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  • Edward R. Slack
    Edward R. Slack
    Professor
    PAT 103-M
    Phone: 509.359.7954

    Specializations: Chinese History, East Asian History, World History

     

    Teaching Philosophy

    My philosophy of teaching is not something that I can sum up in a few words or so.  As a scholar who specializes in East Asian history, I see my role as that of a cultural broker, a bridge to foreign cultures and also a lens through which "the other" is refracted.  Having spent over half of my life learning about East and Southeast Asia, living in Taiwan, mainland China, and Hawaii, plus having a family that is literally one-half Chinese (my wife is Chinese and my son one-half), I can speak with an authentic authority about matters related to my profession.  Confucius [Kong Qiu] once said "Enliven the ancient, and also know what is new; then you can be a teacher."  Perhaps this sagely advice still resonates with relevancy in our day, despite the fact that the twenty-first century world is vastly different from the times of East Asia's greatest teacher.

    I feel that to be a successful educator I must blend many diverse elements together to create an effective learning environment, a methodology that I term the "alchemy of teaching." These basic elements include knowledge, organization, delivery of information, interaction with the students, expanding their understanding and worldview, and promoting critical thinking skills, to name but a few.  My grand objective is that students take something more from the classroom than just a grade that fulfills a certain academic requirement.  Whether it is a new appreciation for an "exotic" culture, or an improvement in their writing skills, students need a class that was meaningful or worthwhile to them in some way, shape, or form.  Ultimately, this is the supreme test, in my mind, to being an effective educator.

    Although my earlier scholarship focused on opium in Republican China, for the past decade I have embarked upon an exploration of the forgotten cultural exchanges between China, the Philippines and New Spain (colonial Mexico) from the late sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century.  My areas of teaching and research interests are Ancient to Modern China, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and World history.  I employ a comparative approach that examines national or regional histories in a global context.  The courses that I currently teach at EWU are:

    HIST 103: World History from 1500; HIST 104: East Asia - Tradition and Transformation; HIST 310: Imperial China; HIST 311: Colonialism and Nationalism in Southeast Asia; HIST 410: China in the 19th and 20th Centuries; HIST 411: Democracy and Human Rights in Asia; HIST 416: Modern Japan; HIST 490: Senior Capstone - Drugs in World History; HIST 515: Graduate Seminar on World History

             

     

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