Chris Bell

Historic Preservation: | 541-346-2982

Courses: Sense of Place: Oregon; Transportation & Preservation

In my classes you will:

  • Make connections to lived experiences and real life challenges. 
  • Practice foundational, transferrable skills. 
  • Learn with and from peers.
  • Interact during exciting, participatory class meetings.
  • Develop a significant project that will challenge you and make you proud.
  • Understand what it means to be at a research university with the chance to gain new knowledge.
  • Explore new perspectives.
  • Have fun!

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am a Williams Fellow.
  • I was a member of the Working Group on Active Teaching and Learning.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

My courses are incredibly student-led -- and while that does not immediately scream "inclusive" -- I give every student a voice in the classroom, and that voice is not always at the front of the room talking about a reading. In this way, I try to accommodate their learning style, and bring that out in the class in whatever form that takes. In the end, I hope to have everyone connect with the material, and become themselves, engaged in a way that leaves a lasting mark on their educational experience.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

In order to stay current and relevant as an instructor, I continue to sharpen my tools of teaching with TEP workshops, conversations and sessions with colleagues on campus and frankly across the nation by virtue of conferences and professional forums, and find places and people on campus that can help enrich our classroom (the JSMA is among my favorite right now). Oregon has great resources on campus, and continues to expand the places and ways we can learn about best practices in teaching, and make our courses increasingly rich and effective.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

By nature of the study subject, I expect students to spend a lot of time focused on research to support their findings. It is articulated in the learning objectives, and central to nearly every assignment. We prepare for these efforts by walking and working through the process in class, and with each other in assignments. For me, the foundation of the course is experiential, and that experience is grounded in research and then putting that research into practice.

What made you want to be a teacher? Who is a role model for you?

These are two questions that are related for me -- and reflect my passion for this program (TEP). Since high school, I have had the pleasure of a handful of simply exceptional teachers. All in varying subjects, but in every case, they cared so deeply about the subject, and spent the time it took to invite us into that passion, and learn about it in fun and interesting ways, and make it our own. When I was first given a chance to teach, soon after graduate school, I didn't really think I had much to offer as a fresh graduate. But in a few years, what I realized is it was not so much the experience initially, but the way of exploring a topic collectively. Where I learned, they learned, and in the end, some of the project outcomes for both the students and me were really mind-blowing. My inexperience frankly forced me to put the students at the head of the classroom, which made some of them uncomfortable initially -- but by the grace of class after class of talented and engaged students, even those students found a voice they didn't think they had. In this way, I have looked back at those role models, unbeknownst to them or me at the time, but who taught in ways that I found compelling, and brought life to the classroom, be it inside, outside, or at home -- the assignments, the readings -- it honestly made you look forward to whatever the next thing was. That is a goal of mine, in every class, to make it worthwhile for the students (even if they don't love it initially) -- and in a way, I have never stopped learning and have convinced my work colleagues where I work everyday outside of the UO, that this is perhaps the finest form of training I could ask for, and thus they have fully supported my teaching. It has been a great marriage of work and teaching -- both better for the other. In sum, I find that one never is done learning about teaching, and thankful we have a place that lets us keep doing that!