Innovation in Teaching

By Elizabeth Romero, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Professor Perry Link, a highly acclaimed professor at Princeton, is now a professor at UCR in Comparative Literature.

Professor Link has been selected as the Chancellorial Chair for Innovation in Teaching Across Disciplines. The idea behind the Chancellorial Chair is to intertwine different subjects with different teaching strategies that will  more fully engage students. It was  established three years ago through an anonymous donor to draw attention to the need to take teaching seriously and to bridge academic disciplines.

Link was nominated by his colleague Professor Yenna Wu, and later received, quoting Link, a "tentative offer, and a few months after that a final offer, [and he] accepted. From [his] side it was all very smooth, simple, and pleasant". After accepting the "smooth, simple and pleasant" offer, Link’s main goal is to use his position to promote the spirit on which the Chair was founded.

Learning begins with humble origins, and foundations are crucial. Link believes that if teachers agree teaching is important "then teaching right at the bottom level perhaps matters most". Staying true to his beliefs, Link is now teaching two sections of Chinese 1 as well as Comparative Literature 301, which focuses on the philosophy, methods, and principles of language teaching. Link states that "language-learning relates to the interdisciplinary ideal of the Chancellorial Chair as well, because, if one is studying a foreign culture or society, solid language learning is a key to success regardless of discipline".

Professor Link wants to create his own class that incorporates different disciplines. His planned interdisciplinary course on contemporary China will use history, language, literature, art, economics, politics, and sociology to understand the many components of China. He wants to work with other colleagues to set up seminars that ask questions that can be answered through the perspectives of different subject matter, such as "What is it to be human?," a question that can be approached through philosophy, linguistics, religion, brain science, and many other fields.

Chancellorial Chair for Innovation in Teaching Across Disciplines Perry Link believes that if "faculty can talk to one another across these disciplinary lines, I think we can also begin to teach across them, if not by teaching jointly, then at least by importing the perspectives of others into our own classrooms".

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