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Home Videos on Teaching DePaul Faculty Oral HistoriesEuan Hague
DePaul Faculty Oral Histories: Euan Hague

Browse the videos below to hear Euan Hague, Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Geography, outline his biggest teaching influences, discuss teaching in historic times, and reflect on what connects him to DePaul.


My Biggest Teaching Influence: Watching Yourself Teach

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

When I first started teaching in grad school, I was in a program in Syracuse University that would video us teaching a class.

You didn't have to teach a whole class, you just taught five minutes, but I remember watching the video of myself teaching and noticing that how I wrote on the board, how I communicated with students, even just how I looked in the classroom . . . I noticed that I was tall, [and] that might sound silly, but I'm about six feet all and I noticed that on the video, if I sort of walked up to a student who was sitting down, I'd be much taller than them, so one of the things that I've done as a result was I was very conscious of that, and now when I'm talking to students, sometimes I stand up, obviously, but I try to maybe sit down, pull up a chair, sit down and talk to them or kneel on the floor, so I'm at their level. And I think it's only a minor thing, but I think that makes for a much better engagement and a much better interaction with the students rather than sort of standing and sort of overlooking them, and I think that's been one thing that I really benefited from when I was trained as a teacher; just watching yourself teach for five minutes, it was a very surreal and very informative experience.




My Biggest Teaching Influence: Interactive Teaching

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

I also went to school with an undergraduate back in the early 1990s where professors had whole lectures written in faint felt-tip pen on overhead projectors, and they wound a scroll slowly and repeated every word, which was not good.

So I think as a result I determined to be much more interactive in my classes, to try and have student conversations, and I think also that's one difference between being a student in the United Kingdom and being a professor in the United States. In the UK it's very traditional; the professor would stand at the front and talk, and we would listen and take notes in this tiered classroom. Here in the United States, you're encouraged and taught (as a graduate student, anyway) to be much more interactive, much more engaged with the students, and it's certainly a model of teaching that I have come very much to enjoy.




My Biggest Teaching Influence: Culture of Collaboration

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

One of the things that we do is once a year is every faculty member goes and watches another faculty member teach (and that gives you all kinds of ideas) and then has a conversation obviously about it afterwards.

That gives us all kinds of ideas about the kind of materials to use in the classroom, the techniques to use in the classroom, just the different methods of giving students information. So certainly within our department we have a very good culture of sharing ideas, sharing knowledge on teaching. I must say as well, the support from the Steans Center . . . I've talked with Howard Rosing there a number of times about what kinds of things we can do in the classroom and how would it best benefit a community organization. One of the things I really wanted to make work with the Steans Center and with the community organizations that we've worked with is that we provide more than just labor; we actually provide them something they could not do themselves in sort of conducting research and analysis of issues that are very important to them, and that's something that we as a department in Geography have really prided ourselves on in the last five or ten years.




Teaching in Historic Times: 9/11

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

I was teaching at Syracuse University on the afternoon of 9/11.

I remember walking to work that day, and actually before that I remember watching the second plane hit the building. I don't know why I turned on the TV because I normally don't watch TV in the mornings, but I remember watching the second plane hit the World Trade Center and walking to school and actually some guy in a pick-up truck drove past me yelling obscenities about “nuking them,” and I got to Syracuse and I remember standing in a room with 100 other people watching the towers fall. And then I was due in the classroom in an hour's time, and Syracuse didn't cancel classes, even though a lot of the students we had there were from . . . [their] parents worked in New York, I mean many of them probably worked near where the World Trade . . . if not in the World Trade Center. But we were told to continue teaching classes and use it as a teaching moment. But one of the things that I did was I had my class that afternoon and I said to the students, you know, this was actually a smaller class, it was a majors only class, so it was maybe only 25 or 30 students in the class at that stage, and I said, “Do you . . . what do you want to do? Do you want to cancel class? Do you want to talk about 9/11? Or do you want to proceed with the program that we have scheduled? Do you want to talk about the materials that we were going to look at today?” I mean obviously people were still taking in the information, a lot of information still wasn't known, I mean this was the day of the event, it was maybe two hours after the towers fell. And I actually found out the weaker students were the ones who wanted to cancel class and really wanted to talk about it, maybe because they hadn't prepared, whereas the students that had prepared wanted to stick with the regular program, and so I think we talked about 9/11 for a few minutes, maybe 10 or 15 minutes at the start of class. Because it wasn't known as 9/11 then, was it, it was, you know, to talk about that morning's events. And then we went on with our regular teaching, and I actually remember what I did the week after was I remember videoing on VHS (in the olden days), videoing on VHS George Bush's press conferences, one from Fox News and then the same press conference was actually shown on BBC America, and I videoed that as well. And we were talking actually the week after 9/11, we were talking about political identity, national identity, these types of topics, and so we played this video of George Bush doing the same speech, exactly the same segment of news from the press conference. And on Fox, the . . . (I don't know what they'd done with the camera, you guys would probably know that, but) the red white and blue of the flag was like double bright compared to the BBC America, where the colors were much more muted; they'd obviously done something with their cameras to make the flag stand out and the bright colors on Fox in a way that hadn't been done on the European station that was available on cable. So we actually turned that conversation from being about the events to being about how the events would subsequently be used. I mean, little did we know how it would turn out, you know, over the next ten years, but it made for some very interesting questions in the classroom about “what does it mean to be part of a nation? what does patriotism mean? how do we claim national territory and national identity?&rdquo?" and so I think, although we didn't cancel classes, it led to a very interesting set of conversations at that time.




