I have designed and taught six courses since starting graduate school at Carnegie Mellon. My course portfolio includes Introduction to Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, and Ethical Judgments in Professional Life. My classes aim to develop each student’s ability to communicate philosophical arguments and critiques clearly and concisely, and engage students in constructive discussions of contemporary ethical and political issues.
A majority of the students I have taught are not philosophy majors, or majors in a humanities field. Because these students are not accustomed to reading and writing philosophy, I have structured my courses to be very transparent about the course direction and goals. Every time the class begins a discussion of a new topic, we discuss how the new material relates to the old. I’ve found that the students appreciate having a road map of the concepts we discuss. This practice serves to reinforce the main takeaways from class discussions, and give students a sense of how the current course topics relate to what is coming next. Then, on the last day of class, I have the class think back to the beginning of the semester, and we trace the progression of the course together. This narrative-style approach is also reflected in my course assignments. Written assignments like essays and blog posts are structured so as to slowly “build up” to writing an original, philosophical argument, a task which most of the students in my classes have never done before. You can read more about my teaching methods in my statement on teaching philosophy.
The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon offers a program called the Future Faculty Program, which “helps graduate students develop and document their teaching skills in preparation for a faculty career.” This program involves seminars on strategies for improving student learning, a course design project, and teaching observations and feedback. FFP has provided me with valuable teaching feedback from both students and teaching consultants. I completed the FFP in the spring of 2016. You can read my FFP transcript, a letter confirming my completion of the program, and example feedback from students and Eberly teaching consultants. This feedback is the result of a focus group that was done with the students in my Social Structure, Public Policy, and Ethics class in the spring semester of 2016. Since the spring of 2017, I have acted as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Eberly Center, assisting graduate student instructors and TAs improve their teaching by providing course observations and teaching workshops.
Below you can read about my classes and look at sample syllabi. Course evaluation summaries are listed at the bottom of this page. You can also review my course evaluations in full here.
Introduction to Philosophy (80-100)
Major course topics: epistemology, rationality, self & identity
This course provides an introduction to the study of philosophy. Throughout the semester, we will ask questions surrounding the nature of the mind, knowledge, and identity, and discuss the implications of those questions for our interpersonal relationships and for our social and political communities. The course uses classical and contemporary philosophical texts, case studies, and empirical evidence to consider these questions.
Taught: Spring 2017
Ethics and Global Economics (80-247)
Major course topics: international trade, capitalism, distribution of wealth
This course will examine contemporary ethical issues in global economics, and consider what obligations states and individuals have in resolving those issues. Along the way, we will ask questions like: What are the advantages and disadvantages of international trade? What do economically and technologically advanced states owe developing states? To answer these and other questions, we will apply ethical frameworks to a series of case studies in global economics. Readings will be drawn from philosophy, economics, political science, and public media (newspapers, magazines, etc.).
Ethical Judgments in Professional Life (80-241)
Major course topics: business ethics, medical ethics, moral obligations of professionals and professional institutions
This class explores the nature of moral obligations in professional life. In particular, we will discuss what professional obligations individual professionals and professional institutions have. We will begin by surveying several competing ethical theories. We will then use these theories to address several questions regarding the nature of moral obligations in business, medicine, and government professions. Some questions we will consider are the following: what moral obligations do employers have to their employees? What do business and governments owe the greater public? How ought physicians and clinical researchers treat patients and research subjects? The course uses ethical and political theory, case studies, and empirical evidence to consider these questions.
Taught: Summer 2016
Social Structure, Public Policy and Ethics (80-136)
Major course topics: political equality, political representation, global democracy
The course will consider ethical questions surrounding social structure and public policy. It will analyze the role of political institutions and individual citizens in dealing with some of the greatest challenges facing our world, in particular with respect to democracy and democratic representation. Some of the questions we will consider include: What does it mean to be “equal” as citizens? What do representatives owe their constituents? How can we ensure equality and justice in a multicultural world? The course uses ethical and political theory, case studies, and empirical evidence to consider these questions.
Taught: Spring 2016
Introduction to Ethics (80-130)
Major course topics: objectivism vs. subjectivism, ethics of public healthcare, human rights
We frequently grapple with difficult moral questions. How should I treat my friends and family? What kinds of policies should our government adopt? When, if ever, can we justify harm? These are the kinds of questions we will consider as we survey the most prominent, contemporary ethical theories. We will delve into particular ethical theories and determine the benefits and downsides of each. Along the way, we will consider the implications of those theories for real world ethical issues.
