Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher, my purpose is to lead my students to mastery of course concepts rather than the simple absorption of information.  To do so, I build my students’ skills from retrieval of information, to synthesis of information, and finally critical analysis. True mastery of a concept means it can be used as a tool beyond initial in-class applications. In mathematics, this process involves student-led derivation of key formulas upon which the structure of logical theory is built. While the social sciences may not have equivalent fundamental principles, all students of social science can learn to understand and exploit the underlying models of social and political thought in a similar way. To lead students to this meta-analysis of social patterns, I help them to examine their own preconceptions, asking them not only what they think about an issue or concept, but why they think it.

Interdisciplinary approaches can be discomfiting, even threatening, when they challenge our notions of “right” and “wrong” ways of thinking – fundamental ways that people make sense of the world. I believe that students need to be supported as they gain greater comfort with ambiguity. I aim to help students become more intellectually flexible, more confident in their own analytical powers, and more capable of intellectual adventure.

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“Dr. Bergren is extremely engaging and she is very passionate about what she teaches. Her passion for the environment and the excitement she has about teaching really impacts every student. She assigns meaningful projects that help to enhance learning and prepare students for the final exam.”

Fall 2018 (ENV 120)

“One valuable learning experience I had in this class was honestly the class in itself, I have learned more in this class than I have the past two years in college.”

Fall 2018 (ENV 120)

This is my favorite class and Dr. Bergren is amazing! 🙂

Fall 2017 (ENV 120)

“Dr. Bergren is an incredible professor! She used really effective teaching techniques. Her final review sessions were literally the most helpful I’ve ever experienced. I think all professors should take notes from her teaching style!”

Fall 2018 (ENV 120)

“First GSI I’ve had in my 4 years at Cal that was like a friend – there was no hierarchy, and for that I am so grateful. It changed the way we interacted with the material. It was a privilege to be her student.”

Spring 2015 (Environmental Health)

She is phenomenal.

Fall 2017 (ENV 120)

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