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My Favorite Professor

John Yoder

John Yoder
Professor of Political Science

John Yoder specializes in African politics, conflict resolution and political philosophy. A professor at Whitworth since 1980, he co-founded Whitworth's South Africa Jan Term Study Program, and he developed and led the Tanzania semesterlong program, which launched in 2012. During his tenure as Whitworth's Fulbright advisor, the university was a three-time top national producer of students who received Fulbright awards.

Yoder was honored in 2001 with a Fulbright Alumni Initiative Award to expand a conflict-resolution program that he had helped establish at Daystar University, in Kenya, and he was selected to serve as an election monitor in Liberia and Sierra Leone with the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute, respectively. He is also the author of the books Popular Political Culture, Civil Society, and State Crisis in Liberia and The Kanyok of Zaire: An Institutional and Ideological History to 1895. His three-year phased retirement from Whitworth concluded in May 2014.

"As a political science and international studies major, I took many classes from Dr. Yoder. One of my favorites was The Third World: Political Change. His passion for understanding the nuance of economic and political development was inspiring and has influenced me to this day, both in [the fact that I'm] always trying to understand more than just the surface of a current event, and in the application of that type of thinking in all aspects of my life. I also loved the class Marxism and the Socialist World, which required deep reading and thinking.

Whitworth Alumna: Molly (Griffith) Burger, '92

Molly BurgerB.A. in Political Science and International Studies; Minor in French

M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Austin Peay State University

Molly Burger is in her first year as the middle-school principal of Saigon South International School, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Previously, she was the principal of Middleton Middle School, in Idaho, for 10 years.

Dr. Yoder's amazing breadth of knowledge allowed him to teach a wide range of classes and link them together so that each class was built upon the previous one. He was also able to ensure students' success, whether it was their first class with him or their last. The other factor that made Dr. Yoder a great teacher was his practical experience. His work in the field brought authenticity to his classes (his work with the Carter Center is amazing!).

One of the reasons I selected Whitworth was its strong connection between faculty and students. Yoder exemplified this for me. He was always willing to listen first and then come up with a solution. He was encouraging, and he was able to get me, and other students, to achieve more without us even realizing he was doing it. He knew me well and suggested programs and extra activities and opportunities that would fit my plans and challenge me to think outside the box.

As an educator myself (first as a teacher and now as an administrator), I know that my time at Whitworth has informed my view about good teaching. It always comes back to knowing your students and being willing to put their needs first.

I remember studying with a group of students for a final for one of Dr. Yoder's classes. We got to talking and decided that the style of the final didn't match the style of the course. We gathered up our courage and went to Dr. Yoder to express our concerns and see what could be done. He could have just dismissed us as whiny college students who didn't want to study hard. Instead, he listened thoughtfully and asked what we thought would be a better assessment of what we had learned. When we explained what we had in mind, he nodded and said, 'Let's do it.'"


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