My teaching and pedagogy are based on broad experience as an educator in both formal and informal settings as well as focused University pedagogy training. I hold a Certificate in College Teaching from the University of Colorado Boulder for which I completed over 50 hours of training. I also hold a certificate as a Leader in Classroom Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Arizona and recently completed an intensive six-week training on facilitating “virtual exchanges” in the classroom using Zoom (pre-pandemic). My commitment to teaching excellence and student learning has consistently been recognized with departmental (2017), college-level (2020), university-wide (2014), and national awards (2021).

“I have so throughly enjoyed this course, and have spoken highly of it to many other students. The engaging topics, class discussions, and encouragement for critical thinking have made this one of the best classes I have ever taken, and has made me a much more knowledgable citizen of the world. The inclusion of indigenous perspectives, wide variety of sources, and guest speakers in the class deepened my knowledge, and were much better than using a single reading for the class, as other courses do. “Drug Wars and Oil Capitalism” has confirmed that my Latin American Studies minor was the right choice, and has reaffirmed my passion to one day work in the region. Muchas gracias, Joel, por una class muy interesante y relevente.”

–Drug Wars & Oil Fortunes in Latin America Student
Spring 2019

My pedagogy is dedicated to teaching students the critical skills, debates, and practical tools that will shape their futures as engaged citizens who seek justice and peace. Thus I draw inspiration from bell hooks’ notion that the teaching should be focused on transgressing injustices in all their forms and Paulo Freire’s notion of praxis and co-learning. Fundamentally, I see the classroom as a site for radical possibility where students can not only learn key debates and issues, but challenge established concepts and explore possible solutions to pressing problems facing society.


“Joel is an amazing professor. His pedagogical skills and his passion for the topics he teaches about is very motivating. I feel this has been the best class I’ve taking [sic]. Also the one I’ve had to work harder but very happy to do it as well. I can’t wait to take one more of his classes.”

–Indigenous Rights, Environmental Justice & Development in Abya Yala Student
Spring 2019

As an educator, I see my role as encouraging student interests while helping them learn to articulate compelling evidence-based arguments that will translate to engaged citizenship. Broad experience outside the classroom as a field-based educator and development practitioner also influences my teaching in important ways. I served as a volunteer with the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and American Red Cross, designed and implemented grassroots educational initiatives, and participated in numerous applied community-based research projects focused on sustainable development. Having done this work in Paraguay, Mexico, Kenya, and Southern Arizona, I have studied environmental injustice operating across a broad range of geographies and cultural settings while using research and activism to contribute to efforts the creation of more just futures.

“Joel’s enthusiasm for teaching and for learning positively impacted the course. He also deserves praise for his kindness and respect toward students. He creates a class dynamic in which all voices are valued, and students feel comfortable to share their thoughts. 

–Human Rights in Latin America Student
Fall 2018

To date, I have designed and instructed several classes that focus on questions of socio-environmental justice, human rights, development, and political ecology. My experience spans lecture courses like Drug Wars and Oil Fortunes in Latin America, advanced graduate seminars such as Infrastructure, environment, society: Critical geographies of social-environmental relations and Land Politics: Race, Rights, and Power.

What follows is a list of courses I have designed and instructed in university settings. Syllabi available here.

  1. Land politics: Race, rights, and power in América
    • A graduate seminar.
  2. Infrastructure, environment, and society: Geographies of social-environmental relations
    • A graduate seminar.
  3. Indigenous rights, environmental justice, and development in Latin America
    • A graduate seminar.
  4. Drug Wars and Oil Fortunes in Latin America
    • An undergraduate lecture course.
  5. Human Rights in Latin America 
    • A co-convened undergraduate-graduate seminar.
  6. Power, Politics, and Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
    • A co-convened seminar with both graduate and undergraduate students. Cross-listed with Geography and Latin American Studies.
  7. Introduction to Latin American Studies
    • A graduate seminar designed to orient incoming cohort of MA students to Latin American Studies.
  8. Environment and Development in South America
    • A senior-level undergraduate geography course.
  9. Geographies of International Development
    • An undergraduate geography course.