Luke Campbell Classroom

During a class discussion in social justice, associate professor Luke Campbell calls on a student to speak about their experience with religion. As soon as Campbell entered the room, students excitedly engaged in conversation with him.

From a classroom, the excited voice of a professor fills the air with discussions of government, politics and theories. He talks passionately, hands gesturing wildly to make his point as students take notes around him.

Associate Professor of Political Science Luke Campbell teaches seven classes in Valk Center, primarily focusing on upper division political theory and political thought.

“I fell in love with politics and the study of politics when I was an undergraduate,” Campbell said. “I love the challenge, and I loved the way of thinking that is necessary to study politics in a particular way.”

To start his teaching career, Campbell had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in graduate school. He was responsible for teaching his own sections of different classes. Campbell's main approach is instructing in a way that aims to have students learn how to think for themselves. Oftentimes, this includes open discussions, lectures and group activities.

“It was terrifying at first,” Campbell said. “But I loved challenging students, helping students see things in a different way, giving them a completely different view of the world than they had before.” 

While lecturing, Campbell stresses his desire to remain unbiased so students don’t know his personal opinions on political matters. This allows him to instruct in a way that gives equal emphasis to both sides of an issue.

In politics, professors can take multiple angles when teaching. Campbell knows how he chooses to instruct his students can greatly affect how they perceive different topics.

“I really am incredibly intentional about making students grapple with both or multiple different perspectives at the same time,” Campbell said. “I want students to realize that many different things, even contradictory things, can be true at the same time.”

Junior Jillian McNamara has known Campbell since she took an Introduction to Political Theory course with him her sophomore year. She has been a student instructor for him since the spring semester of 2022.

McNamara loves how engaging Campbell’s classes are. When listening to him lecture, she knows that he is engaged with the material and with students. Throughout class, he constantly invites students to interact and ask questions.

Even students who do not come into the department their freshman year have been influenced by Campbell. Transfer student and senior Daisie Cruse has had Campbell as her adviser since summer 2021.

Cruse applauds his ability to engage students by applying the material to their lives and making them think about it more in depth than they would by memorizing dates.

“It’s always questions, when he approaches things, he always questions things first,” Cruse said. “He’s very on point. With other teachers, we talk about more facts, and he’s more of a theory teacher.”

McNamara said Campbell is passionate about the material he teaches. In his classes, she knows he is always attentive and will encourage students to talk and participate in discussions.

“He has a very similar energy to me when I talk about the things that I care about,” McNamara said. “I see myself in the way that he teaches, so I really connect with it.”

Campbell said one of his favorite parts of teaching at Northwest is the academic freedom. He has enjoyed the challenge and rewards that come without having someone looking over his shoulder to see what he’s teaching and how he runs his class.

Though he only teaches it once every few years, Campbell’s favorite class gives an overview of terrorism and gives emphasis on government action and policies aimed to prevent attacks. 

At the beginning of the class, students are asked to choose a terrorist group to analyze. Campbell said he has them essentially become part of the group to learn how they operate. He helps students look at different perspectives of the organization such as who they target and what they are attempting to accomplish in order to counter terrorism. Several students enjoy taking this class with Campbell and particularly enjoy his approach to the topic. 

“He’s commented that (Terrorism is) his favorite class, and I just learned a lot of new information,” McNamara said. “I always learn new stuff in his class, but I think just taking a professor’s favorite class kind of makes it your favorite class.”

Teaching about politics all day, five days a week, can become draining. To combat this, Campbell has a support system at home consisting of his wife and two sons.

He enjoys quality time with his sons participating in activities such as mountain biking with his eight-year-old. He said his wife provides him with the ability to completely step away from thinking about politics.

“She understands how important this job is to me, she understands how much I love teaching, but she doesn’t always want to talk about politics or this kind of stuff,” Campbell said. “It provides just a much different kind of outlet for me to actually sort of physically, mentally, step away.”

Since 2016 when he joined Northwest, Campbell said he has been challenged and learned a lot. He is still learning who he is academically and expects to grow even more through continued participation in scholarly articles and the obstacles presented through teaching.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the years that I’ve spent here, I thoroughly enjoy my colleagues and the different challenges that are presented to me as a teacher and a scholar from the leadership and examples of my colleagues, that’s been wonderful,” Campbell said.

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