What Connects Me to DePaul: Diversity of Experiences & Ideas

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

I taught at a place called Staffordshire University in England, where to get into that university it's based on your grades; so, it's not a private institution. Almost all the universities in the UK are public institutions, and so as a result, your classroom is based on student high school grades and, as a result, the standards in the classroom are pretty similar. Here at DePaul, obviously with a mix of fellowship students and scholarship students and people paying the private tuition, you have a bigger range of student abilities in the classroom, and yet I think you get diverse opinions.

You have people obviously who English is not their first language, people who have grown up in different parts of the city. I teach Urban Geography, and one of the most remarkable things is the different views of the city of Chicago from somebody who lives in Wilmette or Kenilworth versus someone who lives in Pilsen or Little Village; or somebody who lives on the far south side, or someone who lives in a condo in the South Loop. We have all those students in the classroom, and then when we talk about perceptions of the city of crime, safety, of urban development, you get a range of opinions, and as a result, it becomes quite a dynamic conversation which sometimes needs moderating, I think as a way to say it by the faculty member. So, I think the difference experiences just from different upbringings in and around the city, but also difference of levels of experience of academia, makes for some really interesting conversations in the classroom about identity, culture, and the city.




What Connects Me to DePaul: Creating Classroom Camaraderie

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

Because I teach to a range of students at DePaul, it's always important to get them talking to each other.

I think one of the best ways to break down presumptions or prejudices is literally to put them into groups and have them talk to each other, so quite often I actually allocate . . . I'll say, we've got 40 students, let's make ten groups of four, and I will actually say “OK, you four are group one, you four are group two,” and actually mix it up every class. As a result, they end up talking to three or four people every class, and hopefully that builds classroom camaraderie and also puts them into contact with people who they wouldn't necessarily normally talk to. And, you know, it's a relatively simple thing to do but it's actually very effective in building both class camaraderie, but also making new friendships, I hope. I mean, I always say you know, “smile and introduce yourselves” because you're going to be sitting in a classroom with these people for the next ten weeks, so why not make friends. And you still get some people who clique together, but I try and break up those cliques. I often randomly assign people by, you know, I just go down my class list and pick ten people for group one and five people for group two or whatever and just tell them go find the other members of your group, so even that sort of initial setting up of the groups where you have to stand up and walk around and say, “Are you in group one or group two?” enables people to talk to people and to others who they wouldn't necessarily talk to. And then in those conversations I often hear back from students about surprising conversations that they've had that have confirmed or overthrown prejudices that they've held, and so as a result, I think quite a lot of that, breaking down the barriers and sort of working on the heterogeneity of the student body is actually sort of student driven. You know, you've got to push the students to interact with each other rather than sort of stay in their comfort zone, just come into class, sitting down and listening to me talk for an hour and a half or whatever the class is that day.




What Connects Me to DePaul: Working with Students

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

The other thing about personalism that I find to be very interesting is this commitment to having one-on-one meetings between faculty and students.

At many other institutions, there's at least a couple of tiers blocking that, be it a teaching assistant, or a grad student or something like that, but to be able to just talk directly to your students in your office or in the classroom and really get to know them and get to know some of their personal stories and their histories, helps you put their studies in context. And I think that's been a very rewarding aspect of the mission here at DePaul.




What Connects Me to DePaul: Working with the Steans Center

Featured Faculty Member: Euan Hague of the Department of Geography.
Music: “July” by Marcel Pequel, courtesy of Free Music Archive. Creative Commons Licensed.
Videographer/Editor: Heather Banas
Interviewer: Zac Brenner

From the Transcript

Organizations like the Steans Center on campus and the encouragement for community-based service learning through something like the junior year experiential learning credit are fantastic.

In Geography, we have a long tradition of going out into the field and doing primary research. I mean, that's a big part of our discipline, and yet I hear horror stories from other universities from people I was in graduate school with or other faculty about how little their institutions allow them to do this or support this type of work. I mean, here at DePaul we actually have a committed set of resources and support system and a whole center designed to go out and get community support and go and help our students work in the community. As a result, one of the projects we put together has been mapping a housing development in the neighborhood of Pilsen through work with the Pilsen Alliance, and that has been wonderful, both for our students, to really get a grip on how urban development works, but also the community organization has then been able to use the information we've generated from that class in their teachings, in their local workshops, and in their education programs down there in Pilsen on the lower west side. And that whole relationship began by me going to Staens Center and saying, “I have an Urban Geography class, how can we make it relevant to people in the city?” And around the same time, the Pilsen Alliance members who we work with went to the Steans Center and said, (actually they were alums of DePaul), and said, “We know what you do, is there anyone you can put us in touch with?”