Teaching Overview

My teaching falls into several overlapping research areas: social theory, environmental sociology, economic sociology, agriculture and food, and science and technology studies.

Teaching strategy

The ability to talk shop My main goal for teaching is to provide students with the skills necessary to make sound sociological arguments about contemporary social problems and public policy issues. I’d like to think that if a previous student were in a conversation with friends or family about something sociologically relevant, they would be able to form a nuanced opinion and express it clearly and forcefully. For me, being able to make a good argument goes beyond simply knowing the technical details of some event or social problem, and instead being able to tie discreet phenomena to broader social structures and patterns.

Courses are designed to encourage students to develop a sociological imagination through explanation and communication. Explanation involves using sociological ideas and research to understand contemporary phenomena. It’s like exercising a muscle and gets better with practice. Communication is the invaluable skill of being able to feed that explanation back into our social world and practice the discipline. While that communication can take multiple forms, it is arguably the most important part of sociological work. Being able to critically participate in society is the practical side of what we do, and it hinges on the ability to engage in clear and meaningful forms of expression.

I have designed the following courses at the University of Otago, and do the majority of course instruction:

Theories of Social Power (SOCI 302)

Environmental Sociology (SOCI 208)

These have fuller descriptions elsewhere on this site. I also teach into Environment and Society (ENV 111) and Social Theory (SOCI 202), and supervise students on a range of post-graduate topics.