Governance, College of William and Mary

  • International Environmental Governance and Policy, Yale University

Professional courses (2006-present)

Teaching Awards

2018 - Innovation in Teaching: Community Engagement Award, University of Massachusetts Boston


2007 - Professor of the Year Award, from Student Society Members 13, College of William and Mary

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