Teaching Philosophy

I see my role as a teacher as helping to guide students in developing a critical consciousness of the world that extends beyond the classroom. I implement this practice by diversifying the syllabi, for instance by putting lesser-recognized authors and topics in dialogue with the traditional cannon, practicing a trauma-informed pedagogy in which I help students feel safe and secure in order that they can learn effectively, and framing the content of the course in terms of its bearing on real issues outside of the classroom, such as social justice and interpersonal relationships.

Instructor of Record

PHI 460:
Rights, Duties, and the Meaning of Life: Moral Philosophy,
Grand Valley State University

◦ W23, F23, W24

◦ Class size: 32 students

◦ This course approaches moral theory from a non-ideal perspective, asking students to consider whether and how moral theory and action guidance can operate under the burdens of the real world such as oppression, moral luck, bad actors, and the realities of freedom and responsibility. We will ask how various non-ideal considerations complicate and sometimes undermine moral theorizing, and further determine how we should alter our action-guidance in order to accommodate these messy, imperfect, yet all too common features of human life.

◦ Median rating of teaching by students: 4.8/5 (W23)

◦ Sample Student Comment (W23): …I really appreciated the diversity of authors (and their content) whose works we read and discussed. Prof. L. makes sure to provide a multitude of perspectives to compare and contrast between relating to the subjects in class.”

◦ Sample Student Comment (W23): The most helpful part of this class was the grading system, as the professor understands how the traditional grading system does not work for everyone and factors that into how she formats assignments and more. As a neurodivergent student, this was incredibly helpful and is something that I think all teachers need to be integrating into their class structure.”

◦ Sample Student Comment (W23): Prof. L. has been one of my favorite instructors during my time at GVSU. In the two classes I've taken with her, she has been a down-to-earth, enthusiastic, kind, and helpful mentor with an incredible amount of knowledge on the subjects she teaches. Everyone in the philosophy program (and honestly, everyone at GV) deserves to have at least one class with her.”

PHI 370:
Feminist Philosophy
Grand Valley State University

◦ W20, F20 (virtual), W21 (virtual), F21, W22, F22

◦ Class size: 30 students

◦ I teach this class from a historical perspective, engaging with central feminist theories and thoughts throughout the history of the US feminist waves, including liberal feminism, radical feminism, socialist feminism, and existentialist feminism. The main themes of the class include intersectionality and recognizing interlocking systems of oppression, theoretical analysis of concepts like oppression, misogyny, and resisting oppression, and attention to lived experiences.

◦ Median rating of teaching by students: 4.9/5 (W22)

◦ Sample student comment: "[Professor LaGuardia] discusses everything with so much respect but also knowledge and does a great job at facilitating conversations with the class. She makes everyone feel welcomed and the environment very comfortable for everyone. You can see she truly cares about her students and their well-being which is really nice.”

PHI 202:
Philosophy and Ethics of Health
Grand Valley State University

◦ F22, W22, W23

◦ Class size: 32 students

◦ This course asks students to interrogate the meaning and role of health in our lives, as well as to analyze the ethical dimensions of healthcare. This course situates concepts of health and disease and medical practice in terms of a broader socio-political context and has a particular focus on issues of injustice in healthcare, an emphasis on lived experiences, and questions about the role of health and illness in a life well-lived.

◦ Median rating of teaching by students: 4.8/5 (W23)

◦ Sample Student Comment (W23): "This class as a whole was really pushing the boundaries and trying to get us to think about difficult scenarios not necessarily talked about in common conversation. It posed difficult topics and forced us to rationalize our view on the scenario using philosophical and ethical rationale. Though I may not agree with some of the opinions expressed our professor provide a great backdrop for inclusion and openness to all viewpoints. I liked the open expression allowed in each class time and ability to think and apply concepts."

PHI 102:
Grand Valley State University

◦ F19, W20, F21, W22

◦ Class size: 32 students

◦ This course engages with primary sources of central ethical theories while also challenging these theories using non-ideal ethical theories. That is, in addition to considering deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics, the class also looks at how conditions of injustice (like oppression, colonialism, and trauma) impact ethical theorizing and practice. This class asks students to learn the material in a hands-on way, but analyzing and applying these theories to realistic cases.

