PhD Richard Larry Whitehead

Richard L. Whitehead holds a Ph.D. from Temple University's Department of Political Science, with Democratization and African politics as area of specialization.

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My Teaching Philosophy?

My objective is to empower students to be socially conscious and informed participants in democratic life. During my first semesters as a teacher, I practiced a traditional lecturing style. Over time however, I developed courses with a greater emphasis on experiential learning. Together with some peer feedback, my experiences as a student and teacher told me that the more efficacious route for achieving my teaching objective needs to place the student as center of the learning process and teacher as a learning facilitator. My principle personal goal as an educator is to feel good about the quality of work I perform. Perhaps nothing measures that quality better than those times when students tell me “I had a heated debate last night with a friend over what was said in class yesterday about civil rights,” or “our class discussion on democracy made me rethink about what’s going on in Congress.” Feedback like this is why I love being an educator and why I give so much of myself to creating a course milieu conducive to student-centered learning and student empowerment.

For more information, read my entire teaching philosophy statement.


Courses Taught

I taught to a highly diverse student population in a wide selection of courses, including American government, comparative politics, international relations, and the politics of race. Since the developing world challenges some of our most widely held ideas about democratic governance, I’m especially animated about teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on comparative politics, the politics of Africa and Eastern Europe, and democratization. Here is a list of my Courses Taught.

The following links contain more information about my teaching interests.

American Politics

Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa

International Relations



Social Networking Sites as a Course Asset
Why Are Social Networking Sites so Important for Teaching?

I hear so many people from my generation complain about the amount of time young people spend on the internet. “I can never get Suzan off that computer. She’s always chatting with someone on Facebook. Most of her friends there are people she never even met in person.” The fact is however, young people are increasingly participating in social life through the internet and education should take social networking sites as a serious and legitimate venue for exchanging ideas and information between students and teachers.

I have always believed that educating is best served when teachers exploit tools that students are themselves most regularly using. For example, in the past I constructed multimedia course packets that contained video and audio clips of landmark speeches and footage of important political events. Informed by this belief, I would like to integrate social networking sites into future courses I teach. Social networking sites are powerful tools for engaging young adults in a medium they most frequently use. Twitter, Facebook, and Digg for example, are excellent resources for making newsfeeds and discussion groups about news articles and class material. The links below contain some examples of how social networking sites could be easily implemented in course design.

There is one important note to incorporating technology in courses. Not all students have the same level of computer skills and the same access to the internet at home. Using technology should always try to take into account the demographics of the class population and the level of services offered by the university. Are computer labs or library computers easily accessible during evening hours? Does the university restrict access to social networking sites? The worst possible scenario is to have students feel left out.

Examples of how to use social networking sites in course teachings.


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