I love teaching, both inside and outside of the classroom. I collaborated with Anjal Chande, a dancer and choreographer, to create Out of the Shadows, an original work of modern Indian dance based on the history of colored cosmopolitanism and, in particular, the legacy of the feminist and anticolonial activist, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. Anjal performed the work at the Smithsonian and at Carnegie Mellon, and I had the pleasure of introducing the piece and discussing it with Anjal on stage.
At Carnegie Mellon, I have been fortunate to teach several courses that closely relate to my research:
“Education, Democracy, and Civil Rights” is an experimental course that brings together CMU students and high school students to learn together from an interdisciplinary mix of history, sociology, and educational theory. Together, in a non-hierarchical learning environment, we address our key question: what is the relationship between education and democracy?
“Sustainable Social Change: History and Practice” explores the history of efforts to create sustainable social change through nonviolent means. As part of this course, students design and implement creative, student-driven service projects.
“India Through Film” uses Indian movies to examine several key themes in India’s history. We focus on the twentieth century and on questions of democracy, diversity, and development.
“Global Histories: The Civil Rights Movement and the World” explores the relationship between the civil rights movement in the United States and social and political struggles in other parts of the world.
“India/America: Democracy, Diversity, and Development” examines how India and the United States, two of the world’s largest democracies, have been historically interconnected—culturally, economically, and politically.
“Barack Obama and the History of Race in America” uses President Obama’s writings and speeches, as well as a range of historical works, to examine key dimensions of the history of race and the struggle against racism within the United States.
“Gandhi and King: Nonviolent Leadership in a Globalized World” explores the relationship between the lives and careers of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and examines how ideas and social movements have flowed across national borders.
“India and the World” examines the history of modern India by probing the many linkages that have connected South Asia and the world over time.
As the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of History, I am currently helping to lead a major overhaul of our graduate program. We have designed new courses in Public and Applied History and in the Digital Humanities; replaced our qualifying exams with a portfolio process; and introduced a new fully-funded internship program. All of these changes aim to provide our students with a set of skills and experiences that will be useful within academia or beyond.
I love teaching because I love history and my students, but also because I love learning. Right now, I’m trying to learn my favorite classical guitar piece and how to play “Yesterday” by the Beatles on ukulele.