◦ Average median rating of teaching by students: 4.8/5.0 (W22)

◦ Sample student comment: "What contributed most to my learning was the professor. She is fantastic, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and much more! Her excitement for the material makes me happy to be in the class. She is organized, understanding to the things we have to deal with outside of class, and is just thorough. I never left the class confused. This class is truly one of those classes that [you're] happy to be in for the experience because the professor is so uniquely profound and great at what they do. I wouldn't have chosen another professor for this class. She embodies what a professor should be like at the university level!”

PHI 101:
Introduction to Philosophy,
Grand Valley State University

◦ F20 (virtual), W21 (virtual)

◦ Class size: 32 students

◦ This course combines a historical and topical approach to introduce students to foundational concepts and arguments in philosophy, including units on Platonic dialogues, God and Problem of Evil, Buddhism, Confucianism, Free Will and Moral Responsibility, Feminism and Anti-Racism, Epistemology, Existentialism, and Marxism. Throughout the course, you will be asked to critically examine the underlying assumptions of your own worldview and charitably consider the views of others. By the end of the course, you should be able to analyze some central arguments and issues that have shaped the history of philosophy and strengthen the critical thinking abilities needed to keep questioning.

◦ Median rating of teaching by students: 4.7/5 (W21, virtual)

◦ Sample Student Comment (W21, virtual): Professor LaGuardia was extremely friendly so I always felt encouraged to throw out an answer even if I wasn't sure. She also ran the online course wonderfully by making it comfortable - didn't require webcams or mics but we contributed on the whiteboard. I really enjoyed her approach to online learning.”

◦ Sample Student Comment (W21, virtual): "The confusing material was very easy to work through and understand with the guidance of professor LaGuardia. I thought the material was very interesting and much is applicable to everyday life.”

PHIL 1104:
Philosophy and Social Ethics
University of Connecticut

◦ F14, S15, S17, Su17

◦ Class size: 30 students

◦ This class is an introduction to major ethical theories, including virtue ethics, utilitarianism, deontology, and care ethics, and explores questions such as: do we have to be ethical to live a happy life? Is morality always other-directed, or can one have self-regarding moral duties? Can ethical inquiry help us find meaning in our lives?

◦ Average median rating of teaching by students: 4.5/5.0

◦ Sample student comment: “When she started teaching the material, she made it natural for students to give their opinion, and she never made anyone feel like what they said didn't matter. People seemed eager to contribute to class and her humor is casual, which makes people comfortable in class.”

PHIL 1107:
Philosophy and Gender
University of Connecticut

◦ S16, S16, S17

◦ Class size: 30 students

◦ This course is an introduction to some of the major questions surrounding gender from the standpoint of social ethics. Topics include: gender essentialism and gender constructivism, transgender and intersex identities, intersectionality, masculinity, gender oppression and the obligation to resist.

◦ Average median rating of teaching by students: 4.6/5.0

◦ Sample student comment: “She allowed the students to have some jurisdiction over what we discussed and how long we spent on one topic. This flexibility was really nice because we were able to fully understand things that we might not have if we had rushed over them.”

PHIL 1106:
Non-Western and Comparative Philosophy
University of Connecticut

◦ F15, F16

◦ Class size: 30 students

◦ This course is in introduction to some of the major philosophical and religious views that grapple with questions of death, ethics, and reality. Texts representing Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Akan philosophies are analyzed and compared to Western philosophers like Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Beauvoir.

◦ Average median rating of teaching by students: 4.5/5.0

◦ Sample student comment: “She was very enthusiastic about the topic which made learning more interesting. She also related philosophical content to modern day life which made it easier to understand the subject.”

PHIL 1101:
Problems in Philosophy
University of Connecticut

◦ F15, co-taught with Mitch Green

◦ Class size: 40 students

◦ This course serves as an introduction to some of the major questions in philosophical discourse, including: does God exist, and if so, how can God let suffering occur? How do we know what we know? What does it mean to do the right thing? Are we free?

Teaching Assistant
Fall 2012 - Spring 2014
University of Connecticut

◦ PHIL 1101 Problems of Philosophy(S14)

◦ PHIL 1102 Philosophy and Logic(F13)

◦ PHIL 1104 Philosophy and Social Ethics(S13)

◦ PHIL 1107 Philosophy and Gender(F12)