Taught: Summer 2014, Fall 2015
Introduction to Political Philosophy (80-135)
Major course topics: pluralism, political justice
Political philosophers attempt to define the relationship between individuals and their state. In particular, these philosophers determine how the state ought to represent its citizens. This class will focus on the most fundamental and influential political philosophical texts from the Ancient Greeks to modern-day writers. We will attempt to answer questions about how a state can be justified, how individualism and rights are to be protected in such a state, and whether individuals have political or moral obligations to one another or to that state.
Taught: Summer 2013
I have acted as a TA or grader for the following courses at CMU:
Social Structure, Public Policy, and Ethics (Instructor: Dr. Patricia Rich, Spring 2013)
Environmental Ethics (Instructor: Dr. Mara Harrell, Fall 2013)
Ethical Theory (Instructor: Dr. Alex John London, Spring 2014)
Ancient Philosophy (Instructor: Dr. Robert Cavalier, Fall 2014)
Faculty Course Evaluations
At Carnegie Mellon, students may voluntarily provide anonymous feedback on courses that they have taken on “Faculty Course Evaluations.” Below are some excerpts from student evaluations of my classes . You can see the evaluations in full here.
Introduction to Political Philosophy
“Great class with interesting and relevant reading material. Aidan was super engaging and was an absolute pleasure to work with and learn from.”
“The instructor presented the material in a very accessible manner and applied concepts to present, real-world issues… I would highly recommend this instructor for to any student–at any level–as well as consider courses being offered under her instruction for myself in the future.”
“I was really happy I took this course and thought that Aidan did a wonderful job at teaching the material. It was my first time being exposed to philosophy and taking a course like this, but she was very encouraging made the sure everything was explained very clearly each class. This was definitely one of the best humanities courses I have taken and I hope I can take another course with Aidan”
Introduction to Ethics
“Aidan consistently brought energy to every class and made the course material applicable to contemporary issues.”
“I really enjoyed this class. Philosophy is definitely a personal favorite of mine. If I had to make any suggestions, it would be more small group discussions, because it makes it easier for everyone to discuss ethics with each other.”
“Aidan is a great discussion leader and is friendly, understandable, and approachable.”
“I found this class to be very different from any other course I had taken before, and as a Tepper [School of Business] student, I felt this course is the definition of a quality breadth course, as many of the topics discussed gave me a different view of a familiar issue in society. I also felt that the course was taught in a structure such that It was easy to understand the overall goals and objectives of the course while also being able to compare and contrast theories in the end.”
Social Structure, Public Policy, and Ethics
“It was a pleasure having this course taught by Aidan this semester, I learned a lot about social ethics. I’m personally someone with a math and science background, and the fact that she made it so easy to understand a topic that I am unfamiliar with was amazing. Not only is she well informed in the topic, but also she is a pro at fielding questions without sounding superior. A+ for Aidan!”
“I really appreciate [Aidan] and I enjoy being in her class and learning from her. She respects everyone’s opinions and invites debate and treats our own minds and opinions very well. I feel comfortable voicing myself in such a setting, which is commendable that she achieved it on her part, given the political setting. I am glad to be her student.”
“I took this as a Gen Ed but it ended up being my favorite class this semester. It had a near perfect balance of structure and free-flowing discussion. I learned a lot of really useful and important information and I never felt stressed about this one class at any point. Aidan is so nice, helpful and clear in her instructions. Despite never having taken a philosophy course before I felt comfortable writing for this class and contributing to discussions.”
Ethical Judgments in Professional Life
“I was very satisfied with the quality of this course. Aidan was kind and personable and I appreciated her teaching style. Instead of trying to pack a lot of material lectures and assignments, she gave less content but really drove home a few key concepts. Quality over quantity as the saying goes. I would be enthusiastic to take another course with Aidan in the future.”
Ethics and Global Economics
“This course was one that was taught in a manner that focused on student learning above else. It was very collaborative and discussion based, and aimed at a deeper understanding of the material as opposed to copious amounts of work. The work was well structured and really helped encourage open and thorough discussion.”
“[Aidan] is always clear with the students and establishes a respectful relationship with her students, which sets the tone for the discourse of the class. Her expectations are reasonable and she always strives to be accessible and understanding, which is refreshing when things start to get crazy in the semester.”