I believe that students’ motivation crucially depends on the conviction that they are working on issues which are relevant to society.’
Robin Pistorius is a senior lecturer and coordinator of the Honours and talent Programme in Political Science. He is also in charge of a course on global environmental politics and governance and the Bachelor’s thesis project on investigating risks and opportunities in the governance of natural resources.
‘I teach environmental governance and politics. Global Environmental Politics and Governance in Theory and Practice enables students to judge the applicability of theories on international relations and governance to today’s environmental issues. I also developed a BSc thesis research project with a practitioner-oriented focus, Investigating Risks and Opportunities in the Governance of Natural Resources. In this project, students write a BSc thesis drawing on a work placement at a designated organisation. Furthermore, I teach an Honours course from a more in-depth theoretical angle, Global Natural Resources Politics, Risk and Modernity.’
‘My teaching philosophy rests on four basic convictions. First, I believe that my teaching benefits from understanding what students already know and from finding creative strategies to tap into that knowledge. I consider myself not only a provider of knowledge but also (or rather) a facilitator in the students’ learning process.
Second, I believe that students’ motivation crucially depends on the conviction that they are working on issues which are relevant to society. As a result, my courses generally develop into a swarm of mini-projects geared at the knowledge, interests and experiences of individual students. This process is time consuming and often more eclectic than had been envisaged, but it is definitely fun!
Third, my task as a teacher is to motivate students to reach a level of independence where they have the desire to learn and think for themselves. Students on their part should be willing and able to communicate how they wish to connect newly acquired academic knowledge with their future careers outside the university.
Fourth and finally, as a scholar and a lecturer I feel that I have the responsibility to educate a citizenry which should be “literate” and competent in dealing with the many urgent and complex issues surrounding the environment and natural resources.
‘Both my teaching and my ideas of good education are based on an intimate connection between earlier academic work and a large number of advisory projects for national and international organisations. Customers range from ministries to the EU Commission and from Dutch NGOs to international consultancy firms. Many of my students benefit from the reports produced by this work and no less from the large professional network that it has generated.’