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The Carletonian

Six Visiting Professors to Leave After Guest Teaching Spring Term

<m, six new visiting professors are teaching on campus across six different subject areas. These faculty members were hired exclusively for spring term 2018. 

Among this term’s visiting professors are husband and wife Rick and Catherine Asher, who are sharing the title of Benedict visiting professor in the studio art and art history department. Carleton keeps a special endowment fund which is afforded to the Benedict Visiting Professor(s).

According to the Dean of the College Office’s website, Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professors are “scholars of distinction who could enrich our teaching programs and stimulate their Carleton faculty colleagues.”
 Before coming to Carleton, the Ashers taught at the art department at the University of Minnesota. Catherine began her teaching career at Carleton in the 1980s, teaching classes in Indian and Islamic art.

“It was exciting to return so many years later and see all the new buildings on campus as well as older ones,” said Catherine.

Catherine Asher currently teaches classes on three 16th- and 17th-century Islamic dynasties, while her husband is teaching a class on Buddhist art in India. While Catherine enjoys the smaller classes at Carleton, the biggest challenge for her has been adjusting to teaching on a trimester system, she said.

In the environmental studies department, John C. Dernbach is teaching classes on sustainable development and environmental law and policy. Dernbach previously taught at Widener University in Pennsylvania.

He is, in many ways, an expert in the field of environmental law and sustainable development. Dernbach was a member of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Commission on Environmental Law, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems, and has also worked with the National Academy of Sciences for Sustainability.

Additionally, Dernbach has authored books and articles focused on sustainability, most notably Agenda for a Sustainable America.

While Dernbach has plentiful experience teaching, this is his first experience with teaching undergraduates.
“I’ve had to make a number of adjustments to how I teach because of this. There’s definitely more flexibility with teaching undergraduates,” said Dernbach.

Despite adjusting his teaching style, Dernbach said he has been enjoying his time here.

“One of the best parts is teaching interesting and thoughtful people at an important stage in their lives. Carleton lives up to its reputation, and I see that everyday in the classroom,” he said.

Heather Pangle is visiting in the political science department this term and is teaching three classes focused on political philosophy. Before coming to Carleton, Pangle completed her PhD on political philosophy and American politics, and taught at Middlebury College.

On coming to Carleton, Pangle was eager to begin teaching, she said.
“I was excited to have the opportunity to teach small classes and to work with the smart, conscientious students at Carleton,” said Pangle.

“Teaching at Carleton has been a real pleasure,” said Pangle. “What really stands out are the great conversations I have had with students in office hours.”

Pangle, echoing Catherine Asher’s statements, mentioned the challenging aspects of the trimester system.
“The most challenging part of my experience has been balancing the desire to dive deep into a great text of political thought while also trying to expose students to a wide array of thinkers,” said Pangle. “There’s never enough time to cover all the material you want to discuss!”

Among the other visiting professors this term are Clarence Walker and Hubert Cook.

Walker, another Benedict Visiting Professor, is teaching two history classes, “African American History II,” and “Slavery in Film, Literature, and History.”

Cook is teaching two English class, “Fugitive James Baldwin” and “Writing Empathy/Writing Black Life.” He previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania.

Neither Cook nor Walker were available for comment.

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