Bill Yousman, Ph.D. is the Director of the Media Literacy and Digital Culture graduate program at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. He earned his doctorate in Communication from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Yousman is the author of Prime Time Prisons: Representation of Incarceration on U.S. TV (2009) and The Spike Lee Enigma: Challenge and Incorporation in Media Culture (2014). He is the former Managing Director of the Media Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in Northampton. Bill’s research focuses on media literacy education and the construction of racial ideologies in media images and narratives. In addition to his two books, he has published numerous essays in peer-reviewed journals and anthologies.
B.A. Charter Oak State College (1995)
M.A. University of Hartford (1999)
Ph.D. University of Massachusetts Amherst (2004)
Curriculum Vitae (click here)
I believe in the premise proposed by Postman and Weingartner in their 1969 book: I believe in “Teaching as a Subversive Activity.” Teaching courses in media and technology studies I am always trying to subvert a culture that encourages “non-thinking,” a culture that keeps us too busy to reflect on the conditions of our lives, a culture that disables individuals from seeing the ways we are always embedded in communities and structures that are larger than ourselves.
In my classes I challenge students to consider alternative and diverse perspectives, I encourage critical thinking, and I stress the value of introspection based in gathered knowledge. I believe in Dorothy Wallace’s statement that, “The deepest form of learning happens when we challenge our entire manner of approaching a concept in order to form a new schema (2005, p. 125).” In all of my courses the emphasis is on global awareness, intercultural sensitivity, critical analysis, and intellectual curiosity. I believe that these are the central aspects of liberal arts education that cut across the particulars of individual courses.
In terms of teaching methods, I have encountered success by uniting lecture and discussion and hands-on project-based approaches. As with research, I believe that the question at hand should drive the methodology, rather than vice-versa. In other words, the method of teaching employed should be determined by what sorts of issues are being explored in the class, rather than by a predetermined strategy that the instructor utilizes regardless of the context. I believe that an eclectic approach allows instructors the opportunity to introduce new material to students and then give them space to wrestle with the application of these ideas.
While I believe very strongly in high expectations and rigorous standards in the classroom, I try to balance this with approachability, humor, and fairness. I see my teaching as always a work-in-progress. I update and revise my course content, assignments, and approach every semester. Because I want to encourage introspection in my classes, I also try to practice this myself and I spend considerable time reflecting on what worked and what didn’t work (and why) in previous classes. I read several books on college teaching every year and I try to adopt insights from successful professors into my own approach.
Postman, N. and Weingartner, C. (1969). Teaching as a subversive activity. New York: Dell.
Wallace, D. (2005). The hornet’s opinion. In The art of college teaching: 28 takes. M. Kallet and A. Morgan (Eds.), pp. 123-127. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.