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I got into this business because of my love of the classroom.  As a student, I was inspired by wonderful teachers who explained the value of historical inquiry, AND who could tell a good story!

A uniquely rewarding challenge for me is to leverage the study of Chinese history, and Chinese environmental history in particular, to an empowering liberal education.  The teaching of Chinese history is important for a couple of reasons. China has been a civilization that has provided context for a significant number of people for a significant period of time. Furthermore, China will continue to play pivotal global political, cultural, and economic roles.  As such, a critical goal of my teaching is to foster an awareness of tradition and transformation in a culture foundational to global affairs. My research on environmental history has generated a set of new courses such as “China and the Environment” (2008-10), a seminar for high-achieving students funded by a Berry Family Faculty Excellence Award (2008-10).  The learning goals of the course centers on how different disciplines approach the study of environmental change, and how multidisciplinary approaches can illuminate environmental issues in China.  The experiences of that course led to two additional new courses: “The Environmental History of East Asia,” and “Global Environmental History.”

My teaching has been recognized with several awards, including a College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Achievement in International Research, Teaching and Service Award (2010-11), a University College Common Reading Program Excellence Award (2011), the aforementioned College of Liberal Arts Berry Family Faculty Excellence Fellow Award (2008-10), and Distinguished Member (award), The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (for teaching, 2005).

I have directed several PhD dissertations focused on the environmental history of modern China, and have served on a variety of dissertation committees for MA and PhD students focused on Japan, or East Asian more broadly, environmental history (in other regions), and the history of technology.  I welcome inquiries from potential graduate students interested in the environmental history of China.  

I also have a partcular interest in extending the classroom.  I have developed or co-developed six K-12 teacher training seminars focused on integrating East Asia into humanities/social science curriculum (two NEH-funded seminars).  I have also participated in community classroom initiatives such as Humanities Week (UA), and this coming winter (2020), a five-week public classroom on modern China (UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences).  

Courses Taught

Here is a catalog of the courses I've taught over the years:


"Animal Histories" (in development)

“Introduction to History”

“Modern East Asia”

“Environmental History of East Asia”

“Modern China”

“Communist China”

“Chinese Civilization”

“Experience and Memory: Remembering Youth” (Honors College)

“Dimensions of Globalization: States, Societies, and Institutions”

"The East is Red: The Life and Times of Mao Zedong" (Honors College)

“Asia in the Pacific Northwest” (Honors College)

"Introduction to East Asian Cultures"

"From Mao to Deng: China since 1949"

"Revolutionary China" 

"History of Technology and Social Change"

"Global Environmental History"

"Field Course in Modern Chinese History" (graduate course)

"Creating a Multi-Disciplinary Learning Community: China and the Environment" (Berry Family Seminar)

"Introduction to East Asian History"

Please see my article in EAA about the Yellow River here

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