Kenyan Professor at Mount Holyoke College MA voted the Best
It is no surprise that Professor Samuel Ndegeah has earned the nickname ‘the great Kenyan” among students and peers. Ndegeah started at the College’s Geography department just this fall, following previous teaching po- sitions at the University of Nairobi, University of Idaho and Elon University. Although he recently began teaching at the College, he is already a hit with his students. In fact, according to the “student-acclaimed” RateMyPro- fessors.com, several Mount Holyoke students have given his overall teaching quality a score of 4.7 out of five. One student claimed, “This man is raw. He most likely has a better take of ‘Third World Development’ than most of the development professors you’ve had. Though at first you may enter with a Western lens in examining devel- opment, this man does a fine job introducing you to an extended perspective. Moreover, he is ALWAYS there for his students. He is an inspiration.”
Students at Professor Ndegeah’s previous teaching position at Elon University would agree: “Sam is a truly remarkable soul and he lives for his students. My per- spective on the class and my thesis completely changed because he made it much more than a class,” one student remarked.
As reflected in his impressive list of degrees — Ph.D in Geography to a Masters in Urban and Regional Plan- ning — his teaching interests are myriad and nuanced, such as “Human Dimensions of Global Environmen- tal Change” and “Geography of Conflict and Resource Wars.” The courses themselves intersect with many dif- ferent fields of study, creating compelling classes across multiple disciplines.
Professor Ndegeah’s current area of research is be- yond fascinating. His concentration is currently on “iden- tifying and analyzing historical and current institutional structures influencing patterns of land use/change in the peri-urban environments in Sub-Saharan Africa.” He plans to explore this using multiple lenses: “sociocul- tural, economic, political, epistemic and environmental.”
For those of you wondering where he will take his research, Professor Ndegeah plans to explore the rela- tionship between the formal and informal institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as the relationship between geography and politics. He wants “to understand the ways in which spatial relationships such as geography influence political outcomes or shape the decisions of political actors, including, but not limited to, individuals, groups, states and countries.”
You can find Professor Ndegeah teaching his 300-lev- el Geography seminar — Third World Development — every fall. The course focuses on the contemporary de- velopment of what is referred to as the “Third World” via an interdisciplinary perspective on social, economic and political characteristics. He stresses the importance of studying current world issues and encourages students to apply them to what they are learning in the course. At the beginning of every class period, he asks students to present information about an ongoing event pertain- ing to the environment and/or development of the “Third World.”
By the end of the course, Professor Ndegeah wants his students to be able to examine and analyze the theo- ries behind development strategies and policies, under- stand how prospects for development can be affected by environmental issues and how environmental conditions can be affected by the aforementioned “development pol- icies and strategies.”
His Mount Holyoke course syllabus includes a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that succinctly encompass- es his teaching style — “The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what s/ he shall know, what s/he shall do. It is chosen and fore- ordained, and s/he only holds the key to his/her own secret.”
BY MICHALA SAWYER