Building Bridges among Knowledge Silos

Scott Harrison

My work involves:

  • initiating and performing original independent and collaborative fact-based analytical research projects that contribute to deepening historical and contemporary knowledge;
  • creating bridges between academic disciplines and instigating dialogue among public and private practitioners in a wide variety of workplace sectors and milieus to inspire innovation;
  • coaching and teaching individuals and teams up to self-reliance so they can take ownership of their studies, athletics, and careers to reach higher levels of performance.

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Teaching Philosophy

The study of history is not merely memorizing dates and facts from the past so that they can be regurgitated at a later point. History can be learnt for the love of the past, but it also sheds light on the contemporary world, as historical legacies are always a part of our present. This is increasingly important, as people become ever more a part of the global community through work, travel, family, and friendships. History can help build cross-cultural understanding, help us see when history is used for political means, and understand consequences of doing so and to build solid policies for today and the future. Learning about history also serves as a tool for building a variety of skills that students can take with them as they move on. Reading historical texts and documents, writing historical papers, and giving presentations foster the development of analytical thinking, problem solving, effective oral and written communication, and qualitative analysis. Historically attuned students develop tools and skills to become more humanist and engaged citizens.

As someone who has taught a variety of instructional courses outside of academia, presented papers and lectures within my field, and fulfilled formal education in history and social sciences, I believe in the value of taking a multifaceted and interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Continually learning new teaching methods and strategies by incorporating those from colleagues and from professional instructional courses outside academia keeps my instruction fresh and effective. Students have different goals and expectations and it takes creativity and respect of the instructor to address diversity of needs, backgrounds, and aspirations. Lectures and teaching materials should be made relevant and progress in accordance with the audience and their level of study.

A core task of the scholar is to guide and coach students toward thinking critically and asking questions to measure evidence and interpretations of the material. I try to teach history in a manner that makes students curious about the topics at hand and ask new questions; I have found that students have more fun and gain more from the process when they take ownership of their studies and learning. This takes effort on part of the instructor to create lectures that coherently progress within each lecture and from one lecture to the next. For this purpose I use five-part instruction and whole-part-whole instruction to coherently and consistently break down and present material so that each portion of a lesson contributes to the purpose of the class. I regularly use Powerpoint with visually engaging images, documentary video and music, and bring in guest speakers to help engage the audience, stir their imagination, and address a variety of learning styles and perspectives. I see value in utilizing the Internet for posting course outlines and links to the increasing number of credible resources available for the study of history.

Teaching requires dialogue and engagement not only with the material at hand, but also between the teacher and students. I have learnt through my own experience as a student and coach for competitive sport that consistent enthusiasm, openness, respect, a balance of flexibility with fairness, encouragement, and an approachable instructor are essential components for developing constructive learning environments. In tutorials and seminars, I encourage students to ask questions and debate while I try to facilitate the dialogue and limit my comments, and do my utmost not to favour students with tendencies toward extroversion over those who require longer to process information before speaking. With so-called introverts representing one-third to one-half of the population, an instructor should not confuse quietness in class and discussion as shyness, lack of interest, or disengagement. A challenge here it to respect such tendencies while encouraging their participation. This can often be facilitated by directly talking with students outside of tutorials and coming up with a plan that maintains the integrity of the learning environment yet meets the needs of such students, or having each student participate in turn. Part of my aim as a teacher is to get students to think for themselves and learn how to read into historical issues rather than tell them what to do or think of the past and its influence on the present.

Throughout the process I learn along with the students, because I believe that teachers should be invested in life-long learning. My door is always open to discuss and help guide students through course material. University can feel like a detached learning process where student numbers have potential to become more important than names. So when possible I do my best to learn student names to encourage a more amicable and personalized learning experience. My success as a teacher and the learning of my students can be estimated as a function of human capacity multiplied by technical skills. Students will move on in various directions and it is my duty as a teacher to foster intellectual growth, integrity, and capacity to be engaged citizens through development of writing and thinking skills transferable to all walks of life. History is where all stories begin.

Research and Interests Keywords

Global History
Indigenous Peoples
Indigeneity
Indigenism
Global Cold War History
Asia Pacific
Ainu History
“Northern Territories” Dispute (Japan and Russia)
Minority Peoples
Human Rights
Modernity
Climbing
Coaching
Coffee
Fat Bikes
Governance
Policy
Arctic
International Relations
Canada-Asia Relations
Conflict Management / Resolution / Negotiation
Nuclear Arms Race / Nuclear Cycle History
Strategic Planning
Business Development
Management Best Practices
Water
Teaching, Coaching, Training Methodology
Routesetting
Sport Psychology
Mental Training
Japanese, Chinese Languages

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