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Michael Onyebuchi Eze

BSc in Political Science

‘My ultimate goal is to educate the whole person as a free, resolute and capable individual in every circumstance and place – a global citizen.’

Michael Onyebuchi Eze is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam.

Michael Onyebuchi Eze
Photographer: Jeroen Doomernik

Which course(s) do you teach?

‘In the Bachelor’s programme, I teach a course on development politics and state formation in Africa. Protagonists of development aid to Africa have often argued that development is inevitably tied to democracy, the rule of law, stability and human flourishing. They claim that if this “development” is handled well, social upheavals and other political conflicts will disappear and socioeconomic progress and social harmony will be established. In my course we discuss how state formation is influenced by foreign policies as a precondition for aid and how these conditions have influenced the sovereignty of the state, politics and even democracy.’

What do you want students to learn?

‘As a teacher, I place premium value on guiding the students beyond the classroom. Nowadays, too much emphasis is often placed on the need to educate “employable” graduates. I think, however, that universities have a role in helping to restore the idea that education is not merely and wholly conceived as a means to an end but rather as an end unto itself.

Having studied and taught at smaller or larger universities and liberal arts colleges in Europe, Africa and the USA, I have come to appreciate the understanding that emerges from close interactions among students or between students and teachers. Coming from an interdisciplinary background comprising history, psychology, philosophy and political science, I have taught students from different disciplines. This taught me to appreciate the role of interdisciplinary procedures in communicating current and cutting-edge interpretations to learners.’

What do you think is the most important task of a teacher?

‘My ultimate goal is to educate the whole person as a free, resolute and capable individual in every circumstance and place – a global citizen. This understanding is at the heart of my teaching philosophy: to give our academic knowledge and scholarship a human face through holistic education and intellectual dialogue.

My aim is that by the end of the course, the students are not merely “educated” in the abstract “encyclopaedic” sense but have acquired critical skills for their subjective competence. Competence, as used in this context, is derived from the German word Bildung.

I derive much joy from teaching. Teaching is humanism. From teaching, we not only learn more about ourselves, but we are continually enriched by the embodied gifts of humanity in other people whom we encounter every day – colleagues, students, and so on. Teaching is in this sense strictly a vocation and not a profession.’