Dr. Kevin Buterbaugh
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Political Science
You see the best in students and invest in them accordingly. You constantly introduce students to scholarships, internships, and extracurricular opportunities that you think they should strive for. Even when a student feels they are not equipped for it, you encourage (and convince!) students to try anyway. You address your advisees as your equals; never once have I seen you talk down to a student or make them feel as if their questions or concerns are not worth your time.
Tea Carter, ’20 🦉
About Dr. Buterbaugh
Favorite Teaching Moments:
I have many favorite teaching memories. I have two in regards to Tea Carter who nominated me.
Tea in my Contemporary World Politics class asked me a question on civil war resolution. I gave a rather cursory answer to Tea. Once class was over I realized that my answer was insufficient. I went home and reviewed the material we read for class and reviewed material I had collected on civil wars and their resolution. I began my next class by answering properly Tea’s question. Why is this a favorite memory? This is why I teach – to be challenged by students – and to interact. I learn as students learn. And, it is often through the most challenging questions that I learn the most. Or even learn that I do not have an answer.
Two weeks ago I read the first draft of Tea’s thesis proposal. I was amazed by its quality and the growth that it showed. Tea came in as a very strong student, but her thesis proposal shows she has reached a new level. Watching her grow through 3 years at Southern has been a wonderful experience. I am proud of the small part I may have played in her growth. And, I feel honored to be her thesis advisor.
My primary philosophy is that students write to learn – and learn to write.
Thus, my classes have many small writing assignments connected to course readings. These assignments help students to engage with the course material. In engaging, they learn to write. Through their writing, they learn the course material – but more importantly – how to interpret, critique, and discuss course material. The assignments are low pressure – none will be decisive in the grade – this allows students to work without fearing failure. The assignments are significant in total but each on its own is not.
I also work to encourage students – especially – through advisement. I often send students emails encouraging them to participate in an activity, to compete in a contest or to apply for an internship. I hope by encouraging students that they will expand their world and become more active in their educations. Students often do not know how good they can be. Part of my role is to prod them into activities where I believe they can thrive, even when they may not believe it themselves.
Favorite Course to Teach:
This is a difficult one. I guess “PSC 230: War” is my favorite course. It is a Tier 2 LEP course that is not tied at all to the major. So, I get a wide variety of students that take it.
The course covers a broad range of content – theories of war, ethics in war, and the experience of war (soldiers and civilians). The diversity of the classroom leads to some very interesting discussions. This is especially the case when we get to the experience of war, as students engage with first-person narratives.
I created this course in 2012 when the new LEP came online. I teach it every semester. I have tweaked the course occasionally – but in general – the course has been so rewarding that I have kept the general framework of the course the same. This is rare for me. Most of my courses change fundamentally every 3 or 4 years.
Recent Courses Taught:
- PSC 230: War
- PSC 398: Terrorism – Extreme Politics