Statement of Teaching Philosophy

An entry for Duke's STEAM video challenge by Ruici Ong, Tian Chan Dong, and Summan Mirza. Enjoy!
Student holding a Loggerhead sea turtle on a field trip to Pine Knoll Shores aquarium, 2013.

Student holding a Loggerhead sea turtle on a field trip to Pine Knoll Shores aquarium, 2013.

From the cityscapes of Hong Kong to the shores and forests of North Carolina, I bring teaching experience from a range of university environments: public, private, satellite campus, and international.  In all these environments, I have cultivated an adaptive classroom open to engagements with local and distant events, from excursions to ethnographically observe a sea turtle hatching to cross-cultural discussion of the 2008 presidential election. These activities figure as valuable nodes in the constellation of my course syllabi, an intentional gathering of texts that introduce ongoing intellectual conversations and facilitate student engagement.

Befitting my research interest in the ocean as an environment for thought, one of my primary goals in teaching is to help students develop the critical sensibility to analyze the construction of perspective in literature, science, and documentary film. I have found that this helps students consider their own involvement and interpolation as viewers or readers. When teaching BBC’s Human Planet, for example, I invite students to discuss the stakes of depicting “endangered human cultural practices” using filming techniques and a mode of narration typically reserved for animal documentaries. This led to conversations about race, class, and viewing privilege, which figured as part of broader course I designed on the literature and media of deserts and oceans. My course “Alien Sands and Seas” compared the aesthetics of how desert and ocean environments—rather than being opposites—have both been imagined as nomadic spaces of movement, and as science fictional spaces for unusual forms of life. 

Field trip with other visitors to the Rachel Carson Estuary Reserve, 2013.

Field trip with other visitors to the Rachel Carson Estuary Reserve, 2013.

It is also important to me that students have the opportunity to draw connections between their life experience and course material. I facilitate this by adapting classroom discussion to student matters of interest, and by designing activities that complement to course readings. I developed the course “Literature, Science, and the Sea” specifically in relation to the coastal environment of the Duke Marine Laboratory, pairing excursions with writing assignments and readings. For example, our kayaking fieldtrip to an estuary accompanied our reading of The Hungry Tide (Ghosh, 2005), which takes place in the delta between India and Bangladesh. Students wrote about how the tides shaped both our trip and the structure of the novel, how the estuary offered particular “niches” for both animals and characters, and about the fluidity of language and natural borders. For their final paper, students were asked to draw on their experience at the Duke Marine Lab and incorporate these observations into an analytical essay on one of our readings. 

As a teacher, I aim to provide a supportive, intellectually rigorous environment for students to develop as public writers and critical thinkers. In my teaching evaluations students have commented on the quality and openness of class discussions, and ranked highly “fostered a positive classroom atmosphere conducive to learning.” In a small seminar evaluation, one student wrote, “Professor Jue connected with all of us on a very personal level” and “does a great job structuring readings and lessons while also making room for unique changes in plans and incorporating them into the class' themes.”  I am eager to prepare students to become public writers, comfortable circulating their carefully worded ideas and analyses having learned that what they say genuinely matters.