instills basics of critical thinking
Waldner has become one of the most popular professors in the Department
of Government and Foreign Affairs not by coddling his students,
but by challenging them.
has a reputation as a difficult grader," wrote colleague
John Echeverri-Gent. "His syllabi are renowned for being
among the most demanding at the University. ...The norm for David's
500-level seminars is 300 pages of reading and a weekly written
assignment to which he responds with detailed written comments.
David drives himself hard as a teacher. He challenges his students
to achieve high standards. They rise to the occasion."
the academic rigor, students give him high marks and advise their
peers to register for his classes. One student, David Wilkinson,
wrote, "If Professor Waldner taught a class about dirt, I
have every confidence that the class would fill rapidly."
takes a multidisciplinary approach to his classes, assigning reading
not just on his specialties, comparative politics and international
relations, but also texts that shed light on those topics from
sociology, history, anthropology, economics and philosophy. His
lectures challenge students to think for themselves, to critique
the theories of scholars and come up with their own.
along with many fellow students, believed I had no basis for criticizing
professional scholars and professors for their views depicted
in political science literature," wrote third-year Echols
Scholar David Mrazik. "By the second day of class, Professor
Waldner had almost the entire class offering suggestions, criticisms,
and opinions about the reading."
has taught 10 different courses in his 10 semesters at U.Va.,
and plans two more new courses in 2000-01. But he hopes students
come away from all of them with one important piece of knowledge.
the courses I teach, regardless of their substantive content,
are but platforms for urging my students to be relentlessly critical
of all received wisdom at all times, and for supplying them with
the tools they need to pursue that goal effectively. I believe
that the intellectual fundaments students learn will stay with
them, even as the factual content of the courses fades from their
memories over time."