Assistant Professor of English Tim Robbins, PhD, is one of the newer faculty members in Graceland’s Humanities Division — a prolific writer with flare.
Tim Robbins is a crusader for the liberal arts. He explains, “The best part of this job is also the most demanding and the most significant. Every morning, I get to wake up and defend the contemporary relevance of the humanities — a field of knowledge and an approach to the world I hold dearly.”
Robbins attended Hunter College for his undergrad near his home in New York and came to Graceland in 2015, just as he was finishing his PhD from the University of Iowa. He is very appreciative of the university's unique PhD program that focused on pedagogy rather than strictly research. “Their English program — and my mentor, Ed Folsom, especially — prides itself on training lifelong and inspiring teachers of literature. So, even as a second-year PhD student/fledgling apprentice, I recognized my students as the center of my work.”
With passion and innovation, Robbins lists his favorite class to teach as Poetry and Social Justice — a class he designed and led that uses literature as an inroad to social critique. He combined two areas that really get him going.
“IF YOU BELIEVE, AS I DO, THAT KNOWLEDGE IS A COLLABORATIVE, OPEN PROCESS RATHER THAN AN INDIVIDUAL UNDERTAKING, WHAT ELSE IS GOOD SCHOLARSHIP, FINALLY, THAN EXCELLENT TEACHING?”
“All students and all teachers are potential agents of social change. While that maxim resonates in a class like ‘Poetry and Social Justice,’ for me, the claim has to be true across the curriculum.
“I don’t want students to leave a composition class with just mechanical knowledge about thesis statements, paragraphs and transition sentences. I want them to be sharper thinkers and debaters, so that they might convince others to help them bend the world toward fuller justice and equality.”
His students are testaments of his teaching and have overflowing praise for his pedagogy and character as a person. Robbins knows how to create engaging classes that inspire, challenge and affirm each person as a valuable voice.
**Please read the full interview online, and visit his blog as well. You won’t be disappointed!
"Tim has been a huge influence for me. City planning, in my eyes, is a discipline where sustainability practices and social justice make a nexus in the built environment. I've long been interested in issues of sustainability, but thanks largely to conversations with Tim and his classes, I have become acutely aware of social justice issues as well. His earnest investment in fostering equality and standing for social justice has made me a more empathic person, and one who can think critically about how various aspects of a person's identity shape their worldview and personal experiences. The perspective Tim has provided me will guide my practice as a city planner, just as it informs the way I treat people in my everyday life now."
Ryan Schlom ’17 graduated with a BA in English and business administration, with honors, and will begin a master's program in city and regional planning.
"Tim Robbins is a great professor, simply because “he gets it.” He's humanized himself, by that he's allowed for students to feel welcome and worthy in his classroom. He's never put himself on an “all-knowing pedestal.” He's constantly learning with us and for us. I took Poetry and Social Justice, and we were all the teacher in that course. Everyone had an equal opportunity to speak and be heard. I think we all walked away learning something from one another — Tim included. It was probably the most free-thinking, progressive class I've ever taken."
Kee Richards ’17 graduated with a BA in criminal justice and a minor in communication.