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Guest Speakers in the Classroom

During the last few years, I’ve invited advanced graduate students, former students, and colleagues to give presentations in my classes. And, for the most part this has worked well. It’s good to give the graduate students an opportunity to present their research in a relatively small, safe space. They get a line on their CV and I can write a letter of support. Having community members come in is also instructive, since most students become insulated in the campus community and at times forget about the vibrant larger community that the campus is only one part of.

Having colleagues in the classroom is also useful to demonstrate to the students that there is a community of scholars on campus or in the region. This might widen their understanding of the materials or at the very least impart this sense that the instructor is part of a community. The other reason to invite a guest is to have someone else come in and speak to their particular areas of interest and expertise that are usually different from you own. The students get a different perspective on course material. Now, I’m venturing into a different point, but it does fit.

On a related note, I explain to the students that there are approximately one dozen Political Scientists outside of the Political Science department at #UVIC. The only way they might know this is by this announcement. They might realize that they will find other Political Scientists in Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies, Education, and Indigenous Governance to name a few at #UVIC. Likewise, I will announce these colleagues upcoming courses, so that students in the department can take more upper division courses outside of the department. They need to take the courses anyway–so why not share information? Why not make suggestions?

The guest speaker can also pique students’ curiosity to learn more about the information. Maybe this is a form of intellectual networking for the speaker, but for the student it is an educational moment for them to learn more.

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