Associate professor of political science
Coffman chair for university distinguished teaching scholars
Transferring information to students in the traditional classroom setting isn't enough for John Fliter, an associate professor of political science and a Coffman chair for distinguished teaching scholars.
Fliter strives to make sure students understand and are able to apply the knowledge they've learned by using classroom simulations, role-playing and other exercises.
"I approach my classes with not only the desire to convey information about a subject to students but also to get them to apply that knowledge," Fliter said. "It's not just the transmission of facts and concepts but the application of knowledge that is important to their education."
Fliter enjoys interacting with students in the classroom, helping them learn what's going on in the world and giving them the tools to understand the nation's legal and political system. He is known for his creative classroom exercises and short courtroom case studies. Students role-play to find a solution using the knowledge they have gained from readings and classroom discussions. In his constitutional law class, students write a research paper about a current Supreme Court justice. At the end of the class, students are given a courtroom scenario, in which they role-play and make a final decision as their assigned justice.
"In a traditional classroom setting, a professor lectures about facts and theories and the students just sit there and write it down," Fliter said. "Then we test them on how well they've learned all this information, but they are not doing anything with it. Role-playing or a simulation takes it to the next level. The students are actually applying their knowledge to solve problems or look at things from a different perspective. I think that's a higher level of learning."
As the university's Coffman chair in 2013-2014, he expanded the use of simulations and role-playing in multiple subject areas on campus.
Fliter teaches courses in areas such as U.S. politics, civil rights and liberties, and administrative law. His research interests include the Supreme Court and the New Deal, judicial policy-making, civil rights and liberties, and law, politics and literature. His works on freedom of speech, church-state relations and prison reform litigation have appeared in many prestigious publications, including The Law and Society Review, Journal of Political Science Education and The Justice Professional. He received the university's Presidential Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence in 2010 and is the former chair of the Lou Douglas Lecture Series Committee. He also serves as co-adviser to the university's Model UN team.
He received his bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Northridge, and his master's degree and doctorate from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Fliter can be contacted at 785-532-0445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pronouncer: Fliter is Flight-er