By Taylor Hill
English Department Chairperson and Professor Dr. John Lutz brings an honest perspective to his courses through his teaching philosophy and activities. Dr. Lutz is a Long Island native who also happens to be a Post alumnus. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in English at Post and went on to receive his PhD in Comparative English at Stony Brook University. As chairperson of the English department, Dr. Lutz helps develop the curriculum, and is a guiding hand to students.
Dr. Lutz and the English department are offering many new courses for students this semester. He began teaching a course on democracy and Athens. The course gives students a chance to react to the fifth century Athens by assigning students roles of individuals who lived during the time, and have them form an assembly. This assembly will then tackle issues from that time period through engagement and acting; “role emerging,” is the term Lutz uses to describe the course. It offers a combination of history and philosophy.
In teaching this course, Lutz encourages students to apply human nature and empathy to themselves and those around them. He desires them to be able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and adopt other perspectives. The course is currently open to Honors College students looking for electives. Lutz hopes if and when the class is successful to open it to all students.
Lutz’s classroom style is different from other professors, according to himself. He brings a sense of comfort to his classroom setting. He is very eager about the fact he does not teach his courses in the traditional setting of rows. He alters the room to be set up in a circle to unite students and encourage interaction, describing the setting as less authoritative and more communal. This allows for meaning and a personal connection to the subject.
This setting breaks students off the barriers and shines light on their potential to grow. In addition to this teaching philosophy, Lutz is big on discussion-based lectures. “I am not fond of a lot of lecture. I want students to feel encouraged to start conversation and I can just facilitate when needed,” he said.
Besides teaching the course on democracy and Athens, Dr. Lutz teaches one of the first-year seminars to new students. The first year seminar took on the series “Breaking Bad” and connecting it to characters in literature that “break bad.”
It takes on ethics and literature as the class is currently discussing Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth.” Lutz is the co-director of Post 101, which is the required orientation class for freshmen. In teaching these courses, Lutz is highly satisfied when students are involved and willing to ask questions.
In addition to the new courses on campus, Lutz is working on new projects. He is involved with the learning communities, which link three-credit courses and disciplines together. Dr. Lutz is always looking to improve the core curriculum to help students connect to their personal degrees.