When students finish my courses I want them to be able to have the ability to engage in in-depth discussions of the subjects covered in my class. In the Introduction to Contemporary Africa course, I want students to come away with a broader understanding of Africa, beyond the representations of Africa in the media. In most of my courses there is a definite focus on the idea representation. It is important for students to be able to articulate the importance of representation, and how the media we consume shapes our views of ourselves and “others”. The goal is also that students understand the implications of the propagation of certain narratives via the media on distributions of power and resources.
Part of my teaching goals involves helping students relate to the material. I encourage students to engage the local community by participating in activities that relate to the course. This includes attending film showings, lectures, and events. This allows students to relate the subject to real life examples. I also encourage students to dine at local African restaurants and to write about their experience. This has produced encouraging essays from students who would normally have little exposure to these communities. The goal is to encourage engagement with the material in order to achieve the following learning outcomes.
- An ability to engage in dialogue about the topics beyond the classroom
- An ability to link the material and readings to people and activities on the ground
- An understanding of the students’ connection to the content
To achieve these learning objectives I have employed several pedagogical approaches. This includes the use of blogging and podcasting, inviting special guests to campus, encouraging students to participate in events in the community.
In 2015 I created the course Hip Hop and Popular Culture in Africa. The course has received strong enrollment numbers, averaging 30 students per semester. In 2017, through HU Teach, I transformed the course into a hybrid course (30% online) and have utilized various activities. I have also been able to take students in the course to the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival in Hartford, Connecticut each year.
In 2016, I applied for and received the Academic Faculty Enhancement and Enrichment grant ($5,000). I used the grant to test the curriculum for the course Social Media and Political Change in Africa. With the grant, we were able to invite a young activist and graduate of the University of Cape Town in South Africa to campus. She came in to conduct a series of workshops with the students in the course and to participate in a public discussion on Black Activist in South Africa and the U.S.
Lastly, part of my teaching and mentoring has included involving students in my research. While blogging, podcasting, and new media are sources of pedagogy, they are also tools for research. Blogging, for example, is a form of archiving. Students have collected and archived data in the form of literature reviews, article summaries, biographies, and more. Most recently I engaged students in my research by having them work with me on analyzing and categorizing songs by female artists for an upcoming article. Students were given music from various artists, and had to indicate specific themes that appeared in the different songs. They then did an overall analysis of the artist’s music based on their own critique of the work. This helped me write my current article on expressions of African feminist thought in the music of female hip hop artists in Africa.
The following are links to more information on how I have implemented some innovation in curriculum.
This page contains my course syllabi
This page contains more information on my use of blogging and podcasting in my classes. The page details my objectives and the results from incorporating these methods.
This page contains information on the guests I have invited to campus to engage with the students. Some of these visits were in the classroom, while others were held in other venues, such as the Ralph Bunche Center.
This page includes information on and images of student engagement in the Washington, DC community.
Students attended both the 2016 and 2017 Trinity International Hip Hop Festival. Student participation was possible with the financial support from both the Department of African Studies and Trinity College. Students contributed the remaining needed funding.
This page includes a detailed report on the use of the Academic Faculty Enhancement and Enrichment grant in the course Social Media and Political Change in Africa.
This page details the ways that I have engaged my undergraduate students in my research.