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René Luís Alvarez, PhD

Clinical Associate Professor, History; Assistant Dean, Faculty Development

Rene Luis Alvarez headshot
  • 312.915.8929
  • Maguire 382
  • Education

    Loyola University Chicago (BA '91), New York University (MA), Northwestern University (MSEd), University of Pennsylvania (PhD)

    Courses Taught

    • ACHIS 220 Introduction to Mexican American History
    • ACHIS 202 United States History since 1865
    • ACHIS 201 United States History to 1865
    • ACHIS 102 Western Civilization from the 17th Century
    • ACHIS 101 Western Civilization to the 17th Century

    Research Interests

    American educational history, Mexican American history, urban history, history education (the teaching and learning of the past)


    Chicago, Illinois

    What attracted you to Arrupe College?

    Many aspects of Arrupe College attracted me. One was Arrupe’s connection to Loyola University Chicago. As an alum, I always have been proud of my affiliation with Loyola. As a graduate of Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences, I always have appreciated the rigor and the quality of the education I received. Being part of Arrupe College provides me the opportunity to use that education for the benefit of others in the Loyola community. Related to this are the Jesuit values that Arrupe embodies in both theory and practice. The faculty and staff take the mission of Arrupe College to heart and incorporate it into their everyday work for the benefit of our students. Last but not least, there are the students, who are eager and work hard to achieve as much as they can. Arrupe students have a strong sense of why they are here and demonstrate a clear understanding of what an Arrupe education means for them now and in the future.

    Talk a little about the classes you teach.

    I teach history survey courses; introductory courses that cover long stretches of time and place within a short period of time. Students in the Western Civilization surveys learn history from the earliest human civilizations that originated in present-day North Africa and the Middle East, to the Classic period of Greek and Roman civilization, to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance of Western Europe, to the 19th century eras of revolution and war, and into the 20th century global society. Students in the United States History surveys learn about the area of North America that became the U.S. from the pre-Colombian era to the Civil War, and from Reconstruction to the early 21st century. Students in the Mexican American History survey learn about pre-Colombian Latin American indigenous societies, U.S. westward expansion and annexation of large portions of modern-day Mexico, and the challenges and triumphs of Mexican Americans' ongoing civil rights struggles. I utilize various instructional methods in my teaching and students engage a variety of primary and secondary sources from various media in their study of the past.

    How did you get involved in teaching history?

    I began my career in higher education in student services and administration, but this did not require me to utilize my undergraduate history major. I soon transitioned to teaching at the secondary level. After several years teaching at a public high school in Pennsylvania, I decided to pursue my doctorate in history. I was the teaching assistant for several undergraduate courses as a doctoral student, was the primary instructor for several other courses in my immediate post-doctoral career, and now am at Arrupe College. I love history—and I want to share that love with students.

    What’s your favorite part about teaching? And the biggest challenge?

    My favorite part about teaching would have to be sharing the moment with individual students when they grasp an idea with which they previously had been struggling to understand. I incorporate several different pedagogical methods in my instruction, which lends itself to approaching different problems of the past from various perspectives which in turn promotes students’ independent thinking and facilitates their arriving at their own conclusions about those concepts. Bearing witness to a student’s personal “a-ha” moment at the end of such a process is gratifying indeed. An occasional challenge, however, is fostering students’ participation in their own learning processes. In my experience, history at the primary and secondary education levels tend to mostly involve students receiving information and then being asked to recall and recite a set of facts. At the college level, however, history requires students to think crucially and independently while asking them to articulate their own interpretations of the past with supporting evidence. Meeting that challenge is why I do what I do in the ways that I do.