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

Current Courses

Fall 2022

  • POLS-6710
    Int'l Political Economy
  • POLS-5322
    Enviro/Sustain Policy
  • POLS-6850
    Field Sem Intntl Rel
  • POLS-6322
    Enviro/Sustain Policy
  • POLS-5710
    Int'l Political Economy

Summer 2022

Spring 2022

Professional Organizations

  • 2021 - present. Position : Member.
  • 2016 - 2024. Position : Research Fellow.
  • 2015 - 2018. Position : Co-Chair.
  • 2009 - 2024. Position : Member.
  • 2008 - 2024. 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-6710 - Int'l Political Economy
  • POLS-5322 - Enviro/Sustain Policy
  • POLS-6850 - Field Sem Intntl Rel
  • POLS-6322 - Enviro/Sustain Policy
  • POLS-5710 - Int'l Political Economy
  • PUBPL-6001 - Policy Arenas
  • POLS-5710 - Int'l Political Economy
  • POLS-6710 - Int'l Political Economy
  • POLS-6960 - Special Topics
  • POLS-5750 - Global Capitalism
  • POLS-6750 - Global Capitalism

Teaching Projects

  • Study Abroad Program Development in Costa Rica. Project Lead: 2015 - 2016.