Students always smile when they say Professor Kristen Swann’s name, notes a colleague. That’s because, by widely shared sentiment, Professor Swann is funny, warm, generous and exceptionally skilled at teaching Italian language and culture.
One of her guiding principles is that learning should be pleasurable. A good many American students think of second-language learning as distinctly unpleasurable, so it is a testament to Professor Swann that her classroom is a fun and exciting place where she connects student interests with activities and builds community. “Innovative” and “relevant” are words used by both colleagues and students to describe her teaching.
In both courses across the curriculum and in courses she’s developed from her research, which include “Mama Mia! Italian Motherhood” and an Italian fashion course, Professor Swann has attracted students to the Italian program through her fine reputation. Blending rigor with encouragement, for the past 10 years she has tirelessly taught and mentored a wide array of UNH students, including many who have decided to pursue Italian studies as a major, minor or in graduate school as a result of their encounters with her. And many have been inspired to study abroad in Italy, relying on Professor Swann for advice.
“Without her guidance and support, I would not have had the best summer of my life,” says one student who studied in Italy, adding, “Professor Swann is the best professor I have had at UNH. She gave me the support I did not know I needed.”