Merle Eisenberg earned a Ph.D. in History, and took part in the Community College Teaching Fellowship Program.
He is an assistant professor of history at Oklahoma State University with a cluster appointment in the newly established pandemic center at OSU, and is a historian of late antiquity and the early middle ages (c. 300-1000 CE) where he works on a variety of topics about the end of the Roman Empire and the first plague pandemic (known as the Justinianic Plague).
"Princeton’s Community College Teaching Partnership Program offers perhaps the best opportunity for graduate students at Princeton to develop their potential as teachers and also give back to the local community. During my first few years at Princeton, I took a number of McGraw Center seminars on pedagogy, attended all of the history department’s offerings on teaching, and precepted for a course. But the Community College Teaching Partnership provided me with the missing opportunity: teaching my own course from planning to grading. Foundations, theories, and ideas are vital, but there is no substitute for actually teaching, which can, at times, be hard to arrange at Princeton. Through the McGraw Center, for example, I knew that “active-learning” was a key idea for teaching, but it was only at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), where I taught Western Civilization to 1648, that I realized how difficult it was to employ effectively. Once I tested a variety of active learning techniques – trials of famous historical figures and theological debates to name just a few – I realized the power it has to engage students at a deeper level.
Teaching at MCCC also strengthened my presentation skills, since getting 25 students excited about material twice a week helped me at scholarly conferences. Teaching can even answer the most basic question: do you like to teach? If you are interested in going into an academic job, it seems useful to try it out. Finally, I found the mentoring of students at MCCC a wonderful experience, which I hope also helped the undergraduates as well. The program is a great way to make an impact on the lives of students from the region."