The New International Studies Classroom: Active Teaching, Active Learning

By Jeffrey S. Lantis; Lynn M. Kuzma et al. | Go to book overview

17 Reflections on Teaching
and Active Learning

Ole R. Holsti

Impressive common elements as well as considerable diversity mark the preceding chapters. The most important shared features are the imagination and enthusiasm that the authors bring to their seminars and classrooms. Although one of the world's worst-kept secrets is that the professional rewards for excellence in teaching pale in comparison to those for research, these chapters provide eloquent testimony to the creativity that the authors bring to their students.

The end of the Cold War no doubt played a role in stimulating new thinking about approaches to teaching international relations, but probably the effect was as often indirect as direct. When such events as the disintegration of the Soviet Union required a major overhauling of syllabi, assignments, and lectures—the familiar features of most traditional classes—they may also have made instructors more open to new ideas about approaches to teaching: as long as major changes in course content were required, why not go one step further and rethink approaches to teaching international relations and foreign policy? Overall, however, the driving force behind the innovative approaches discussed above appears to be as much an interest in the learning process as in the state of the international system. Thus, even had the Cold War not ended, the issues and approaches discussed in the preceding chapters would merit serious consideration.

Diversity is also evident, as these chapters span some of the oldest and newest approaches to instruction. Case-based teaching (Part 1) has been a staple approach in professional schools for many

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