Tabitha M. Benney portrait
  • Affiliated Faculty, University of Utah, Center for Global Change and Sustainability
  • Affiliated Faculty, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, University of Utah
  • Associate Professor, Political Science Department
  • Research Fellow, Earth System Governance (ESG) Network
  • Affiliated Researcher, The Griffith Criminology Institute and Global Risk Governance Program, University of Cape Town

Current Courses

Fall 2020

  • POLS 5322-001
    Enviro/Sustain Policy
    Location: CANVAS (CANVAS)
  • POLS 6322-001
    Enviro/Sustain Policy
    Location: CANVAS (CANVAS)
  • POLS 6850-001
    Field Sem Intntl Rel
    Location: GC 1560 (GC 1560)

Spring 2020

Professional Organizations

  • Earth System Governence (ESG) Network. 01/14/2016 - 12/31/2019. Position : Research Fellow.
  • Scholars Strategy Network (SSN). 06/01/2015 - 10/01/2018. Position : Co-Chair.
  • American Political Science Assocation. 07/01/2009 - 12/31/2019. Position : Member.
  • International Studies Association. 02/01/2008 - 12/31/2019. Position : Member.

Teaching Philosophy

After teaching at the university level for seven years, I have come to value intellectual exchange (in its many forms) as my toolbox for teaching and learning. To encourage interaction, I often experiment with a variety of learning approaches and materials and this helps me to relate to students in various ways. The ability to relate to students, even if on the most basic of levels, helps build an invaluable rapport in the classroom; cultivating personal chemistry facilitates better classroom discussions and improves performance. Perhaps most importantly, forming a positive working relationship with a class creates an environment in which students feel comfortable in taking risks, both in their writing and in their contributions to discussions. Today, I understand the teaching-learning paradigm as an exercise in teamwork. To help my students to succeed, they need clear goals, encouragement, and a trusted role model to guide them. To facilitate this process, my student learning goals include: critical thinking, relevant application, respect for other perspectives, and honest collaboration.

First, I expect my students to develop critical thinking skills. This is especially important when studying international affairs because the issues we address are often complex and difficult to resolve. If students master the art of critical thinking, they are better able to form their own views about the issues we explore. Second, it is important for students to have the ability to apply theoretical concepts to real-life events. To do so, I try to encourage my students to apply what they have learned to real-life cases so that they can come to appreciate how relevant their academic studies are to their own lives. Third, I encourage students to be open minded and foster respect for the views of others. In the classroom, students must always respect each other’s ideas. We are here to learn and to help each other understand how the world works. Finally, the ability to work collaboratively in an open and honest manner is an important goal in my classroom. To help each other succeed requires participation and open communication.

There are four primary ways in which I structure a class in order to foster my student learning goals. First, I typically have students write a comprehensive research paper that requires them to think through the concepts they have learned in class and to evaluate how and when certain tools or techniques should be applied to a given problem. Second, I use case studies in class when appropriate so that students can see how various actors have addressed specific types of problems and the trade-offs they faced in using that approach. Third, I encourage students to learn how to communicate effectively through writing, oral communication, and group activities. These are skills that all professionals need and students at the university level should have experience using a variety of communication styles. Finally, I also use my own research to inform my teaching. Over the course of my career, I have lived and worked on real policy issues in over 35 countries. This real-life experience is invaluable and enables me to bring experiences, research, and data from my work into the classroom. It also allows students to see how academic research can be brought into an applied setting and how it can inform the political and policy process.

As my confidence as a teacher has grown, I have tried to push myself so that I can also be a role model for learning. One important way that I try to encourage my own growth is by incorporating the latest information technologies into the classroom (e.g. clickers, hybrid/online courses, and various types of media). I also regularly update and advance my methods skills through courses and professional learning opportunities. Not only have these efforts played an important role in fostering a collaborative space, but it also has compelled me to continually introduce new resources into my courses. Learning how to express ideas I have taught before in a new format allows me to extend my teaching beyond the normal lecture scenario. Best of all, it helps me to engage and reengage my students and this helps to keep them motivated throughout the entire course. This in turn fosters greater interest, comprehension, and attendance from my students. In these various ways, teaching allows me to continue learning and growing, which allows me to lead by example.

