In his course “Law in American Society,” an animation of folk singer Willie Nelson, designed by Dr. Samuel D. Hodge, strums his guitar as he explains the difference between public and private law.
Professor of Legal Studies at the Fox School of Business, Hodge’s use of such animations demonstrates his place as an innovative educator. Hodge recently was chosen by the Academy for Teachers to serve as its 2016 master teacher and will lead a program on innovation in teaching.
The Academy for Teachers is an annual selective conference in New York City that’s intended for teachers. One master professor, as chosen by the Academy, leads a lesson for a number of selected high school teachers on innovative strategies in teaching. Previous master teachers include Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Pulitzer Prize in Music winner David Lang; and renowned social and political activist Gloria Steinem.
This year, Hodge will teach 18 high school teachers Jan. 8, 2016, at the one-day conference.
Hodge has taught a variety of undergraduate- and graduate-level classes in law and medicine at Temple University for more than 40 years. He currently leads a law lecture that consists of 400 to 600 students, which is considered one of the largest courses at Temple. To keep students interested in a class of that size, Hodge has had to get creative.
“You have to throw conventional wisdom out the window,” Hodge said.
Hodge developed multimedia presentations for his courses, consisting of self-created animations.
“Everything moves. Everything I say projects behind me on the board,” Hodge said, “but I actually have a cartoon Professor Sam, and he sings and narrates.”
The animations include a long list of celebrities. His latest is actor Jack Nicholson discussing various areas in law. Hodge has an art and music background. Since 1982, he has owned music-publishing company Eastwick Publishing, and he’s also produced illustrations for various medical books he’s written. So it was fitting, he said, that for his educational animations he’d write the songs, record the audio, and then create an animated character to perform them.
The best way to gain the interest of the “MTV generation,” he said, was through an audio-visual format.
“I call it edutainment,” Hodge said. “It is a combination of education and entertainment. People grew up in a visual format, so people want to be taught in that format.”
From a nominated group of 6,000, the Academy for Teachers selected 18 high school teachers that Hodge will educate. The “master class” can be given in any subject matter. The focus is to showcase unusual or innovative teaching techniques. Hodge will teach anatomy to the group of teachers in his area of expertise: AV format.
On the morning of the program, Hodge will teach the fundamentals of anatomy through song at the Museum of Natural History. He also plans to show the dozen-and-a-half teachers video of a heart being dissected. During the second segment of the day, the group will travel to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he will take them into the lab to see a dissection first hand.
Joe Pangaro, a second-year teaching assistant in Hodge’s “Law and American Society” course and “Legal Environment of Business” courses, said Hodge’s passion for teaching is present daily.
“Every year, when a new set of TAs gets to know him and gets exposed to his workload, there is a period of shock when you are just in awe of how much he accomplishes in a day,” said Pangaro, a third-year law student. “When you find out he does not drink coffee, it seems all the more amazing, but then you spend some time with him and you realize it’s because he truly loves everything he is doing.”
Hodge hopes to impart to the high school educators a degree of fearlessness in their use of technology to demonstrate complex topics.
“This was a total surprise,” he said. “I didn’t apply for it, they just called me out of the blue one day. Then I saw the list of people who have been selected before me and I said, ‘Why am I within that elite group?’ But I am, and it’s exciting.”
Dr. Samuel D. Hodge prides himself in using unconventional methods, like animated, voiced-over videos, to instruct his students.
Recently Hodge, Chair of the Legal Studies department at the Fox School of Business, turned to web-conferencing platform WebEx to bridge the geographic gap between his Business Law students at Temple University and a prominent guest speaker.
CNN Chief Product Officer Alex Wellen virtually addressed Hodge’s students from New York City during a March 31 class session.
As a guest speaker in Hodge’s course, Wellen discussed creative career paths for those with a law degree. Wellen, LAW ’97, served as a teaching assistant under Hodge while pursuing his graduate degree at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
“A law degree teaches you how to think outside of the box. Alex is a classic example of that principle,” Hodge said. “I wanted to show students that having a law degree can be a stepping stone for a number of career paths outside of practicing traditional law.”
