Faculty Profile: Becca McBride

Professor Becca McBride: Political Science

CREDENTIALS: PhD in political science, Vanderbilt University; MA in Russian, Eurasian and East European studies, Georgetown University

RESEARCH INTERESTS: Ethnic conflict and terrorism

CLAIM TO FAME: Reigning Disney Cruise Line “Disney Trivia” champion

HIDDEN TALENT: Clogging

Walk into Professor Becca McBride’s office and one of the first things you’ll notice is a Disney Trivia trophy on display. Then you’ll notice all the books about war, terrorism and peace studies, mostly from her graduate studies at Georgetown and Vanderbilt.

Professor McBride, who teaches political science and international relations classes at Calvin, is glad to be in a place where both her passions—international relations and Disney—can coexist.

“I am finally at a place that rewards creativity and innovative thinking. Calvin is quite unique as an academic institution in this way. I try to add fun things to my classes to show that you can be different, and have passions that others might think are a little unconventional, and still be legitimate!”

Disney: From family escape to research obsession

While in grad school, Prof. McBride took her family on vacations to Disneyworld, where they could get away from normal life. But as a scholar who is always curious about the world, she decided to do her own research about Disney on the side.

“It was initially just an escape from a demanding graduate program. Over time, however, I started to see parallels with my [other] research.”

Now, in the “Disney, Culture and Progress” class she is teaching during Calvin’s 2015 January interim, Prof. McBride has a chance to combine both her research obsession and her cultural interests. The class will study Walt Disney's Americanized view of progress—often referred to as the American Dream—and travel to Florida to see how it’s presented at the theme park. Then, they’ll compare that approach to the ways other cultures define progress.

A teacher and encourager

The encouragement that Calvin gave her to explore her passions is exactly the sort of thing Prof. McBride hopes to provide for her students.

“I have a passion for teaching. ...I hope my own students can see how I care about them as individuals, and try to teach in a way that captures their imagination.

“I want them to see me as a person who has been exactly where they are. I want them to see God in my journey, because I want them to learn to see God in their journeys.”

VERGE: fall 2014

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