Even as a college student, Dr. Robyn Rosen has always loved to learn. She has since made a career learning about specialized subjects in history and does her best to instill this love of learning in her students at Marist. Professor Rosen teaches classes on American History, America Since 1945, FDR, and Manhood and Masculinity. Around campus, she is best known for teaching a first-year seminar class titled, "All About the 1970’s."
What is your favorite class to teach at Marist and why?
I think I’ve come to really love the first year seminar about the seventies. I like being able to help students transition from high school to college. They have so much they need to learn and it is such a vulnerable time for them. I really enjoy being on that journey with them, plus it’s such a fun class. You get to talk about Watergate, disco, fashion, movies, television shows, we read fiction from the period, so it’s very different from a high school history class. I tell them we aren’t going to shy away from controversial topics since that all originated in the seventies.
Why would you recommend your first-year seminar to incoming students?
I think I focus a lot on building skills that will help them be successful college students. They are doing specific work in my class, but they are practicing skills that will be of help in any class and any major. So we are practicing our writing skills and helping them learn how to do research at the library. I hope and I think I am doing a good job helping them become successful college students. A fun reason is that at the end of the semester we have a disco dance party and the students create a song playlist for the party as part of their assignment.
Why did you feel it was important for Marist to have a women’s studies program?
A simple answer would be that we have to be competitive with every other college in America that has had one. These programs started in the seventies, so when I came here 20 years ago, one of the first things I did was help start the women’s studies program. I would just say that, just like I teach classes that focus on gender and masculinity and feminism, I always include women’s history in all of my classes. I just think that makes me a better historian and a better teacher when you include everybody.
What did you learn in college that you try to bring to your own classroom?
I guess I remember the thing that I loved the most in college was being introduced to new ways of thinking. I remember being so excited, and my friends would make fun of me, because I would say things like, “did you ever think about that, because I never did!” I guess passing that along, that moment where the light bulb goes off in someone’s head and their thinking is kind of altered. I love that. That is what I try to do for my students.
What is the most important thing we can learn from studying American History?
I tell them that I want them to learn the story of our country so that they can learn about the great challenges, the victories, the achievements and even the mistakes. It will help them, I hope, be better citizens. I tell them that we aren’t subjects of a king we are citizens of a republic and we have responsibilities as citizens.
How do you think your teaching methods differ from other professors?
Because I have taught first-year students for so long, I am pretty in tune to their need for support along the way. So I provide a lot of that support, I do a lot of smaller assessments as opposed to a big final exam, I try to go for quality over quantity. I feel like in my classes they get why they are doing what they are doing, and that there is a reason for everything. They come to trust me because they know I am looking out for them and I want them to succeed.
What sort of work do you do outside of the classroom?
I do my own research. I am a practicing historian so I just had a sabbatical last spring and I worked on an article that I submitted to a history journal. That research came out of my teaching my first-year seminar on the seventies. My book was written about 10 years ago and that was about the history of the birth control movement in the 1920’s and 30’s. Now my research is on Planned Parenthood in the 1970’s. My teaching has helped to shape my research in a way.
Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Academic School: Liberal Arts
Campus: New York