Dr Roland Burke
Lecturer for the School of Historical and European StudiesSince starting at La Trobe in 2009, Dr Roland Burke has established two extremely popular humanities courses: Anarchists, Terrorists, and Freedom Fighters and South Africa: Apartheid, Reconciliation, and Beyond. Through a teaching style that encourages student involvement at every stage, Roland creates a comfortable learning environment where students can grapple with complicated issues.
With relatively large class sizes in these popular courses, Roland makes an extra effort to ensure lectures and tutorials involve all students. His presentations rely heavily on images from police and the media, as well as embedded documentary video and references to popular culture. In Anarchists, Terrorists, and Freedom Fighters, Roland says the use of primary texts such as terrorist manifestos and rationales is particularly interesting to his students.
Rather than simply presenting a series of facts, Roland regularly encourages his students to share their opinions on each historical event. He challenges students with questions on subjects such as the definition of terrorism, whether violent means are ever justified, the contexts in which violence emerges, and the importance of empathy with the victims of political terror.
What Roland enjoys most is seeing students place themselves at historical ‘pivot points’ and consider what their own decisions might have been given the same circumstances. Students clearly appreciate this approach, and have consistently given extremely positive feedback on Roland’s courses.
Roland was awarded the 2008 Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence for his doctoral thesis, which was completed at Melbourne University in 2007. More recently, he has been researching transnational organisations such as the UN and the Group of 77.