The Political Science Department at The University of Scranton welcomed a new assistant professor this year.
JoyAnna Hopper, Ph.D. began her career as an assistant professor at The University of Scranton this past summer. Before teaching at Scranton, she worked as a graduate professor at the University of Missouri and an assistant professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.
Professor Hopper currently teaches introductory American politics courses, including a class that covers U.S. politics, citizenship and principles as well as a class that covers the U.S. Congress. Hopper said that her favorite classes to teach are the ones dealing with policy.
“I love all of my classes, but I really like teaching my policy classes [because] that’s my area of specialization,” Hopper said.
Professor Hopper is teaching both of her classes online this semester. She said that teaching online is a brand-new experience, but that it’s worked out so far.
“I feel OK about it because the online environment is allowing me to see [my students’] faces, where I wouldn’t actually be able to see [them] in a classroom,” Hopper said.
She said that her students have been engaged in the material, despite the virtual format.
“I feel like my students are really rising to the occasion here, so that has absolutely been my favorite part of being here,” she said.
Her classes are mostly centered around group discussions. She said she incorporated more small group discussions in her classes in order to allow for a variety of perspectives and thoughts.
“I started using small groups to try and make sure that there is a diversity of voices in classes and to make sure that everybody has a chance to talk about the material and ask questions,” she said.
Hopper was hoping to teach at an institute that has a focus on liberal arts, which made Scranton the perfect fit. She said that Scranton’s values really spoke to her.
“I wanted to work in a place… [with] a dedication to sending students out into the world as fully formed, active, engaged citizens who are working toward justice and taking care of each other,” Hopper said, “This is a place where that is top priority.”
The location of The University of Scranton also benefitted Hopper, because it allows her to be close to her family. Hopper’s family lives in the State College area, and she said she is lucky to be so close.
“As an academic, you don’t always get to live close to your family, and so I’m very lucky that I get to live within a couple of hours from my parents,” Hopper said.
Professor Hopper received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University. She then got her master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Missouri.
She also published a book regarding state-level environmental agencies. She is teaching a policy analysis course next semester and hopes to teach more policy classes in the future.
“I like to teach social welfare policy [and] environmental policy, [both of which] are things I’m supposed to be teaching here eventually,” Hopper said.