Teaching Philosophy

El-Shazli Teaching Philosophy

I thoroughly enjoy teaching and particularly the interaction between teacher and students with the knowledge, facts and information being exchanged, questions being asked for clarification and then the smile on the faces and the twinkle in the eye when you see that the information/knowledge has been received and understood.  I also appreciate the nexus between research and teaching.  I weave my research interests into my teaching.

My objectives: 

To inspire a life-long curiosity and learning to continue beyond the courses I teach on: International Relations; Comparative Politics; Impact of Globalization; The Role of Civil Society in Transitioning and Democratizing Nations; Global Social Movements; State, Society and Culture in the Arab World; Political Islam; International Political Economy; and the Politics of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).  I am also interested in helping my students learn to critically analyze and think about the situation in the MENA region and how they, as future leaders and policy-makers, can contribute to improved relationships and understanding leading to improved foreign policy.  I am interested in delving into history, politics and socio-cultural topics with my students in order to gain a holistic understanding of this most complex region and its international relations with the rest of the world. 

My teaching philosophy is as follows:

  1. Create an environment in the classroom that is conducive to learning, enjoyment of the information and discussion.  It is very important for me to engage the students in discussion of the various issues introduced in the courses that I teach.  So lectures are kept to a minimum and there is more discussion taking place in my classroom with questions being posed and answered and thoughts being shared and debated.  The classroom will be considered as a place for our learning – both for me and the students – it will be our classroom.
  2. To use a variety of teaching methods/styles to add variety and keep students engaged.  For example; I will use debates format with the students debating the finer points of the issues that we are discussing. I will use small working groups and then reporting to the whole class.  I will use one on one learning for example, peer to peer review on certain assignments.
  3. To complement course content by sharing information and real world experiences from my 30-years in the field of Middle East politics and international affairs.  I will bring in expert speakers from my former professional work world and have them share their views and experiences with students.
  4. To remind the students that they are scholars in the topic and they are adding to their knowledge or perfecting their knowledge – this gives them a boost to their ego and confidence and then we can take it from there and build upon it during the semester.
  5. To encourage students to learn from each other – have students ask questions of the teacher, but also to each other.  I ask students to prepare oral presentation using power-point presentations or other teaching tools.
  6. To help contribute to the effort to make education significant and to help contribute to my students becoming “life-long learners” through giving them a thorough bibliography of well-written books, news articles and scholarly journals to further enhance their knowledge. I will organize trips to the MENA region, so that my students can see with their own eyes and ask the people we meet there about their lives, politics, and overall conditions.  I was able to take a group of my students and other faculty on a study tour to Egypt from December 2010 to January 2011.
  7. To create a learning climate of intrinsic motivation through taking students to meet with leaders and policy-makers in the field of international relations so they can see for themselves what their education could lead to.  (I took a group my students to Washington, DC in October 2010, to meet with Middle East experts at the Department of State and Council on Foreign Relations).
  8. To work with students to help them with time management i.e. use time more effectively and efficiently.  I will give them assignments that specifically deal with time management and we will then discuss in class.
  9. To ensure an atmosphere that is respectful and cognizant of diversity within our community. We will discuss the different ethnic, religious and political views in the MENA region, using political cartoons, YouTube videos of speeches, music, and personal testimonies by people from the region itself speaking about themselves, their work and how they feel about the West in particular.
  10. To incorporate new media technologies to enhance and contribute to learning in an appropriate manner.  The learning technologies to be used will be determined by the course content and students’ needs and interests.


Why are these important to me? 

I want to contribute to the improved understanding and knowledge of future generations about International Relations, Political Islam, Social Movements, The Role of Civil Society, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: its people, history, culture, economy and politics.  It is imperative in the coming years for our future leaders and policy-makers to interact with theory and practices of international relations.  In addition, it is imperative to comprehend the MENA region based on sound knowledge, an understanding of the issues, based on facts – not fear, and with a vision of building bridges.