Pepperdine International Studies professor John Taden smiles for a photo. Taden was born in Ghana and said his expertise on global issues will be beneficial to his students. Photo courtesy of Pepperdine University
Assistant Professor of International Studies John Taden brings his knowledge on African politics to Pepperdine, hoping to enlighten students. Born in Ghana, Taden said he wants his students to be as knowledgeable about the world as possible, and he can help them do that.
Taden earned his bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. Taden said he uses a multitude of resources and activities to engage students in his Contemporary African Politics class.
“So far, in the classroom, I’ve been trying to make sure that I get my students thinking more broadly about the world and some of the most pressing issues,” Taden said.
Taden also teaches an International Relations course.
Furthering a Passion for Justice in Africa at Pepperdine
After earning his doctorate from the University of Texas, Dallas in Public Policy and Political Economy, Taden taught at UT Dallas from 2019-21. He said he enjoys teaching his students a wide array of topics such as politics and economics, with a focus on Africa.
Taden said his interest in Pepperdine originated from the University’s interest in issues regarding justice in Africa.
“Concern for justice issues in Africa is something that I have been passionate about,” Taden said. “I felt we could work together on more levels than just academics or teaching in the classroom.”
Meeting the administration of Pepperdine solidified this love for the community and mission of the school, Taden said.
“Throughout the interview process, [President Jim Gash] laid out his agenda for the University in a way that made me feel like I had a very important responsibility to play in that agenda,” Taden said. “It made me feel valuable to bring my services.”
Wanting his students to think more broadly about the world, Taden said he brings knowledge that will benefit anyone who takes his class.
“My future goal for Pepperdine University is to be an important resource for the University’s goal of expanding students’ worldview into Africa and other areas of the world in my international relations and African politics classroom research,” Taden said.
Taden said he also wants to include students in his research and help them to become more knowledgeable in how the research process is done.
“I plan to give them the skills that they need to be able to explore answers to questions that they have without a teacher standing beside them,” Taden said.
In the classroom, Taden utilizes different interactive activities to make his courses more engaging for his students. For example, Taden said he had his class do a U.N. simulation for one of their activities.
“I had students representing various countries in the U.N. Security Council to debate the dispute in the East China Sea, and to think about solutions to potential clashes in the China Sea,” Taden said.
Taden said he also invites guest speakers to his classes to further expand the minds of students.
The students are Taden’s favorite part of being a professor at Pepperdine, he said. With hopes that his students will become “lifelong learners” who seek knowledge everywhere they go, Taden is open for students to come to him with any questions they may have.
“I think that the students are very engaging, they’re very interested in the material that I teach,” Taden said. “And so just walking to class every day, makes me feel like walking into my favorite place in the world.”
Liza Esquibias contributed to this reporting.
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