Peace Studies professor adopts interactive, communal approach

Rachel Brustein
Co-Features Editor

Ailish Hopper, or simply, Ailish, is an Assistant Professor and the Chair of the Peace Studies department, who is in her thirteenth

Professor Alish Hopper in a Van Meter classroom between classes. (Photo: Rachel Brustein)

Professor Alish Hopper in a Van Meter classroom between classes. (Photo: Rachel Brustein)

year of teaching at Goucher. She has published several poems and essays, and two books over the past decade. In addition to being known for going by her first name, she is also known for her no hand-raising policy in class and for making students think about and question everyday life

Ailish says she likes working at Goucher because she enjoys learning and teaching a variety of topics. “[My] classes have a common thread … they’re all about creative praxis,” Ailish said.
“[I like] partnering with students to find that place of real discovery, especially to witness a student discovering something that only he or she could bring,” which is what makes her classes so unique.
After spending many years in the Peace Studies department, Ailish wants to continue collaborating with faculty, students, and alums to improve the department.
“[As chair] I get to go to more meetings, sign off on things. But the program works kind of like the Canada Geese that are flying overhead all the time right now; we take turns flying lead; we take turns following. We are in this together. I feel lucky.”
Ailish is always very open to feedback from her students. She asks her students to fill out mid-semester course evaluations so that she can improve both on her teaching and the content in her class. In her nonviolence class, she even asks her students to design their own final exam. Ailish also aims for students to connect with one another, and strives to apply the course topic to the students’ lives and to the Goucher community.
Camille Muson ’16, a Peace Studies major who is currently in Ailish’s Peace Practice class, “appreciates the space where self-discovery is happening,” and finds it to be very motivating.
Another Peace studies major currently in the class, Michelle Tirto ’15, says it has “ruined my life in the best way [and] made me think about things I don’t usually think about … like what I take for granted.” Tirto describes Ailish as a “conduit… connecting all of the cables (students) to sockets (each other) and electricity (ideas) turns on.”
Peace Studies is a discipline that relates to many other disciplines, especially classes at Goucher. Even a non-major can find something relevant in a class, especially when Ailish is teaching it.

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