Best professor: Melani McAlister

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

Melani McAlister, a professor of American studies, has spent more than 20 years teaching her students about the global context of the United States.

Readers’ pick: Tara Scully

Melani McAlister, a professor of American studies and international affairs, has spent more than 20 years teaching her students about the global context of the United States.

McAlister is loved by students across the American studies department for her courses like U.S. in a Global Context – which examines the global engagement of the United States – or U.S. Media and Cultural History. This semester, McAlister is also teaching a course called the Politics of “Saving Africa,” which examines U.S.-African relations.

Before joining the University staff in 1996, McAlister spent her post-graduate years living in Cairo, Egypt and working for a peace group called Mobilization for Survival in Boston – which taught various religious groups about issues in the Middle East.

She has also written two books, “Epic Encounters,” which discusses the effects of U.S. culture and media in the Middle East, and “The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals,” which focuses on evangelicalism outside of the United States.

While McAlister is passionate about teaching and learning, she said she is also invested in ensuring her students form meaningful relationships with her and one another. She said she is often inspired by her students’ enthusiasm for social justice issues and that she is constantly learning lessons from them.

“My students are very invested in social justice of all sorts and they care about doing good in the world,” McAlister said. “I see women who are far less concerned about how to dress and how to have relationships and instead concerned that their careers will be taken seriously and that they are safe on campus.”

Outside the classroom, McAlister can be found doing yoga, reading science fiction with her three cats at home or dining at Ethiopic, an Ethiopian restaurant in Northeast D.C.

Even if you aren’t majoring or minoring in American studies, McAlister’s deep knowledge of and passion for the topics she teaches will make any of her courses enjoyable.

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