Social Inquiry Department

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New political science and philosophy faculty seek to engage students

Posted on Feb 2, 2012
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New faculty members in the Social Inquiry Department include, from left, Dr. Sarah LaChance Adams, Dr. Alisa Von Hagel, and Dr. Daniela Mansbach.

New faculty members in the Social Inquiry Department include, from left, Dr. Sarah LaChance Adams, Dr. Alisa Von Hagel, and Dr. Daniela Mansbach.

By Elizabeth Reichert
University Relations student writer
  

Some people find talking politics or waxing philosophical an interesting pastime, but for three new faculty members in the Social Inquiry Department at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, it's an occupation and joy. Dr. Sarah LaChance Adams, Dr. Daniela Mansbach, and Dr. Alisa Von Hagel are bringing with them courses, goals, and hopes to continue strengthening the department's academic programs and the student body.

Dr. Sarah LaChance Adams

Dr. Sarah LaChance Adams is an associate professor of philosophy. She holds a doctorate degree from the University of Oregon and previously taught there. She teaches classes in philosophy and women's studies, including Contemporary Moral Problems; Enlightenment, Freedom; and Introduction to Women's/Gender Studies.

"I'm very excited to be coming here," LaChance Adams said. "I like in smaller institutions there's a chance to really get to know students."

Seeing opportunities for expansion and increased involvement, LaChance Adams' hopes for her department to offer additional philosophy courses and to broaden its group of philosophy students.

"To offer philosophy classes that are relevant to people's majors in other areas, to really relate to people's actual lives - philosophy has the potential to reach people in that way," LaChance Adams said.

She has already seen her hope of expanded course offerings begin to come true through some of the classes that she has brought to UW-Superior, including "Teaching of Social Justice" and "Philosophy of Children." However, she would like to see more.

She also wants students to view the department as a "place where they feel intellectually challenged, respected for their own thoughts, and stimulated to see the world in a new light," she said. "I would like to develop a robust group of philosophically engaged students, whatever form that takes."  

Dr. Daniela Mansbach

Dr. Daniela Mansbach is an assistant professor of political science who teaches courses in political science and women's studies, including Feminist Theory and Action and Theories of Human Rights. She holds a doctorate degree in political science from The New School for Social Research and taught in New York before coming to UW-Superior.

Mansbach wants her students to be successful in their coursework and personal development. This desire matches well with UW-Superior, which attracted her to the university.

"I liked how the teacher-oriented situation focuses a lot on students' openness to critical thinking," she said. "I like seeing the students feel more comfortable with material and not only understanding material but having the ability to say something and write [about it]."          

Mansbach's passion for her interests within her field of study carries into her teaching.  

"I want to develop political theory concretely, to make people less afraid of the word 'theory,' and to have students understand theory as a basic practice," she said.

Because Mansbach cares about her students' personal development, she especially wants to develop their political selves.

"Students think they don't know enough, so they feel they can't have opinion," she said. "I want them to not just get knowledge but feel they can have an opinion without all the books and to understand political commitment."        

Dr. Alisa Von Hagel

Dr. Alisa Von Hagel is an associate professor of political science and teaches both political science and women's studies courses. These include Women and Politics, Contemporary Issues: American Politics, and Congress and the Presidency. She holds a doctorate degree from Northern Illinois University and previously taught at the university level.

Von Hagel found appeal in UW-Superior's stress on diversity.

"I think the position was perfectly suited to my interests. They emphasized inclusivity and diversity which really attracted me," Von Hagel said. "It definitely lived up to those expectations of a diverse classroom."

She has enjoyed her students' involvement in the class and in the coursework. "They're very engaged, bringing in local and current events. It's great that students are so informed," she said. "The fact that they're willing to bring that into the classroom is wonderful."

Von Hagel wants to see student involvement increase. "I think it's important, even if people aren't political science majors, to get involved, to volunteer for political campaigns, to volunteer in local organizations - to build a culture that is involved," she said.

Along with increased involvement, Von Hagel wants students to know that she and her colleagues are open and accessible.

"I want to work with students to work around aspects of their lives in a meaningful way, to get them involved in lots of different efforts as much as possible," she said. "I want students to view me and our program as a group of faculty members that you can talk to about career plans or look to for courses or planning for grad school; as sources of information they can come to for advice."

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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