Teaching Relief for Learning Testimonials

Each semester, a selected number of FAS faculty will be eligible for a novel kind of teaching relief: “Teaching Relief for Learning” (TRL). The purpose of a TRL is to allow a faculty member to spend a semester in the classroom on the other side of the desk – as a student. Faculty may take courses related to research and teaching projects, they may use this opportunity to explore new fields or hone new technical skills and knowledge, or they may use the opportunity for pure intellectual exploration. Learn more and apply here.

Below, faculty who participated in TRL shared their thoughts on and experiences of the program.

Participating Faculty

Ivano Dal Prete, History

Fall 2023
Courses in History of Art, Geology, and Anthropology
The “Scholars as Learners” program was a transformational experience! As an instructor in the History of Science and Medicine program, I teach an inherently interdisciplinary field that has become only more so in recent decades. The classes I was able to take in Art History, Geology, Anthropology, allowed me to overcome the limitations of my background and gain a much better grasp of disciplines that are essential to my work. What I learned from colleagues in other departments has strengthened my existing courses, and inspired me to create new ones. I am grateful I was able to take this opportunity.

Claire Bowern, Linguistics

Spring 2022

Courses in Evolutionary Biology and Statistics & Data Science

The TRL semester helped me both see how to teach mathematical models used in linguistics and get a better overall sense of how the statistics work I do fits into other subjects. TRL offered a particular type of intellectual rejuvenation around covid – it was wonderful to have space to explore concepts outside of and complementary to my areas of focus.

David Engerman, History

Spring 2022

Courses in Economics and Music

It was such a luxury to return to student life for a semester.  As I had hoped, I learned a great deal from my Economics colleagues for my current book project.  And as a pleasant surprise, I also learned more about how Yale College looks from the student point of view.

James Glenn, Computer Science

Spring 2022

A course in Computer Science

I wanted to be able to teach a course that addressed an area of need in my department, so I used my TRL to take Introductions to Systems Programming CS323 – a class whose prerequisite I regularly taught. It was reassuring to see a lot of the material I included in the prerequisite class, and it gave me a better view of the curriculum as a whole.

Margherita Tortora, Spanish and Portuguese

Fall 2021

Courses in Film and Media Studies, Anthropology, and History

I was able to attend a marvelous course taught by Prof. Claudia Valeggia that has long caught my eye, Anthropology 230: Evolutionary Biology of Women’s Reproductive Lives. It is a superb course, not only because of the content, but also because of Claudia’s unique teaching skills. Although the topic of the course is very different from the courses I teach for the Spanish Department, I am learning lessons from it that I have already begun to implement in my own classes.

Alan Mikhail, History

Spring 2021

Courses in Dutch

A semester of TRL helped me to chart how I could make a more ambitious project a reality. It was so luxurious to have the space to steep myself in language training and a new scholarly literature.

Douglas Rogers, Anthropology

Spring 2021

Courses in Biology and Geology

The TRL semester … solved a problem I had encountered in this new research project. Standard triennial leaves are scarce and valuable, and it was hard for me to justify dedicating one of those to just taking basic science classes—I need those semesters away from Yale responsibilities for more intensive archival and interview research. But with the TRL program, I was able to learn some science while still staying engaged with most of my other duties around Yale, and save my next triennial leave to dedicate to fieldwork and writing.

Sybil Alexandrov, Spanish and Portuguese

Fall 2020
Courses in History
I enjoyed sharing the experience with Yale’s bright undergraduates and listened carefully  to their thoughtful questions and insightful comments. The Teaching Relief for Learning is a wonderful opportunity to explore new topics and to get to know colleagues outside one’s own field.

Aaron Dollar, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Computer Science

Fall 2020
Courses in Ecology

It is challenging to find the time to “retrain” when you are at the peak of your career, and relief from teaching provided that opportunity and at just the right time.

Jessica Brantley, English

Spring 2020
Courses in Musicology, History, Book History, and Theology

I am very grateful that, like an undergraduate, I could make a decision to follow interests and lines of thought that I hadn’t even had when I applied— like them, I could luxuriate in the richness of the Yale course catalogue.  It feels like an enormous privilege.

Marion Gehlker, German

Spring 2020
Courses in Environmental History, Economics, and Politics
Teaching Relief for Learning [enabled me] to broaden my knowledge scope on environmental issues in a global context for my advanced language class.

Ruth Yeazell, English

Spring 2020
Courses in Literature, Philosophy, and History
I […] relished the chance to read and talk about major works in philosophy, history, and political theory without worrying about what I might do with them professionally–to encounter them not as a teacher or scholar, in other words, but simply as a student.

Costas Arkolakis, Economics

Fall 2019
Courses in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Economics

I […] had the chance to solve a problem for my research that I couldn’t solve earlier by delving into some of the class material, which I wouldn’t have the chance to know unless taking this class.

Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Anthropology

Spring 2019
Courses in Political Science, Statistics and Data Science
I knew that two of the courses that I regularly teach would benefit from extending my training on these topics.  My own grant writing and research would also benefit from being more prepared on these topics.

Katie Trumpener, Comparative Literature and English

Spring 2019
Courses in Yiddish and History of Art
The TRL semester reanimated my long-forgotten teenage aspiration to learn several languages simultaneously, and has had very concrete payoffs for my work, since a much broader range of texts is newly available!

Shiri Goren, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Fall 2018
Courses in Film and Media Studies and Art History

It has been a terrific semester - I enjoyed it tremendously and gained a lot, intellectually and professionally.

Philip Gorski, Sociology

Fall 2018
Courses in the School of the Environment and Statistics and Data Science

As the pace of knowledge creation continues to accelerate, it is important the researchers have the opportunity to learn new skills and explore new fields, just as their colleagues in business and the professions do.

John Durham Peters, English and Film and Media Studies

Fall 2018
Courses in Latin, Mathematics, and Formal Analysis

[I]t was a wonderful opportunity, and one that made me feel appreciated and valued by and loyal to Yale.

Evangelia Chalioti, Economics

Spring 2020
Courses in Management, Computer Science, and Economics

Supriya Gandhi, Religious Studies

Spring 2020
Courses in History

Jack Harris, Physics

Spring 2020
Courses in Mathematics and Logic

Jill Campbell, English

Fall 2019
Courses in Book History, Ethnobotany, and Musicology

Fabian Drixler, History

Fall 2019
Courses in Statistics and Computer Science

Laura Wexler, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Fall 2018
Courses in Computer Science