Teaching

My primary teaching interests are Legislation, Administrative Law, Civil Procedure, and Evidence. My secondary teaching interests include Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Professional Ethics, and Jurisprudence. I'm also prepared to teach multiple seminars (click here for syllabi).

On this page, you can learn more about my approach to teaching and the courses that I've taught or will soon teach.  You can also find excerpts from my past teaching evaluations and download the full evaluations.

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Courses

Legal Research and Writing, Harvard Law School, Fall 2022 & Spring 2023

This course teaches the fundamental skills of researching and writing as a lawyer. Students learn these skills through readings, in-class discussion and exercises, one-on-one meetings with me, drafting memos and an appellate brief, and participating in an oral argument.

Introduction to Philosophy (assisting Shaun Nichols), Cornell University, Spring 2021

This course surveyed topics in philosophy, including knowledge and skepticism, the mind-body problem, the nature of the self, normative ethics, and free will and moral responsibility. Students encountered a breadth of material, ranging from traditional readings in philosophy to contemporary experimental work. I led a weekly discussion section and graded students' written work.

 

Moral Dilemmas in the Law (assisting Andrei Marmor), Cornell University, Fall 2019 & Fall 2020

This course applied ideas from moral philosophy to legal contexts. We considered questions like: When is the state justified in punishing offenders? When is self-defense justified? When is discrimination wrongful? What justifies the right to private property? And what is the right to privacy and why does it matter? Readings included both legal cases and philosophical commentary. I led a biweekly discussion section and graded students' written work.

 

Introduction to Ethics (assisting Julia Markovits), Cornell University, Spring 2020

This course introduced students to classic and contemporary work on ethics. We discussed issues in metaethics (the meaning of moral language and whether morality is, in any sense, objective), normative ethics (consequentialist versus deontological ethics), and moral character (praiseworthiness and moral luck). I led a weekly discussion section and graded students' written work.

Teaching Evaluations

You can read the full teaching evaluations for every course that I’ve taught here. Excerpts of what some of my students have had to say about my teaching are below.

“A good TA is what makes a discussion section valuable and Bill is easily the best TA I’ve ever had at Cornell.  I would gladly take any class if he was the TA for it.  He gives great feedback and provides a thorough answer to every question asked, and it is clear that he has a grasp on all of the concepts we discuss.”

 “Bill Watson is the best TA I’ve ever had in my life and frankly better than most Cornell Professors I have had. He explains things so well and doesn’t move on until students really understand the subject matter. He goes out of his way to help students (i.e. his office hours are very flexible, answers emails promptly, etc.) and is really fair with grading.”

“I have personally never attended office hours prior to this course….  I found myself more open to the idea of, as well as in need of, outside help from a person like Bill.  Bill has exceeded my expectations with regards to his wealth of knowledge relating to the subject matter, in addition to his capacity to provide useful and constructive help.”

“I appreciated Bill’s genuine interest in helping students to understand the material and learn how to improve their writing…. The edits he made and the time he took to meet with me was very valuable to [me] in both learning the material and finding passion in this subject.”

“It was a pleasure having Bill Watson as a TA!  He is a genuinely good scholar who cares a lot about the success of his students.  He was always able to meet with me when I needed to look at our assignments or talk about something I didn’t understand.  He tried his best to make even the most dull information exciting.”

“Bill’s sections helped clear up this confusion [about the course material] 100%. He broke down every concept for us and created an environment where we could ask any questions with little pressure. He is the most helpful TA I have ever met in my undergraduate career.”

“Bill was amazing! He was one of the best TAs that I have had at my time in Cornell.... He did a great job at facilitating discussion and helping everyone improve over the course. He was extremely accessible and helpful outside of class as well.”

“Bill was always incredibly prepared and presented the (sometimes complicated) course material in an incredibly clear and effective manner.  One of the best TA sections that I've had.”

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