The Gustavian Weekly

Gustie of the Week: Chris Gilbert | The Gustavian Weekly

By Monali Bhakta - Staff Writer | November 15, 2019 | Gustie of the Week, Variety

Professor of Political Science Chris Gilbert comes from a liberal arts education background as he attended Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania during his undergraduate years.

One of the reasons why he chose to teach at Gustavus was that he valued the small, close-knit community of compassionate and caring people he encountered everywhere he went.

When he finished graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, he found a job opportunity that best fit him at Gustavus.

Since being here, he has appreciated forming meaningful relationships with students.

“Anybody who takes a course in our political science department is going to have an excellent professor, and will learn something about the current world and how it came to be. They will be encouraged—but not pushed—to think about any particular political direction considering their own orientation toward what kind of active and engaged citizens they want to be,” Gilbert said.

He also admires how our school takes religion’s role in the world seriously since religion and politics is his area of expertise. Therefore, he has met many colleagues who were interested and supportive of the work he did which focused on this topic.

His interest in religion and politics began at Moravian, where the curriculum had a two-course religion requirement; He took a course focused on history that was interwoven with politics. After taking these course, he immediately realized this was his passion.

“I like the way he teaches, he is really passionate about what he teaches and that makes it easier to understand which encourages students to learn about the subject matter more in-depth,” Junior Ingrid Kubisa said.

In terms of engagement, he praises how Gustavus students are very politically aware and interested in learning about the political system.

Many prominent issues have persisted in American society for countless generations, and will possibly continue long into our lifetimes, such as climate change.

He believes that young people have the power to organize and push our country out of a toxic, corrupt political system.

“It seems to be that the set of students who are just learning about it are the ones pushing back against the idea that ‘this is the way it has to be, I can’t do anything.’ Younger generations are in a better position to understand that social change needs to happen,” Gilbert said.

This compels him to advocate for students’ wellbeing so they can be successful, well-rounded leaders after college.

Since his father was a professor, he heard the stories of hardships and struggles they faced due to external factors.

This developed Gilbert’s educational philosophy that student performance in the classroom depends on what they are personally dealing with, and they should not be penalized if they experience hardships in their lives they cannot control.

“[Gilbert] works really hard to be conscience about making classes accessible and accommodating for all students. He’s just a really funny guy. In certain topics that might not be interesting, he finds a way to teach it in a way that is easier to comprehend,” Junior Chelsea Boyden said.

Because his father always approached each student with compassion and empathy, he decided to adopt this teaching style as well.

Treating every student fairly does not mean holding them to an arbitrary standard, but being open and willing to work with them. He knows that there are sometimes competing interests we cannot control.

“I had been a student athlete in college, and I’m impressed with how Gustavus has helped student athletes manage those competing demands. Students should also know there are a lot of us willing to be available or direct them to the resources they should seek,” Gilbert said.

He finds it enjoyable to balance work life with being the parent of young boys and broadening his mind about the kinds of struggles young people face.

“Although you are bombarded in the first year with information about the many ways Gustavus can assist you—and while you shouldn’t expect to remember all of it—remember that somebody always has the answer, and one of those ways is to point you in the direction that is best for you,” Gilbert said.

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