Chief Academic Officer Howard striving to enhance academic quality

Photo: portrait of Dr. Alix Howard

Dr. Alistair Howard, who is on the faculty of Temple University, joined Temple’s Japan Campus (TUJ) in June 2015, and serves both as a senior administrator and a faculty member in political science. As Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, he is the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) and so is responsible for the quality of TUJ’s faculty, teaching, and curriculum. His primary goal is to ensure students are learning, and to that end he hopes to promote a sense of academic community where excellence is cultivated and rewarded. His priority during the first six months, he says, “has been to listen to students and faculty talk about their hopes and goals, about what works, and about areas for possible improvement.”

Dr. Howard brings broad academic experience to the job. Two of his areas of expertise are especially relevant. First, he has done considerable work on effective teaching in higher education, and he is excited to build on TUJ’s decades of success with students from around the world. “More than ever,” he says, “today’s students range widely in age, experience, nationality, and needs. It’s essential that we adapt our teaching styles and class assignments to serve them well.” Second, he has administrative experience in the ‘assessment of student learning.’ This involves mapping what we want students to learn across the undergraduate curriculum, and then finding ways to evaluate whether they’re actually learning those things. Because it goes beyond grading in particular courses, this kind of assessment enables faculty and students to see where we’re successful, and where we may want to make changes.

Introducing New Programs and Courses to the Curriculum

As for academic initiatives, Dr. Howard would like to make several additions to the curriculum. First, he wants to offer more science, mathematics, and engineering courses. This will require further cooperation with Temple University’s Main Campus and perhaps also partnerships with nearby Japanese universities. Second, he will promote ‘writing across the curriculum’ to ensure that students see their writing skills improve from the foundational first year writing courses to their final year capstone courses in their academic discipline. This means faculty will work together to design and implement writing assignments that develop skills over years. And finally, he wants to offer honors courses for our highest achieving students.

He is also promoting new programs that enable students to specialize in cross-disciplinary areas of interest, earning a certificate that will appear on their undergraduate transcript alongside their major field. This fall, for example, he introduced the “Political Economy Certificate” which is a joint program offered by the Political Science and Economics departments. Political Economy is a cross-disciplinary field of study concerned with the way markets and governments function in the real world, addressing crucial questions of globalization, development, inequality, growth, and governance. The program is open to all matriculated undergraduate students and, as Dr. Howard explains, is “an opportunity to study with some of TUJ’s best, research-active faculty at a time of great economic change.”

Bridging Main Campus Experiences and the Japan Campus

Prior to joining TUJ, Dr. Howard taught for fifteen years at Temple’s Main Campus in the Political Science Department. After finishing his dissertation at George Washington University, he became an Assistant Professor in 2005 at Temple University, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011. From January 2014 he received several administrative appointments including the Director of Assessment for Temple’s College of Liberal Arts, and the Undergraduate Adviser & Internship Coordinator for the Political Science Department. He also served on a number of committees at Temple, mostly reflecting his interest in university administration for internationalization and student-centered teaching.

He teaches political economy, comparative politics, political ideology, and public policy. His research interests include the politics of capitalism in liberal market economies, chiefly Great Britain and the United States, and the politics of international comparative argument.

Dr. Howard has also taught graduate courses in public administration at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, Global Business Regulation for the International MBA program at the Temple’s Fox School of Business, and a course on Capitalism, Ideas and the American State for Temple’s Masters of Liberal Arts Program.

Born in the U.K. and…

Originally born in England, Dr. Howard is a U.S./U.K. dual national and has lived in various places in Britain and America. After high school in England, he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Hertford College, Oxford, where he dabbled in political activism. Returning to the U.S., he joined Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Washington Office in 1991, analyzing American policy and regulatory developments affecting the electricity industry and nuclear power. This work stimulated a long-standing interest in Japan, and more generally how organizations learn from foreign experience. He has two children, a high schooler and a TUJ student. When at home in Glenside, PA, he spends many hours working on his 100-year-old suburban house and ensuring his five chickens, dog, and cat are happy and healthy. He cycles, attempts wood-working, and enjoys music of various genres.