Before joining CNN, Wellen produced and co-hosted an Emmy Award-winning television series, Cybercrime, which aired on TechTV. Cybercrime was the first investigative TV series devoted to covering high-tech crime. Wellen told students that, in his youth, he was fascinated by the thought of inventing new products. His childhood passion is now a reality, he said. In his current role, Wellen develops new products for CNN’s mobile, web, video, TV, data and emerging platforms and oversees the global business operations for CNN’s digital platforms.
“It’s important to analyze how people are getting news now and how they will retrieve it in the future,” Wellen told Hodge’s class. “It’s my job to figure all of that out and understand how we can make a business out of it and create good journalism.”
CNN is widely regarded as one of the top cable news networks, responsible for delivering breaking news from across the globe. Thusly, students asked Wellen questions relating to the importance of being first to break a story. Social media, Wellen said, has changed the game, in regard to how quickly people expect to receive news.
“It’s more important to be right than be first,” said Wellen. “Social media allows us to connect with people from across the planet and receive news from first hand witnesses. So it’s extremely important to confirm details before we release information, just like in law.”
Wellen challenged Hodge’s students to view a law degree in a creative way. When starting out in the industry, Wellen said he hadn’t considered a career in journalism.
“You never know who you will meet along your professional journey that will help you get in the door,” Wellen said. “I’ve had great champions in my life that have opened my mind up and taught me how to look at my life untraditionally and to always be open to new experiences.”
Somewhat like Hodge’s innovative methods for bringing elite guest speakers to his students in a Philadelphia classroom.
For the first time, Temple University’s Fox School of Business will offer a Mini MBA certificate program for law professionals.
The accelerated weekend program, offered in partnership with Temple’s Beasley School of Law, is designed to equip working attorneys and recent law school graduates with the business acumen that’s most relevant and necessary to today’s legal environment, without disrupting their professional careers.
The Mini MBA is a 10-course offering that begins Friday, April 24, and runs through Sunday, April 26, at Temple University’s Shusterman Hall (campus map). The Mini-MBA provides 21 hours of classroom instruction, and 18 credits in Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education (PA CLE).
“The Mini MBA is an exceptional addition to Fox’s executive education programs,” said Dr. Samuel D. Hodge, Professor and Chair of the Fox School’s Legal Studies department. “This program is unique because it is a joint enterprise between the Beasley School and Fox School, with top faculty from both teaching the courses.”
World-class faculty from the Beasley School of Law and Fox School’s Legal Studies, Finance, Marketing and Supply Chain Management, and Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management departments will lead courses that include:
- Accounting for Lawyers
- Legal Issues in the Workplace
- Drafting of Business Agreements
- Industrial Organization and Corporate Strategy
- Managing Risk
- Corporate Compliance
Each day of the program will begin with a breakfast leadership session. Friday, Temple University men’s basketball coach and Fox School adjunct professor Fran Dunphy will cover effective business leadership. President of Puma Legal Placement Lysa Puma will explore marketing strategies for lawyers during Saturday’s session. And Sunday, Rosemarie Greco, the former president of CoreStates Bank and Chair of VISION 2020, will discuss leadership practices.
“The relationship between law and business is becoming more intertwined every year,” said Duncan B. Hollis, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Beasley School. “We believe in equipping lawyers with the tools necessary for practicing in all contexts, and not just in traditional litigation settings. The Mini MBA offers lawyers the introduction they need to attain basic business skills, which can serve as a scaffolding upon which to build up real expertise in business law.”
The tuition cost of the Mini MBA program is $2,500, which includes materials and meals. Beasley School of Law alumni are eligible for a $500 tuition discount.
To pre-register, visit www.mytlawconnection.com/minimba15. Day-of registrants are welcome, as well, though spots are limited.