My teaching, like my research, reflects an intense quest to understand comparative analysis of political institutions and processes, investigate similarities and differences in patterns of politics in Africa and impart the knowledge to college students. I consider the relationship between my research and teaching to be reciprocal, where research topics often arise from puzzles encountered in the classroom, which are clarifications that make little sense and thought-provoking students’ questions also leading to research statements. I use research to improve teaching by asking if research supports inferences that make sense pedagogically.

Two overarching objectives describe my teaching philosophy in the classroom; teaching as an art of motivation and teaching as stimulation of critical thinking. I borrow from Anatole France, who stated that ‘nine-tenths of education is encouragement.’ Throughout my teaching experience at the University of Central Florida, I realized that young people learn better when motivated by the ability to achieve their life aspirations. I used my lectures to encourage students to develop independence of thought and to prod them to voice those thoughts in a nonjudgmental environment.

Regarding lecture style, simulations, debates, and role-playing are a regular part of my classes. For instance, in my International African Politics class, a course I designed and taught entirely for two semesters (Spring 2018 and Fall 2018), I encouraged my students to become experts in an African country that fascinated them. I stimulated student-country experts to dig deeper into reading materials in their various countries, share their reflections, and pose questions to fellow experts. On topics of debatable nature, I often opted for group discussions. For instance, our lesson about Africa’s war spaces exposed the students to different levels of analysis problem regarding the conflict. I then separated the class into small groups and tasked each group to determine if a specific African conflict has a local, national, regional, or global level of analysis problem. I actively moderated the discussion around sensitive topics such as the slave trade and its effects on African politics and the African diaspora. I also required regular online discussion postings, pushing students further to go beyond mere summaries of the material.

The students I taught come from multicultural backgrounds, representing UCF’s overall diversity. About 50 per cent of students I taught come from minority backgrounds. As a black male, I am cognizant of the challenges that ethnic minorities face in academia; thus, I am committed to creating an environment that ensures all students are treated equally and are given the same chances to do well. My academic engagement activities, including course material selection, are designed with an eye on diversity, equity, and inclusion.