Thinking Outside the [Classroom] Box

Posted: October 24, 2016

Dr. Roberto Sirvent, HIU Associate Professor of Political and Social Ethics, is known to implement creative experiential learning into his classes, to the delight and benefit of his students. His most recent experiment prompted Assemblywoman Young Kim to come and guest lecture after receiving social media messages from his students during a class “assignment.”

Sirvent recalls how this special visit came about, “Our [Congress: The Legislative Process] class discussion centered on the role of the media in Congress. As an exercise, I asked all my students to take out their phones and try to contact their local representatives via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or e-mail. We were trying to see how long it would take for our government officials to respond to their constituents. Assemblywoman Kim's office responded to three students during our class session. The students then sent a follow-up message asking if the Assemblywoman would consider coming to the campus and making an appearance in the class.”

As a result, Assemblywomen Kim recently spoke in Professor Sirvent’s class, which led to a great discussion about why government representatives are so eager to respond to their constituents.

“The students were able to apply some of their required reading to this real-life dynamic, specifically how that constituent communication and services matter a great deal to elected officials, especially when it’s less than a month from their re-election bids,” Sirvent says.

The support of Professor Sirvent’s supervisors, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Steve Edgington and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Alexander, are a testament to the innovative teaching environment that HIU thrives on.

Professor Sirvent states, “I'm really fortunate to have students who are open to surprise, experimentation, and innovation in the classroom. I'm a fan of the unexpected and unanticipated, especially when it comes to the classroom experience. And my students really enjoy it too.”