Tag Article List: global challenges

What We Owe Our Students: The Good Place, Pedagogy, and the Architecture of Engaged Learning 

Shala Mills
State University of New York at New Paltz
New Paltz, New York, USA

Darrell Hamlin
Fort Hays State University
Hays, Kansas, USA


Pedagogy is the architecture of a learning environment. The discipline of philosophy has often operated according to a pedagogy of conversation, clarity, and reflection, certainly since the era of Socratic dialogue in the streets of Athens. We argue that The Good Place occupies that space, re-setting this pedagogy as an architecture of learning through entertainment associated with ultimate matters of eternal disposition. A critical character driving conversation, clarity, and reflection across four seasons of the story’s arc is a philosopher – doomed by their own indecisive flaws – who teaches deep understanding of ethical development through a variety of relevant philosophic problems originating from intellectual history. Confronted with the complexities of an intricately connected world and highly motivated by the weight of ultimate choices, the protagonists bring a sense of how a well-constructed “classroom” can prepare students to meet ordinary challenges, extraordinary obstacles, and even existential crises. The Good Place is a classroom with a purposeful syllabus and highly motivated participants, structured for viewers to extract ethical insights of the highest consequence — if they are willing to keep trying to get it right. By comparison, this article unpacks how the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Global Challenges blended model course is a valuable example of high impact teaching practices which, like The Good Place, engage students through content connected to issues that confront them personally and professionally, providing them with opportunities for repetition and mastery.

Keywords: pedagogy, popular culture, wicked problems, Bloom’s taxonomy, high impact practices, global challenges, The Good Place

Author Bios

Shala Mills, Associate Provost for Academic Planning & Learning Innovation at State University of New York at New Paltz, was formerly Chair and Professor of Political Science at Fort Hays State University (Kansas).  She is the recipient of numerous teaching and advising awards. She has taught courses in the areas of law and the courts, current political issues, sustainability, food and politics, and global challenges. She served as one of the AASCU Global Engagement Scholars, was the National Coordinator for the AASCU Global Challenges Project, and was the 2017 recipient of AASCU’s Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement.  Her most recent publications have been in the areas of academic assessment and leadership and global challenges.

Darrell Hamlin, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fort Hays State University (Kansas), is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Civic Leadership at FHSU and Managing Editor for the eJournal of Public Affairs.  He previously served as Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at FHSU and as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Spring Hill College (Alabama). Hamlin was one of the original AASCU Global Engagement Scholars, and his scholarly interests relate to the culture and politics of democracy.

Suggested Reference


Mills, S., & Hamlin, D. (2021). What we owe our students: The Good Place, pedagogy, and the architecture of engaged learning. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 8(2). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v8-issue-2/what-we-owe-our-students-the-good-place-pedagogy-and-the-architecture-of-engaged-learning/


Mills, Shala, and Darrell Hamlin. “What We Owe Our Students: The Good Place, Pedagogy, and the Architecture of Engaged Learning.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 8, no. 2, 2021, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v8-issue-2/what-we-owe-our-students-the-good-place-pedagogy-and-the-architecture-of-engaged-learning/

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