In the past couple of days I've realized that the good folks at Sejong University think I know what I'm doing, so they're basically letting me look after myself. Classes start in 2 days, so I've been busy trying to get ready to teach.
Full-time professors at Sejong teach 5 classes a year: usually 3 in one semester, and 2 in the other. As you can imagine, I was hoping to get the lighter load in my first semester, but that isn't to be - I will be teaching 3 classes for the next 4 months.
Given that Sejong doesn't actually have a "Political Science" department, I am a member of the Public Administration faculty. This absence of PoliSci majors means I won't be teaching advanced or graduate courses in specific subject areas (e.g. Canadian Politics or Parliamentary Democracy). Rather, I will be teaching general courses, mostly to non-majors. For any "true" academic, this would be horrible, as they see themselves as 90% researcher and 10% teacher, and get promoted mostly on the basis of publishing research. As such, they only want to teach within their specialty.
For me, I see myself as a teacher first, and consequently look forward to teaching students from other departments about the basics of politics and government. As time goes by, I think it's also likely my course offerings will become more fine-tuned as the department gets to know what I can do, and I am able to assess where I can make the most meaningful contribution. For this semester, I'm teaching the following three courses:
1) Introduction to Politics and Government - this is a general course for undergraduates from any year and any department. My goal it to help them become better able to understand and participate in public life. I expect to have 30-40 students. I think of this as PoliSci100lite.
2) Politics & Government in the United States & South Korea - this is a course for seniors in the Public Administration department. We will compare the republican governments in the USA and ROK, and will also contrast those republican structures to parliamentary systems in the United Kingdom and Canada. This class will be small, probably less than 10 students.
3) Political Thought - this course is being offered to international graduate students through the Asian Studies department. I've already begun brushing up on my Plato and Aristotle, and will have to be ready to fly through the centuries to get to Marx and Engels by the end of April. In May and June, I will introduce 4 basic political perspectives (liberal, conservative, socialist & fascist), then we will examine some issues through those paradigms. I expect about 20-30 international students from around the world.
Those familiar with my scholastic and political background know I'm not an academic authority in any of these areas. Having said that, I expect I still know more than the students, and look forward to getting myself back up to speed in many of these areas (given it's been almost 30 years since I left academia at Stony Brook). Heck, if Leonardo DiCaprio can pull off being a surgeon and airline pilot in "Catch Me If You Can", surely I can handle a university professor gig!
Anyway, I'm in my office today, learning stuff I'm already supposed to know. I'll keep you posted...