Courses I Teach

  • POLS 2100 - Introduction to International Relations
    The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the field of international relations. This course is introductory and was designed for students with no previous background in the study of international relations. Topics include the determinants of state power and the conditions that foster conflict and cooperation in international politics. This course counts towards the certificate in International Relations.
  • POLS 5310 - The Politics of Sustainable Dev in Costa Rica
    This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of sustainable development and draws upon the most recent developments in economics, politics, and sociology. It describes the complex interactions between the world economy and the Earth's physical environment, and addresses issues of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development. As one of the most prominent examples of successful sustainable development, Costa Rica will be used as our case for this course. Students will gain a broad overview of the key challenges and potential solutions to achieve development in the 21st century.
  • POLS 5322 - Environmental and Sustainability Policy
    This course is organized into four parts. In Part I, students will be introduced to the history and political timeline of modern environmental politics. An overview of common problems associated with environmental politics will also be explored. In Part II, students will be introduced to the actors and issues that dominate the domestic environmental policy arena. Similarly, Part III explores key actors and issues faced in the international environmental policy arena. In the final section of the course, students will explore a variety of environmental regimes, including global warming, nuclear waste, deforestation, and chemical pollution. The goal here is to consider the opportunities and obstacles regimes face. Arguments focusing on population, economic development, income inequality, and consumption rates will be discussed and analyzed with respect to their role in environmental degradation.
  • POLS 5710 - International Political Economy
    The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the field of international political economy. This course is introductory and was designed for students with no previous background in the field. The focus of this course is on the politics of international economic relations, which has an International Relations designation. Alternative analytical and theoretical perspectives will be examined for their value in helping to understand and evaluate the historical development and current operation of the world economy.
  • POLS 5750 - The Rise of Global Capitalism
    The goal of this course is to understand the historical and political impacts of global capitalism. This course will assess the rise of capitalism and the global capitalist system over the last two hundred years through the interplay between events, economic theories and government policies. To fully understand this phenomenon, the course is divided into three sections. We begin by exploring the historical, political and social impacts of the Industrial Revolution. Next, the course investigates the rise of the modern capitalist system and the issues, actors and institutions that enable its global impact today. The final section of this course focuses on the field of Comparative Capitalism and the geopolitical implications that result from varying forms of capitalism. Here, the emphasis is placed on the similar and dissimilar ways political forces influence the structure and process of industrial development in the countries studied.
  • POLS 6322 - Environmental and Sustainability Policy
    This course is organized into four parts. In Part I, students will be introduced to the history and political timeline of modern environmental politics. An overview of common problems associated with environmental politics will also be explored. In Part II, students will be introduced to the actors and issues that dominate the domestic environmental policy arena. Similarly, Part III explores key actors and issues faced in the international environmental policy arena. In the final section of the course, students will explore a variety of environmental regimes, including global warming, nuclear waste, deforestation, and chemical pollution. The goal here is to consider the opportunities and obstacles regimes face. Arguments focusing on population, economic development, income inequality, and consumption rates will be discussed and analyzed with respect to their role in environmental degradation.
  • POLS 6710 - International Political Economy
    This seminar is intended to provide a systematic introduction to the political economy of international relations. Readings and writing assignments are designed to explore the usefulness of alternative analytical and theoretical perspectives in addressing the central questions of actor behavior and system governance in the world economy. The aim throughout the course is to encourage students to read and think critically when addressing the literature of International Political Economy.
  • POLS 6750 - The Rise of Global Capitalism
    The goal of this course is to understand the historical and political impacts of global capitalism. This course will assess the rise of capitalism and the global capitalist system over the last two hundred years through the interplay between events, economic theories and government policies. To fully understand this phenomenon, the course is divided into three sections. We begin by exploring the historical, political and social impacts of the Industrial Revolution. Next, the course investigates the rise of the modern capitalist system and the issues, actors and institutions that enable its global impact today. The final section of this course focuses on the field of Comparative Capitalism and the geopolitical implications that result from varying forms of capitalism. Here, the emphasis is placed on the similar and dissimilar ways political forces influence the structure and process of industrial development in the countries studied.
  • POLS 7004 - Research Methods and Design
    This course is a graduate level introduction to the formal process of systematic political research and research design. “Research design” is about proposing research projects that are significant and feasible and that will produce contributions to ongoing scholarly conversations. We will focus on the research process (i.e., formulating a research question, assessing the current state of knowledge, identifying the appropriate research design, hypothesizing, operationalization of concepts, and data collection) and data analysis and testing. Through example and application, students will develop a working knowledge of basic research strategies and applications.

Teaching Projects

  • Women In Politics: Supporting Female Graduate Students in PS. Project Lead: Tabitha Benney. Collaborators: Lina Svedin. CSBS Dean, Scholars Strategy Network, Department of Political Science 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2020. Total Budget: $500.00.
  • Study Abroad Program Development in Costa Rica. Project Lead: Jennifer Watt. 01/15/2015 - 05/31/2016.
  • Women in Political Science Mentoring Project . Project Lead: Tabitha Benney. University of Utah 10/22/2014 - 06/30/2015. Total Budget: $3,000.00.

Current Students

  • Devon Cantwell, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Project Type: Dissertation. Role: Member.