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.

Asset 81kpx

“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)

“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)

“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)

“Overall I love Dr. Bergren and I’m so glad she is the resident ENV studies professor! She’s great at what she does and she is so passionate, so professional, and so knowledgeable within her field and basically every single area of environmental studies. She is really a gift to have as a professor at this… Continue reading Fall 2018 (ENV 315)

Fall 2018 (ENV 315)

I’m going to miss this class! I’m also going to keep the textbook because I’ve actually used the readings in this class as sources for other papers I’m writing. Professor Bergren is amazing and I look forward to taking more of her classes in the future even though it might not pertain to my major.

Fall 2017 (ENV 120)

Dr. Bergren is the most genuinely passionate and engaging professor that I’ve had, so even if I didn’t think I was particularly interested in what we were talking about, she made it interesting to learn, and really made me think. She emphasized why things are important, too, so it didn’t feel like anything we were… Continue reading Fall 2017 (ENV 120)

Fall 2017 (ENV 120)

View all testimonials