Conspiracy theories.  Where do they come from?  The C.I.A. killed President John F. Kennedy.  The Apollo 11 astronauts never landed on the moon.  A scientist created AIDS in a laboratory so it could be used as a biological weapon.  The federal government blew up the levies in New Orleans.  Last spring, a student expressed concern […]

When I returned to graduate school nearly a decade ago, I knew that teaching would be my career focus once I finished the program because it is my passion, and I believe that students deserve an instructor who makes them a priority.  So, I couldn’t help but feel insulted the evening that I heard a […]

Last weekend my friend and I went to an independent coffee shop we like that’s located near the University of St. Thomas campus in Houston’s active Montrose neighborhood.  While talking, I glanced over and noticed a young couple seated at an adjacent couch.  Both of them were so engrossed in their respective smartphones that they […]

Facilitators use it in workshops.  Job candidates say it during interviews.  Administrators use it in meetings.  Students even mention it in their course evaluations.  When I heard the words “critical thinking” (click here for a definition) again this week during a workshop, some important questions echoed in my mind: What does it really mean in […]

Feedback. I find it to be invaluable in multiple contexts. Each semester I encourage my students to complete the course evaluation because I want to know what they think about my class.  I instruct them to share whatever is on their minds as long as they’re thoughtful and respectful.  I’m not afraid of being critiqued.  […]

This fall we decided to have Center for Civic Engagement t-shirts screened to distribute to students at our campus events.  As coordinator, I felt that we should buy some that are manufactured in the United States to support jobs here at home and avoid contributing to worker mistreatment abroad.  Honestly, the massive amount of offshoring […]

Ah, the reformer’s mindset: when you see wrong, you want to make it right.  Our world is full of wrongs that need to be addressed, however sometimes good intentions and a well-crafted plan born of one’s conscience aren’t enough.  Dave Smalley once sang: “I try to make a dent, but it blends in with all […]

Last Thursday, our nation’s highest court made the right decision when it ruled against the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ request to put the Confederate flag on license plates here in Texas (news story with audio; text of the court’s opinion). While I’m an ardent supporter of free speech rights, this case is problematic. As someone […]

This past spring I taught Texas Government for the first time. Per my usual routine, I spent numerous evenings and weekends preparing the course content. After writing my presentation outlines, I search for supplemental materials such as maps, pictures, diagrams, graphs, political cartoons, video clips, and podcasts that I ask my students to interpret. In […]

Animal protection has been an important issue to me since college, but for years I predominantly focused on being an activist out on the streets. Sometime into my career as a high school teacher, I considered adopting a cat because I felt that I could provide one with a good home. Furthermore, I needed to […]

Last month I attended The Texas Tribune Festival at the University of Texas to learn more about public policy from a wide variety of knowledgeable people, including elected officials, journalists, attorneys, and members of advocacy groups. This is an incredible opportunity that I think all residents should take advantage of at some point to increase […]

Punk rock has encompassed leftist political elements dating back to its inception.  Unfortunately, the subculture can be just as sexist as the broader society that it emanated from.  In the late 1980s, a new group of young firebrands infused their radical feminist ideology into the music scene with the intention of illuminating problems that many […]

After watching the documentary, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, I felt compelled to learn more about George Jackson and his August 21, 1971 failed escape attempt from San Quinten State Prison in California. Paul Liberatore’s thoroughly researched, yet very accessible, The Road to Hell, explains far more than what happened that tragic day when […]

Recently I heard a dog barking and howling outside of my bedroom window. A number of people in my complex have them, so I figured another tenant must have brought home a puppy that needed to be housebroken. Then, while leaving for work one morning, a very noisy Chihuahua appeared and followed me down the […]

In graduate school I wrote an original manuscript entitled, “Elijah Parish Lovejoy: Anti-Catholic Abolitionist,” that I always wanted to submit to an academic journal as one of my professional goals.  Last fall I sent it to the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.  While I waited for feedback, the editor asked if I would […]