Regardless of their personal beliefs, my students develop the intellectual flexibility to understand the natural world and themselves with an evolutionary perspective. I help them to understand evolution as a framework to clarify the relationship between natural selection, human behavior, our ancestors, and our primate relatives. An additional goal is that students recognize that science is not a settled body of knowledge but a created and evolving process of uncovering deeper truths, and become comfortable with this ambiguity. In my classes, adopting and understanding an evolutionary framework comes through exploration, critical evaluation, and the production of ecological science.
In coursework and as a mentor, I emphasize basic scientific tools of observation, prediction, hypothesis testing, and offer ample opportunities to practice these skills so that students can draw their own conclusions. Successful teaching allows students to see their own concerns and lives reflected in the material. I make anthropology tangible, relevant and accessible for all my students, regardless of their background. The sweep of our discipline makes it easy to demonstrate a long and critical history of women and people of color researching, theorizing and impacting our understanding of human behavior and evolution. My job is to create opportunities for students to develop and express excitement about course material, to notice when that happens, and then to capitalize on their excitement by enhancing and enriching their experience.