Jessica Hanser

Assistant Professor of Humanities (History)

What do you think is special about teaching at Yale-NUS? What makes teaching here different from teaching elsewhere?

Hanser:  The diversity of the student body, in terms of socioeconomics and nationality. Also, really small class sizes make it possible to get to know students extremely well.

How would you describe your teaching style?

Hanser:  I’m informal and experimental. I create a very relaxed, comfortable classroom environment. I encourage a lot of fun in class.

Can you recall a moment when you knew the class is going well?

Hanser:  When the students don’t leave after the seminar ends. They continue discussing, and sometimes I have to kick them out of the classroom. Once, when the seminar ended, the entire class regrouped in the dining hall and sat together as a class and continued the discussion from class.

What have been some of your best moments teaching at Yale-NUS?

Hanser:  A student and I developed a course together. She and four other students met at my apartment around the dining room table once a week. We talked about economic history over pots of organic Taiwanese tea.

What is your biggest challenge in regards to teaching?

Hanser:  Making sure that all voices are heard in the room, that quiet, shy students get to share their thoughts.

What do you wish you knew about teaching when you started that you know now?

Hanser:  That a critical dimension of teaching is creating a community in the classroom. Because only then will all students feel confident and comfortable to take intellectual risks and try out new ideas.