In teaching courses on comparative politics, the political economy of development, and the politics of the Middle East, I have the opportunity to tackle some of the most important questions in social science with my students. How do we define democracy, and why do countries democratize? How do political institutions affect economic growth and inequality within societies? Do natural resources help or hurt otherwise poor countries? What produces violent conflict? Why are some conflicts frozen for so long? As a teacher, my primary challenge is to make my students as excited about these questions as I am. To do so, I create learning environments which are based on the principles of mutual respect and rigor.