Meshack Owino: Faculty Spotlight

We are pleased to feature Dr. Meshack Owino as our May Faculty Spotlight!
Dr. Meshack Owino is an Associate Professor of History at Cleveland State University. As a professor at Cleveland State University, Dr. Owino primarily teaches courses on pre-colonial and modern Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, and Kenya.
OwinoDr. Owino earned his B.Ed. and M.A at Kenyatta University, Kenya, and another M.A. and Ph.D. at Rice University, Houston, Texas. He has taught African history at several universities, including Egerton University in Kenya, and Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He has served as a visiting professor of African history at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and as an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas.
Dr. Owino specializes in the social history of Kenya African soldiers in the Second World War. His research interests include the social experience of African soldiers in Kenya and Africa as a whole during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. He also has interests in the origins, nature, and implications of ethnic nationalism on modern African states.
Dr. Owino is an avid commentator on Kenya’s current affairs, and some of his commentaries have been published in leading Kenyan newspapers.
Courses taught at CSU:
Introduction to African history
History of Pre-colonial Africa to 1800*
Modern Africa*
South Africa since 1900*
(* = counts toward the SST major)
What are your primary academic research and teaching areas?
My teaching areas are African history––both pre-colonial and modern periods; East Africa; Southern Africa; South Africa; Kenya. My research area is on the social experience of African soldiers in World War II in particular, and in Africa in general.
How do you incorporate these interests into your social studies and/or history courses at CSU?
This really depends on many factors; nothing is cut in stone. The length of the semester; the amount of materials to be studied; the number of students in a particular class and their interests; and the general social, economic, and political issues dominating world attention at any time usually dictate what I teach in my courses. For the most part, I try to focus on themes and regions that any student taking an African history course is expected to be familiar with after taking the course. Where necessary and times allows, I will assign a book, or an article, and/or primary material in my research interests for students to examine, but I generally try to avoid using my research interests to dictate what I teach in class, and instead, I ask myself, what do students taking this course really need to know about, and how can they use the course materials to learn about the past and the world they live in today.
How do you use primary sources, off-campus resources, or technology in your courses?
First, I use power-points to present almost all my lectures to students. Power-points help me to systematize and structure my lectures, and also to capture and maintain students’ attention to my lectures. Second, I employ audio-visual materials such as videos in the classroom as well as on blackboard for students to watch and learn from. Third, I regularly direct students to visit various places of interest in Cleveland to learn about Africa, for example, food stores selling African materials and wares; restaurants selling African food; the Cleveland Museum of Arts to see traditional and modern African art, crafts, and archaeological materials; etc.
What is your favorite aspect of teaching at CSU?
Honestly, nothing is better than the experience of going to class, and meeting and interacting with my students at CSU. CSU is in many ways like my own alma mater and CSU students are in many ways like my own classmates when I was a full-time university student. Inquisitive, studious, serious, thoughtful, vibrant on intellectual matters and at the same time actively interested in the issues of the day in their communities, country, and the world as whole––reminding me of myself when I was a full-time university student.
What is the most important thing you learned in your teacher education program?
Learning never ends. It is a continuous process. You should always be prepared to learn about something new both in and out of the classroom.
What advice would you give a student interested in becoming a Social Studies teacher?
First, love your students. Second, always try to put yourself in the shoes of your students before making decisions that will affect their lives.
Thank you Dr. Owino!