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Two PhD Students to Sample Faculty Life at a College

April 2, 2013

Alexandra King and Niki Clements

Alexandra King and Niki Clements will teach at Wheaton College in 2013-14, through the Graduate School’s partnership with the Norton, Massachusetts, college.  As Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows, the doctoral students will exercise the teaching skills modeled and cultivated at the University while experiencing faculty life at a liberal arts college.

“I cannot say enough about the value of this program,” said Gail Sahar, Associate Provost and Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College. The collaborative intellectual exchange “gives Wheaton the opportunity to benefit from the innovative contributions of the outstanding graduate students who join our community for a semester, and those graduate students gain invaluable first-hand experience teaching at a liberal arts college.”  

King is “thrilled” to receive the Brown-Wheaton Faculty Fellowship. “I am really looking forward to the chance to work with new colleagues and improve my teaching through the fellowship,” she added.

Through the program, advanced doctoral candidates teach a one-semester course and participate in the intellectual life of the college. The experience provides a better understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of academic life at a four-year, liberal arts college, which can be different than those at a research institution such as Brown.

“We want our graduate students to have a variety of avenues and resources to develop their teaching prowess,” said John Tyler, the Graduate School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

King, currently a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Philosophy, will teach a course in Epistemology for Wheaton’s Philosophy Department in the fall semester. King structured the course after the department signaled interest in the topic. The department was impressed by the creativity she used in choosing texts and considering how best to engage students in critically evaluating them, according to Sahar, who oversees the partnership for Wheaton College.   

Niki Clements, currently a fifth-year candidate in Religious Studies, will teach her self-designed course, "Demons, Melancholy, and Madness" for Wheaton’s Religion Department in the spring semester.  Wheaton values interdisciplinary connections, said Sahar, and the department is excited to offer this course connecting religion with psychology and cognitive neuroscience.  Clements said she intends to work with students to connect historical and theoretical texts with contemporary conversations about public service and contemporary cultural discourse. 

Six graduate students applied to the program, seeking to teach in five different Wheaton departments in the arts and humanities and natural sciences. Wheaton and the Brown Graduate School collaborated on the selection of the two faculty fellows, with significant input from Wheaton academic departments.  

At Brown, the program is administered by the Graduate School and the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

~By Beverly Larson