I recently accepted a tenure-track position at a university and will be on a 1-1 load my first year. My first course I will teach, I will get to modify and alter based on my expertise.
In my second semester, I am taking over a graduate course that was taught by a previous faculty member. This course is over a concept that I am extremely skeptical about. The prior professor, who taught the course, is a prominent supporter of the theory and has written articles and books on the subject.
So my concern is that my own biases could bleed out into the class.
My current plan is the following:
- First half of the semester: teach the course close the the prior syllabus with some differences.
- Midterm: present the evidence as to why I am a skeptic.
- Second half of the semester: students either provide evidence in the form of a literature review supporting or objecting to my skepticism.
A little background, I was brought into the department for my computational strength, productive research stream, and subject expertise. The thing is, the subject expertise has nothing to do with this course where I am a skeptic. So I feel a little bit like I would be being unnecessarily disruptive to an already established department curriculum. That said, the faculty member who pushed this subject recently left and I do not know if anyone else in the department is as passionate about it as they were.
I hesitate to outright say the topic due to not wanting to be unmasked. But it can be thought of like this: The idea has a solid foundation built on strong empirical evidence and results. This foundation is largely agreed upon by the field. Where this foundation is not nearly agreed upon is a certain abstraction/extension of this foundation. I believe that this abstraction/extension is trivial and also ill-defined. Others in the field believe that this extension is an important area of study.