Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

Teaching Spotlight

Title:

Professor, Department of English

Years ago, Pamela Caughie found herself in a board meeting tasked with coming up with a new slogan for Loyola’s letterhead. In a room full of priests and academics, Caughie pitched, “What about this: Loyola University Chicago, ‘Chicago’s Feminist Jesuit University.’ Why not? They go so well together. It's what makes us different from all the other Jesuit schools!” 

Caughie laughed to herself as she recalled this memory, “I was joking of course, but I really did mean it.” Loyola’s mission is what first encouraged Caughie to work here when offered professorship thirty years ago. “As a feminist, I felt a very strong connection with the Jesuit mission and standing up for the oppressed. That’s what really resonated with me when I first came to Loyola.” 

In addition to breathing fresh air into board meetings, Caughie has brought new ideas and teaching styles into the classroom for the past thirty years. She’s found that what sets her English and gender studies courses apart from the others is up to date, relevant content and a focus on teaching the student rather than teaching the subject. In order to get to know her students better, rather than going around the room and sharing where you’re from, what you’re studying and a fun fact about yourself, Caughie has something more personal in mind.

“The first assignment I give students on day one is to write me a short paper in response to the question ‘What would you like me to know about you?’ in the sense of ‘What would make me a better teacher?’ It can be as open or as guarded as they want, I don’t share it with anybody, and I think that allows them to understand that I’m teaching them and not just my subject. And it also gives them a chance to tell me their anxieties, their difficulties, their passions, their avocations, what kind of clubs they’re involved in. I want to get to know each of them as a person.”

After sharing a little bit about themselves, Caughie hopes her students can share her passion for learning and generosity for openness inside and outside the classroom. Whether it’s having coffeehouse hours in addition to office hours or going to the Women’s March with her students, Caughie makes an effort to get to know her students as individuals. In doing so, Caughie finds a way to not only learn more about different experiences and cultures, but is able to teach the whole person. With her attention to cura personalis and emphasis on critical thinking, it's no question why Caughie’s former students stay in touch and are willing to help with any research projects.

Interview and write up by Kerry Snider

Student Worker, Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

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