Here at UNM West we strive to provide a quality educational experience for both instructors and students. Please describe your teaching experience at UNM West thus far.

I started teaching classes at the old UNM West campus as a graduate student around 2008. Since then, I have had the pleasure of teaching a number of topical courses in American Studies at the new campus. The staff, the students,and, of course, the facilities out here are wonderful.

In the past your classes have covered very interesting topics such as UFO’s in America and Urban Legends. What lead you to focus part of your research on this subject matter?

Before coming to New Mexico to pursue my doctorate, I studied anthropology at James Madison University in Virginia and East Carolina University in North Carolina. I became very fascinated by contemporary belief traditions, particularly the “ghost light” legends of various communities around North Carolina. After expanding my research into the rich and fascinating field of UFO belief, New Mexico seemed like a (super)natural fit for my research interests. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary approaches promoted by our American Studies department allowed me to explore belief traditions from a variety of academic perspectives. For instance, in my UFO’s in America class we draw from the fields of folklore, anthropology, history, cognitive psychology, religious studies, and popular culture. The study of belief is a common theme in all of my courses, and by incorporating perspectives from all of these fields we find that answering “Why we believe what we believe” is a much more complicated endeavor than we often think it is.

How long have you been teaching? Can you please speak a bit about your instructional style for students who may be interested in taking one of your classes in the future?

I’ve been teaching at the college level since 2005. As far as my instructional style is concerned, I belong to a growing number of academics who value critical discussion just as much as the traditional lecture format. Different students come to the classroom with different learning styles, so I think it’s important to present and discuss the subject matter in a variety of ways. For example, many of the classes I teach at UNM West will meet one day a weeks for five hours. Does anyone really want to listen to me lecture for five straight hours? As much as I enjoy hearing myself talk (a considerable amount, I assure you),I don’t think you can expect students to maintain attention and interest for that amount of time. So, although I do spend time lecturing in class, I think it’s also important to discuss these topics in a forum. The arguments and perspectives different students bring to each of these classes is invaluable, and the subsequent debate and discussion facilitates exciting new perspectives into these matters. In these classes, we get to talk (and often examine media content) about UFOs, popular culture, legends, rumors, and conspiracy theories. Regardless of each student’s background, everyone has potentially interesting insights into these topics!

Being that you are an instructor of American Studies , perhaps you could share your thoughts with us on some American pop culture. They say you can divide the world into two types of people. Beatles or Stones?

Rather than bloviate about the merits of each band (and I love them both), I’ll simply give you an insufferably hipster-ish answer and say Tommy James and the Shondells. Or The Troggs. Or if you’ve heard of both of them I’ll reference something else. As long as you haven’t heard of it.

The best thing about living in New Mexico is__________________________________.

Serious answer? It sounds cliché, but I love the diversity of culture here. From the music to the language to the lore and,
of course, the food, I think we have one of the most complex and underappreciated communities in the US. The landscape
is pretty easy on the eyes, too.

Anything else you would like to add?

*The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of UNM West.
They’re still pretty awesome opinions though.

Professor Dewan will be teaching the following upcoming courses:

  • American Studies 340.008 American Pop Culture  
  • American Studies 340- Conspiracy Theories