I teach courses on comparative politics and urban politics and planning. I have been honored to receive the Kennedy School’s Innovations in Teaching Award as well as the School’s Advisor of the Year award.
In my courses, students learn about how the design and reform of national and subnational political institutions generate and shape social conflict in ways that advantage some and disadvantage others. Importantly, students also consider how communities and social groups—often politically marginalized and underserved—are able to build organized power and use it to make their voices heard at the ballot box and beyond. In so doing, my students grapple with a fundamentally important strategic and (for some) ethical dilemma: namely, how to generate sustainable political power that involves or avoids building coalitions that bridge often deep-seated divides rooted in space, class, race, and partisanship.
Active learning lies at the center of how I approach course and lesson design and teaching more broadly. In this regard, I have found the case method to be a powerful vehicle for student engagement and learning. As a result, I have developed new teaching cases for my courses, either as the author, co-author, or faculty lead. Working with Pam Varley, senior case writer, and Patricia Garcia-Rios, senior producer for multimedia learning, six of these have been published by the Kennedy School’s Case Program. Some are traditional written cases, others are interactive and web-based, and some are designed for in-class simulations.
These cases deal with a variety of public policy challenges, from a major redevelopment project in Stuttgart to a community land trust in San Juan, from biking in Copenhagen to water regionalization in Detroit. In different ways, each speaks to the power of community activism, organizing, and protest, the challenges of exercising community and political leadership, and the role of parties and electoral competition. A number of the cases directly address the promise and difficulties of using participatory innovations to engage citizens and communities meaningfully in public debate and policy making.
You can learn more about these cases (including information on how to access them) by clicking on the images below.