Teaching Philosophy

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Call me Dr. Chris
Call me Dr. Chris
What I do:
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My Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy on research and teaching is that I seek to address systemic problems by being innovative in my approach. This has led me to focus on publishing in areas that are often under-published, including areas that focus on marginalized communities. In regards to teaching and the promotion of a productive learning environment, I believe that each student has a unique purpose, a unique background, and that a teacher can be an effective guide by understanding the student’s short-term and long-term goals. In order to help students broaden their horizons and apply what they learn in textbooks, I provide a substantial amount of supplemental learning materials for students that come from peer-reviewed journal articles, case studies, videos that discuss a specific topic such as public leadership, congressional hearings on a policy matter, and other methods including online learning and hybrid structures. A few examples of what this could entail include the following:

  1. For my Comprehensive Examination in my Ph.D. Program, the assignment was focused on our collective Public Administration coursework with the application to a public crisis. My cohort had to address our prior coursework by applying it to the Flint Water Crisis. This ultimately led to my research interests in environmental justice, environmental racism, racial equity, New Public Management, emergency management, and other areas. I use this foundation that I developed in my own education to provide students with similar learning experiences.
  2. I enjoy attending public meetings and examining meeting minutes as a supplemental activity for coursework. This provides practical experiences and an understanding of public policy issues in a real-time application. Supplemental activities are essential for students to enhance their knowledge and it provides for practicality for the long-term as supplemental projects provide a relatable experience that students will remember in their careers.
  3. I enjoy team projects, such as the Marketing Plan that my MBA Marketing Management class developed by collaborating with the leadership of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. I feel like helping a nonprofit develop an operationalized plan provides valuable and practical experiences for students. I would use my experience in this area to help students gain valuable experiences and professional development within the various types of public-serving organizations.
  4. I particularly enjoy activities that enrich students’ exposure to various cultures to enhance inclusivity in academic settings. I have worked with students from dozens of countries in my academic programs of study. I bring an expertise in LGBTQ+ issues, racial equity, and disabilities. This allows me to understand and educate students from all walks of life.

My first publication was my MPA Capstone, entitled “Equity Issues in LGBT Funding: Inequality Remains Despite National Progress.” My capstone was the beginning of everything that was to come, including five total publications and 12 academic conference presentations. My second publication was Chapter 26 of The Routledge Handbook of LGBTQIA Administration and Policy by Dr. Wallace Swan. My chapter focused on the policy challenges and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community at the state and local levels in the Trump Era. My third publication is a book chapter on the Flint Water Crisis in Dr. Celeste Murphy Greene’s book, Environmental Justice and Resiliency in an Age of Uncertainty. This book will be released in 2022. My fourth publication is my doctoral dissertation, Michigan Municipal Manager Perceptions on LGBTQ+ Inclusion: A Narrative Policy Framework Case Study. My dissertation was a phenomenological case study of public managers in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Kalamazoo on their knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions (KAP) of the LGBTQ+ community in public policy. This was an application of the Narrative Policy Framework, along with standard qualitative research methodology from the Creswell and Poth (2018) book. My fifth publication is pending but received positive prospectus feedback from the publishers, according to Dr. Wallace Swan. My fifth publication is a book chapter entitled “Reclaiming Our Time: From Discrimination to Dignity” in Dr. Wallace Swan’s next book, which serves as a follow-up to The Routledge Handbook of LGBTQIA Administration and Policy.

I am particularly interested in social equity, which is the fourth pillar of Public Administration. I have professionally networked with practitioners and academicians in the social equity area at conferences around the country. I communicate with these colleagues regularly, and there will be future publications in the area of social equity that I will be working on soon. Another area that I have devoted considerable effort is on environmental issues pertaining to racial equity and poverty. Finally, I have studied nonprofit organizations and foundations.

© 2023 Chris R. Surfus, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.