Faculty Spotlight: Interview with Dr. PJ Nelsen

Q: What is your current job title (associate professor/professor/etc)?

A: I am a Professor.


Q: What is your current department?

A: Leadership and Educational Studies.


Q: How long have you been teaching at Appalachian State University?

 A: I have been here since 2007.


Q: What course(s) do you teach for the Doctoral Program?

A: The Art of Collaborative Leadership.


Q: What are your current research interests/projects/grants?

A: As part of larger body of work centered on ethics and social justice from the frame of nonviolence, I am reconceptualizing fundamental human needs through Deweyan pragmatism. Related to this, I am also writing a text for undergraduates on how to engage in discussions about difficult topics associated with equity and power through the resources of nonviolence, mindfulness, and Nonviolent Communication (NVC.) Finally, in collaboration with a colleague, I writing a series of articles on the research of Nonviolent Communication (NVC.)


Q: What’s your favorite thing about Appalachian State University?

A: The students!


Q: What advice do you have for doctoral students?

A: I recognize that many doc students are experiencing great pressure because they are balancing family, work, and doctoral studies. Of course all of this is happening amidst a global pandemic and much political and economic strife, so I encourage doc students to find ways to support themselves by making space (in already jammed schedules) for slowing down. I find that taking time to rest, connect with family and friends, and to listen to ourselves with deep empathy is essential to sustaining healthily through the program and beyond.


Q: What are some of your main goals as an instructor related to student learning?

A: I want to take time both to listen to and understand my students, their questions, and their needs so that I can match my instruction and course design to support them in healthy ways.


Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: "With one hand we say to one who is angry, or to an oppressor, or to an unjust system, 'Stop what you are doing. I refuse to honor the role you are choosing to play. I refuse to obey you. I refuse to cooperate with your demands. I refuse to build the walls and the bombs. I refuse to pay for the guns. With this hand I will even interfere with the wrong you are doing. I want to disrupt the easy pattern of your life.' [And] then the advocate of nonviolence raises the other hand. It is raised outstretched—maybe with love and sympathy—maybe not—but always outstretched… With this hand we say, 'I won’t let go of you or cast you out of the human race. I have faith that you can make a better choice [than] you are making now, and I’ll be here when you are ready. Like it or not, we are part of one another.'" - Barbara Deming

Published: Mar 28, 2023 12:25pm