New Faculty Interview: Dr. Shawn Bailey

An image of an old world map | Source: Connecticut College

Walking into IMSA second semester, you may be surprised to see so many new faces! Whether you are walking past security, human resources, or into a classroom, there is a possibility that you will run into some new members of the IMSA community. One new faculty member that IMSA has recently hired is Dr. Shawn Bailey, a teacher in the history/social sciences department.

Dr. Bailey has a BA from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters and Doctorate in History from the University of Montana. By training, he is an environmental historian with an interest in the negative consequences of conservation/preservation, such as the creation of national parks.

He goes on to mention how, “In Superior, the creation of the national forest and accompanying wildlife refuge served as a form of social manipulation to control striking miners from diverse immigrant populations in the region.”

Dr. Bailey grew up loving history, as his dad was a history major in college and a high school history teacher and took him on trips to various historical sites such as Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Monticello.

When asked what aspect of teaching he finds most rewarding, Dr. Bailey answers, “I think students developing their own research projects, thinking critically about historical sources, and writing well-crafted even elegant history about topics they are passionate about is most rewarding. One of my favorite assignments is a bioregional history paper. Students write histories of chosen bioregions—a place with definable natural borders as opposed to political ones—and make arguments about how changing conceptions of the environmental world impacted their particular place. Ideally, students will choose a place that is important to them, to their family, or perhaps their community. When they do, they often produce well-crafted historical arguments with present-day meaning and impact.”

So far, Dr. Bailey has been very satisfied with his experience teaching at IMSA.

In simply his first week and a half of teaching at IMSA, he has, “…been so impressed with the abilities, interests, and efforts of the student body. One of my first classes at IMSA involved the topic of the filibuster and voting. I asked one question to the class and then we had a 40-minute discussion on the topic.”

He says that he has, “very supportive and talented colleagues in the History and Social Science department, as well as throughout the school. I have been very impressed with the work ethic and engagement of the student body, and their willingness to read primary source documents in a search for greater meaning and to make connective arguments about key events in American history.” Dr. Bailey currently teaches one section of America in the Contemporary World and three sections of American Studies.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Bailey was an avid rugby player, playing competitively for over 20 years with one of the oldest rugby clubs in England and with a Chicagoland team that advanced to the national championship game. Now, he plays recreationally and is more likely to be seen hiking and visiting national parks, reading, golfing, or taking his son fishing.

Finally, Dr. Bailey just wants to let you, his students, know that “I am passionate about being at IMSA, both in and out of the classroom. I love teaching history, and I hope that ardor comes through in my classes. But I am engaged in the school beyond just teaching and that my office door is always open.”

About the Author

Nandana Varma
Nandana Varma is a rising senior at IMSA from Elgin. Outside The Acronym, she is interested in biology, math, and cooking. This is her first year on The Acronym and she joined The Acronym because of her passion for writing!

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