Teaching Philosophy and Interests (Fall 2020)

Whether in-person or online, my approach to teaching and mentoring is centered on “active learning,” through which students apply course material and existing theories to new situations and novel questions, thereby producing new insights and knowledge with potential impacts beyond the classroom. Throughout my time at Princeton, I have devoted special effort to this approach by bringing students at all levels into the research and learning processes via novel class assignments, productive research collaborations on race and identity, and establishing a university-wide group of scholars focused on experimental approaches to the study politics. My aim is always to empower students to become masters of their own interests, rather than passive consumers of information, and to challenge their prior ways of thinking about politics, race, and their own ability to contribute to our understanding of these issues.

At Princeton, I have developed undergraduate courses on Immigration Politics and Policymaking (lecture and research workshop for Politics Dept. majors); Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Politics (research workshop for Politics Dept. majors); Latino Politics (lecture and seminar); and Experimental Methods (lecture). I have also developed new Ph.D. seminars on Identity Politics, and on Experimental Methods. In addition, each year I have been the supervisor for 3-5 senior theses (25 in total; 17 written by students of color) and 2-3 junior research papers (another 25 in total; 19 by POC), independent research projects that every Politics Dept. major must complete in order to graduate. About half of these projects have been awarded significant grant money to carry out an original survey and/or survey experiment, and the vast majority have been focused on research questions related to race and ethnic politics or immigration. I have also served on the Politics senior thesis prize committee three times, on four Ph.D. dissertation committees, and I am currently the dissertation chairperson for a Princeton Ph.D. candidate.

Beyond the courses I have offered previously, I am prepared to teach undergraduate and Ph.D.-level classes online or in-person on a variety of topics, including American government and politics; immigration policy and politics; election law and voter turnout; race and ethnic politics; race and racism in the U.S.; political psychology; civic engagement; survey methods; Latino politics, policy and public opinion; experimental research design; and Latino studies. Last spring, I taught half of an undergraduate lecture course that met three times per week live via Zoom, as well as half of a Ph.D. seminar that met once per week live via Zoom. This fall, I am co-teaching a 142-student (plus 30 community auditors) introduction to American Studies lecture course with weekly pre-recorded lectures, live class-wide roundtable discussions via Zoom, and a live small-group discussion section via Zoom. I am also currently teaching an online research workshop for juniors in the Politics Department at Princeton who are conducting independent research on immigration policy and politics. For the spring semester (2021), I am re-designing my Immigration Politics and Policymaking course for an online format that will combine prerecorded lectures, live class-wide discussions, and online activities leveraging new technologies and creative approaches to pedagogy.

Indeed, even before the pandemic required a switch to online teaching, my courses regularly asked students to take significant ownership for their learning and engagement by requiring them to go beyond the classroom and apply course material to real-world political events. For example, in my Immigration Politics and Policymaking course (LAO/POL 334), students select a Congressional district to investigate throughout the semester, documenting and analyzing (1) their district's most recent election results and ethno-racial population demographics; (2) the social media and roll-call behavior of their district's member of Congress; and (3) their district's local news coverage of immigration. While these assignments often push the boundaries of students’ abilities, most students are eager for the chance to use their academic knowledge and relevant skills outside of the classroom.

I intend to continue my efforts empowering students to become knowledge producers by seeking to establish an interdisciplinary research group on migration and political engagement at my future institution. I would model this group on my experiences with two major service projects at Princeton. In the first, I led (with two other faculty) the establishment of a highly successful working group promoting experimental work on politics through small grants, research workshops, and practical skill sessions. Each year since its founding in 2013, I led significant fundraising efforts for our activities. In the second service project, I was one of the founding executive committee members of an interdisciplinary group of humanistic and social science faculty interested in broad themes related to migration and people moving across borders. Funded by a four-year grant, we organized weekly speaker series each semester, monthly discussion dinners, graduate advising lunches, and 1-2 large-scale conferences each year. Organizing a group of scholars and students at my next institution, modeled after these previous efforts, would help foster an important community with shared interests, motivation, and institutional support to tackle timely questions about the causes and consequences of immigration policy, politics, and engagement in national, state, and local politics.