Teaching

Since 2009, I have taught sixteen sections of six different courses and supervised fourteen independent studies and four internships. Specifically, I have taught Principles of Public Relations (7x), Advanced Public Relations (3x), Principles of Advertising, a graduate seminar in Organizational Discourse, a graduate seminar in Communication and Security, and the Maymester travel study course, Narratives of the New China (2x). I have overhauled (or developed first-hand) these courses (excluding Narratives of the New China), taught three of these courses at the International College Beijing campus in China (Principles of Public Relations, Advanced Public Relations, and Principles of Advertising), and updated and aligned the department’s Organizational Communication and Public Relations pathway courses in response to rapidly changing economic and technological conditions. Additionally, I have served as the advisor of record for six MA students, as well as a comprehensive exam committee chair for three MA students and exam/thesis defense committee member for fourteen MA students and one Ph.D. student. I have received strong reports of my teaching from several peers, and my instructor and overall course ratings are consistently above department, college, and university averages.

I teach courses that engage organizational communication phenomena. Principles of Public Relations introduces students to the concepts, theories, and practices of public relations, and Principles of Advertising introduces students to communication designed to persuade audiences to consume products and services or adopt beliefs and attitudes. The courses focus on community service organizations in order to support the college’s stated goal of promoting caring, empathy, compassion, nurturing, collegiality and mentoring among students. The Advanced Public Relations course requires students to master a nine-phase strategic planning process in the context of developing a comprehensive public relations campaign for an actual organization. This course also emphasizes community enterprises in accordance with the college’s goal of conducting teaching and learning that supports the public good. The principles of inclusion, diversity, and social justice underwrite the selection of assignments and community partners. For example, in Fall 2013, COMM 4635/5635 Principles of Public Relations students developed PR proposals for the following organizations:

Amnesty International, Cu Denver Chapter
Auraria Ski & Ride
Campus Recreation at Auraria, Outdoor Adventure Department
Chinese Students and Scholars Association
CU Denver Advising Center
CU Denver Cycling Club
CU Denver Experiential Learning Center
CU Denver Hispanic Scholarship Fund
CU Denver Ice Hockey Team
Hawaii Club of Auraria
Headbands of Hope
Lambda Pi Eta, CU Denver Chapter
Music Industry Student Association
NAACP, Auraria Chapter
The Hogwarts Irregulars
Volunteer Fair, CU Denver Office of Student Life

At the graduate level, I am fortunate to teach seminars directly related to my doctoral training in Organizational Discourse and Communication and Security. Organizational Discourse uses experiential learning techniques (as well as an appreciative inquiry approach, the World Café) to provide students with a substantive overview of major theoretical, methodological, and topical themes in organizational discourse research: power, control, resistance, identity, participation, change, leadership, and globalization. Several independent study projects have resulted from this course, and I recently co-authored a research article with two graduate students published in the Southern Communication Journal. I am currently teaching a new graduate seminar, Communication and Security. This course draws upon my expertise in national security affairs. Bridging undergraduate and graduate levels, in 2012 and 2013, I taught a Maymester travel study course, Narratives of the New China. The purpose of the Narratives course is to provide students with first-hand experience in analyzing the stories used by China to construct and transform public memory and national identity as the country assumes its role as a global leader.

In the future, I look forward to strengthening course offerings in the Organizational Communication and Public Relations pathway through refining existing courses and developing new ones in line with the department’s needs and objectives. Toward this end, I am currently pursuing Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in order to enhance my public relations teaching and service capabilities.

Teaching Philosophy and Growth

I received outstanding mentorship throughout my academic endeavors. I now seek to “pay it forward”—a duty that I take seriously. I view teaching as both an honor and a great responsibility. My teaching philosophy has been influenced by Parker J. Palmer’s argument that good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher and cannot be reduced to technique. My experiences living abroad and working for organizations including engineering companies, commercial banks, non-profit organizations, federal agencies, and Fortune 500 corporations have enriched my teaching. I continue to gain relevant experience and knowledge through participation in public relations industry events (such as True Spin, a national conference on communications for progressives), online professional development courses (such as DIOSA Communications and Cision webinars on social media best practices for nonprofit organizations), and subscriptions to industry publications that offer teaching ideas and examples.

I believe that trust is necessary in order to successfully encourage students to set and achieve high expectations for themselves. I develop and demonstrate trust with students by taking a sincere interest in their growth and wellbeing—working with them individually during office hours and outside of these times to help them meet their objectives. I also believe that concrete experience and community service enhance learning. Students benefit from integrating the knowledge and skills that they acquire in the classroom with organizational situations off campus. This perspective led me to institutionalize community engagement as part of our department’s public relations and advertising curriculum. Through this initiative, hundreds of students have participated in community engagement activities as part of their coursework. These activities have linked students’ education to social issues within the Denver community (as well as state, national, and international communities). In Spring 2013, our Advanced Public Relations class worked with one of the world’s leading public relations agencies, Ogilvy, to develop strategic communication proposals for the City of Chengdu in China. These proposals addressed issues of ecology, equity, and enterprise. Such experiences vividly demonstrate to students the concept of exigence—the idea that important social problems can be addressed, in part, through informative and persuasive communication. Such initiatives enact the university’s goal of encouraging students to create, discover, and apply knowledge to improve the health and wellbeing of Colorado and the world.

I also believe that teaching and learning are shared activities. The process of teaching involves moving students towards an intended learning outcome. While learning with purpose, students can also discover unexpected opportunities for insight and innovation along the way. I strive to make the most of these opportunities in order to connect course concepts and student experiences in ways that are immediate and meaningful. For example, on the spur of the moment, I asked several students to demonstrate some of their social media practices during an Advanced Public Relations class session attended by our Department Chair, Dr. Stephen Hartnett. This occasion led directly to the department’s official use of Facebook as a communication channel in 2011. As a class, we also used the occasion to discuss the benefits and challenges of social media management within organizations. Such unscripted moments often allow teachers and learners to switch roles. Students learn from each other, and I often structure activities and assignments to enable students to form interpersonal connections.

Finally, my teaching enacts the principle of engagement, i.e., bringing into play the cognitive, emotional, and physical elements of different learning styles. My teaching experiences have confirmed for me the value of bringing multiple learning styles together to promote learning outcomes that endure. Since joining the Department of Communication, my teaching methods have become more diversified, inclusive, experiential, and translatable. In other words, I have increasingly incorporated examples, case studies, assignments, and discussions that engage issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. I have aimed to make course concepts tangible and immediately applicable to other areas of students’ professional and academic lives. For example, I used a form of appreciative inquiry (“World Café”) in a graduate seminar that several students later implemented within their own organizations to creatively address problems and opportunities. I have also made adjustments to my teaching each semester in response to particular student feedback (e.g., using a new textbook; discussing assignments more thoroughly and multiple times before their due dates, etc.) and peer feedback (ensuring that my lesson planning allows for spontaneity and in-depth discussions).

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Associate Professor of Communication and Director, International Studies Program

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