Professor Segun Soetan wins the first African Studies Program Undergraduate Teaching Award

Professor Segun Soetan wins the first African Studies Program Undergraduate Teaching Award

I am a scholar of African cinema, with a focus on the Nigerian film industry popularly known as Nollywood. I hold a PhD in African languages and literature from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and I am an Assistant Teaching Professor of African Studies at the Pennsylvania State University where I teach and research on African cinema, gender studies, African popular culture, and African literature. My works draw on critical theories of gender, class, sexuality, identity, and representation. I have published essays in peer-reviewed journals and contributed book chapters to edited volumes. As a teacher, my teaching approach is shaped by my personal experiences and research, and it rests on the idea that recognizing students’ diverse academic orientations and cultural practices is the best foundation that can sustain a robust and meaningful learning process. As a minority scholar working in a predominantly white academic environment, I have learned to recognize students’ presences, orientations, and cultural perspectives in my classrooms. This experience has not only changed my understanding of culture and people; it has significantly influenced my pedagogical approach. Often, I describe my teaching method as inclusive and collaborative, that is, a multisided pedagogy, and I encourage my students to engage academic discourses with open minds. I have learned to approach teaching and its practices from the humanistic perspective, where individual students are treated with respect and allowed to express their thoughts on issues and topics without fear or intimidation. I explore different teaching methodologies that can promote intercultural education. To expand students’ knowledge, I always encourage them to bracket their subjective feelings towards people, places, and cultures. As students develop their ideas and formulate assumptions about topics related to Africa and the global world, they are encouraged to think about their experiences and material conditions. So that in the end, they not only alter how gender studies scholars and film critics analyze and theorize contemporary African lives, but opening up new modes of thinking about Africa and its literature, people, and practices.