By: Kirk Besmer
One of the perks of teaching Core philosophy courses at Gonzaga is the occasional opportunity to teach at the Florence campus for a semester. Of course, there are personal rewards that attend teaching abroad, but there are also unanticipated benefits that emerge in the classroom. Much like the students, I am experiencing the dislocations that occur while living and working in a foreign country: struggling with the language, establishing new routines, and spending time exploring this beautiful city and wonderful country. These common experiences help erode barriers that typically separate students and teachers, which provides a fruitful environment for philosophic discussions.
For example, to capitalize on the travel experiences that studying abroad provide, a large section of my ethics class is dedicated to questions about the value and purpose of travel for a well-lived life. Rather than being merely an abstract theoretical exercise, this is a live, pressing issue for students, but it is also for me. Our shared situation gives urgency and vibrancy to our discussions. This unexpected aspect of teaching in Florence is both a professional and a personal reward.
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