Chris McDonald shares decades of experience

Paul Watson, Lamp staff

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Like most professors, McDonald’s speaking engagements are limited. His full-time job is teaching introductory political science classes.

“It’s brilliant!” comes to mind when McDonald thinks about how rewarding introductory political science classes are.

“It’s also incredibly annoying, infuriating and about the most rewarding thing I can think of,” he adds.  Especially, when a class of students begin to think about an issue.

He says former students contact him by email or on Facebook to say, “Hi, I took your class in 1998 and I still remember……”

They also update him about “all the cool things they are doing,” he said. “That’s pretty difficult to beat.”

Even though community college students are sometimes stereotyped, McDonald said, LLCC has had, and will always have, students as good as anywhere.  “Many go on to do great things,” he added.

McDonald has two favorite classes.

“I love the international politics class and running the Model UN team,” he said.  He also thinks they are “real eye-openers for his students.”

He reserves most of his passion for political theory class.  “It sparks great discussion,” he said, “makes students think in new ways.  I love seeing them wrestle with ideas and work through things they haven’t thought about before.”

American government class, he said, “is one of the most important given the context in which we live. If I can’t do math, two plus two will still equal four, but if I am unaware of my rights, or how the system operates, then it will change on the basis of that ignorance and not in ways that will necessarily be in my interest. Democracies require informed citizens.”

Gordon Davis, who graduated LLCC last year, said he had Prof. McDonald for International Relations and Model United Nations classes. “As a professor, I found Prof. McDonald to be engaging, thoughtful, incredibly informative, and caring,” Davis said. “Lincoln Land Community College couldn’t wish for a better professor.”

After gaining experience with teaching and research while earning a master’s degree and doctorate in political science and government at the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1993 and 1998, respectively, McDonald realized what he liked best.

“I figured out pretty early on that, although I liked research,” he said, “I didn’t want to be in the research rat-race, but I enjoyed teaching and thought it was something I was reasonably competent at, so I applied for mainly teaching jobs at liberal arts schools and community colleges.”

McDonald said the community college mission of serving non-traditional students is very important.  When LLCC offered him a job, he said, “I was really happy.”

He thought he would leave after a few years.

“I guess 20 years later,” he said, “that’s less likely.”

After two decades, McDonald still believes in the mission of the community college.

“LLCC has a superb group of faculty,” he says.  “I really don’t think people realize how good many of my colleagues are at what they do.”  Even though he thinks they are often taken for granted, he says, “I love being part of that group.”

McDonald earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations and strategic studies from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom in 1991.  He said one of his professors urged him to apply to the UGA for graduate studies.  McDonald said he applied “to keep him from nagging me.”

“As it happens,” he said, “I am very glad I did.”  UGA offered him an assistantship, while the UK universities did not.  He said it was “a bit of a mercenary decision really, but one which now, 28 years later, I am glad I made.”

Paul Watson can be reached at [email protected]

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Chris McDonald shares decades of experience