Farhang has extensive experience of supporting students and plays a key role in welcoming students to Westminster each September.
What’s the best thing about being course leader for the International Relations and Development BA?
There is actually quite a lot of excitement and the expectation of leading a journey for our new students who will be joining us in 2016. Being involved with students from a range of different economic, political and cultural backgrounds is exciting. It is delightful to support our new students as they make their journey. Being appreciated and acknowledged by students is also rewarding. And I’ve had the pleasure of leading and helping the development of a new curriculum which includes theories, policies and practices for understanding in development studies. More crucially, it is a real honour to lead by example and share our successes with students and my colleagues.
Why do you think the International Relations and Development BA has done so well in the 2016 National Student Survey?
There has been a gradual change of culture from a reactive to a proactive approach in higher education and I think Westminster has been leading the sector in supporting students in their transition to university. We ensure we are patient, give our time and always listen to our students.
When students join us our focus is on developing, building and consolidating our working relationship. We aim to make all students feel special in their learning environment and we do this by congratulating our students when they achieve. Every success is shared with students and amongst the lecturers in the department.
We lead by example and we do this by ensuring a personal approach. Students will meet their personal tutors regularly and we want to know when things are working and how we can help when things don’t go to plan. As course leaders, we always aim to build a community of students and staff within the department. We use social media (especially Facebook), encouraging students to support each other.
We often ask our students for feedback on their time here and this helps us to improve.
What made you want to get involved in teaching in higher education?
Firstly, I had a passion for learning and understood the importance of sharing knowledge. As a lecturer, I want students to think about the ‘big ideas’ and put them into practice. I really enjoy witnessing the progress and development of students. Having the opportunity to inspire, encourage and support students who will then go on to shape their world is important and it contributes towards personal growth.
What are your biggest successes?
There have been so many successes over the years and students are really at the centre of these. I think we have succeeded in building a real sense of community and supporting students has been key to achieving this.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with ideas and students is the best bit of my job. This is reflected in the chance to shape and develop the curriculum. You do so many different things each day and each week. Students look to us for advice and it is always fun to be involved in learning and teaching. Teaching is not just a job, but it is my life and I would not change it for the world.
How does your research inform your teaching (and vice versa)?
I think research helps us (and our students) conceptually and theoretically to understand the world better. Research helps us to move from theory into practice and vice versa. In terms of teaching, the fact that academics are also researchers helps us to include the latest debates, discussions and empirical materials in our modules.
What do you love about working at the University of Westminster?
I think it would have to be working with diverse students and every student brings different talents and skills to the table. I have worked in higher education for 25 years and I am of the opinion that we have some of the most committed colleagues who understand the identity of our students. The University of Westminster is about opportunity and this is reflected in everything we do. We are outward facing as a university and the world is out there for both our students and graduates.