History, Politics, and Law Department

My teaching philosophy

The most important goal I pursue when teaching students is developing trust and minimizing the hierarchical structure of the classroom. One thing we do at the beginning of the semester is have a discussion about the syllabus. I want students to give me feedback and tell me what they want to learn, not merely tell them what I think they should learn. Another way we achieve this is to have student-run classes and share the power of the classroom.

For example, on Tuesdays I lecture on the topic of the week. On Thursdays, the students lead the discussion, facilitate the class, and have overall control of the class. I help and offer input but the learning experience is centered on them. When students feel ownership, they feel more comfortable contributing to the conversation.

Why Naz?

  • Nazareth’s pursuit of holistic, liberal arts education matches my interdisciplinary research and teaching interests. 
  • The college’s commitment to social justice and community engagement resonates with my professional and personal beliefs.
  • Naz balances traditional classroom learning with experiential learning beyond the classroom and within the community.
  • The students are thoughtful, friendly, and engaged.
  • Students here want to learn, and I want to teach and learn from them in turn. 
  • At Naz, I can be my full professional and personal self.

History and Political Science Department 

The History and Political Science Department is filled with wonderful professors and colleagues. Nazareth is not primarily a research school, but the level of publications from the department is inspiring. My colleagues are passionate about their teaching and their research and it translates throughout the department. In addition, they’re just great people! I love the balance of pursuing my academic passions through research while experiencing the joy of teaching in a classroom. Currently, my research focuses on grassroots response to drug crises.

Advice for students

No matter what profession or practice you find yourself in, be critical. So much of the information you encounter is meant to persuade you, and you should try to be aware of these influences and how they impact your decisions. There is also no such thing as too much reading! Read as much as you can, from as many perspectives as you can. This will challenge your assumptions and help you grow. To that point, no work product is ever perfect; there is always room for improvement. I love to give feedback so don’t be concerned when you see a ton of comments on your papers from me!

Courses

  • Black Music and Activism 
  • Introduction to Law 
  • African Americans and the Law 
  • African American History 
  • Legal Writing and Research
  • Legal Studies Seminar - History of Incarceration
  • Drugs in American Culture

Student perspective

"I took four classes with Professor Wolfe during my time at Nazareth, and they were always one of the classes I looked most forward to. She taught us law and history with a focus on important current and ongoing social justice issues, but despite the often difficult topics, her classroom always felt inviting. Her balance of challenging students while also putting their needs first prepared me for law school better than I ever could have imagined and played a key role in my positive experience at Naz."

—  Sydney Albrecht '20, who went on to study law at Northeastern University in Boston

Noel Wolfe

What would students be surprised to learn?

I was a former rugby player in college and for years thereafter. I am also an avid reader. I sometimes read 4-5 books in a week. This may not be a surprise, but I was a practicing trial attorney for nearly a decade before I got my Ph.D. Teaching is my second career and I fully support students embracing a diversity of career paths.

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