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What People Say

His Colleagues. . .

"Sam Richards is recognized as one of Penn State's most engaging and compelling instructors. His lectures and teaching methods are legendary for making socially significant and complex material accessible to diverse audiences."
-- Graham Spanier, President, The Pennsylvania State University

"In Penn State’s exit interviews with students, we ask about the courses that have had the greatest impact on them. Year after year Sam Richards’ course on race is at the top of the list of thousands of classes. Students praise the course because it engaged them deeply on such an important topic.”
-- John Harwood, Associate Vice Provost for Informational Technology Services, The Pennsylvania State University

"This class makes a real difference in how students think about race, gender and discrimination. What I find so exciting about the class are the built-in opportunities for discussion and reflection. Students learn as much from each other as from the very good classroom instruction.“
-- W. Terrell Jones, Vice Provost for Educational Equity, The Pennsylvania State University

"Sam Richards is not only one of our most innovative faculty members in his use of technology, he is also one of the most thoughtful. What sets him apart is that he doesn't simply use technology for the sake of using it but, rather, he uses it to support and extend his unique approach to engaging his students.”
-- Cole Camplese, Senior Director, Teaching and Learning With Technology, The Pennsylvania State University

His Students. . .

"Sam doesn’t lecture—he talks to us. His class is interesting because I feel as though he and I are engaging in a conversation.”

"What I like best about him is that he isn’t biased at all. He doesn’t take a specific side just to make people happy; he tells it like it is.”

"He doesn’t want to change people’s opinions but he does want his students to think.”

"This class helped me realize that I have the right to think for myself. Other people tend to adopt an opinion just because everyone around them has the same one. Usually, we don’t take the time to think about why we believe certain things.”

"It’s one of those classes you want to tell your friends at other schools about but it just isn’t the same as physically being in the room.”

"Sam’s approach to class topics isn’t telling you to change your view on the matter but it is showing you an alternative way to approach it.”

"I learned that we need to start thinking for ourselves instead of blending in with the majority.”

"Sam...speaks to us as if we are having a one on one conversation.”

"Sam fosters the communication between students. By talking with our peers I believe we learn so much more than we could from just a boring old lecture.”

"Sam welcomes opinions that contradict his own.”

"This class has been one of the most influential and informative classes that I have ever taken.”

"I firmly believe that I learned more in this class by just sitting and listening than in any other course on my schedule.”

"There were definitely days where I disagreed with some of the things being said in class, but...all in all, this class was always mind-opening and interesting, with a twist of craziness and entertainment, and I’m really glad I was able to take part in it.”

"I never felt like it was a chore to come to class because I was learning things about myself in every single class.”

"What strikes me the most about Sam’s teaching method is that it is so unconventional.”

"He is so passionate about his material.”

"This class has helped me become comfortable with my race and the races around me. At first I felt awkward because we were talking so openly about race and there were so many other races in the room. I wasn’t sure how everyone was going to react. I was scared everyone was going to take sides and build up walls, but I was surprised. Sam was so open and comfortable and we just followed his lead.”

"This class has caused me to spark conversations that I would not normally, about subjects I would probably never normally bring up. It has opened my eyes to the injustice that litters our lives and the lives of people all over the world. I may not have the solution but I will not be part of the problem anymore.”

"Sam is the best teacher I have ever had, and probably will ever have.”

"No teacher has ever had me talking about the class so often and for so long.”

"I was told to take “anything that Sam Richards teaches” as soon as possible.”

"I remember being so excited for the class, a rare feeling when it comes to school.”

"I never thought the challenging and provocative topics we discussed at great length would ever even be mentioned in a classroom setting.”

"Being a black women growing up in a predominantly white community, I took this class, just as something to do! But I can honestly say, no class has opened my eyes to myself and my personal bullshit and hypocrisy more than Soc 119.”

"Taking this class was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

"Sam isn’t like any ordinary college professor; he is fearless.”

"Sam doesn’t “lecture”—he talks to us. His class is interesting because I feel as though he and I are engaging in a conversation.”

"You don’t think you are learning in SOC 119 because you don’t take notes, and yet you come out of the class knowing so much and understanding the world so much better.”

"I have to thank Sam for actually doing what a professor is supposed to do by calling me to think, learn, and act. So thank you Sam, for doing your job and making me a more understanding part of society.”

"I keep finding myself telling my friends and parents about the things I have learned.”

"This class has surpassed so many of my expectations it’s ridiculous.”

"The thing that surprises me most about this class is the impact it has on me outside of the classroom.”

"He is a one of a kind professor.”

"I have never been part of a class where lecture provokes different kinds of emotions, opinions, and feelings.”

"Sam does not want us to believe what he believes; he is only trying to open our minds to new possibilities and new ways of thinking.”

"SOC 119 totally lived up to all the hype.”

"It takes a lot of courage to teach like Sam because he dared to challenge our minds.”

"I took this class as an elective. I figured I was going to just go, sit in class, not pay attention and easily obtain an easy “A.” It was recommended to be a fun and interesting class, which is true, but it was much much more than just that. It was insightful. I actually did not miss a class. I paid attention. I liked it.”

"This class is probably the most controversial class at Penn State, and probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I will ever have here or ever.”

"You basically sit and have your mind blown twice a week.”

"I had never been so happy to go to class then when I went to Sam’s class.”

"He was one of the most honest teachers I ever had in school which includes every grade K-12.”

"After the first class, I thought it was too good to be true. Finally, a professor who tells it exactly like it is.”

"Sam always keeps everyone on their ‘toes’ as he is constantly trying to push the limits of opinions and thoughts.”

"Sam doesn’t lecture—he talks to us. His class is interesting because I feel as though he and I are engaging in a conversation.”

"What I like best about him is that he isn’t biased at all. He doesn’t take a specific side just to make people happy; he tells it like it is.”

"He doesn’t want to change people’s opinions but he does want his students to think.”

"This class helped me realize that I have the right to think for myself. Other people tend to adopt an opinion just because everyone around them has the same one. Usually, we don’t take the time to think about why we believe certain things.”

"It’s one of those classes you want to tell your friends at other schools about but it just isn’t the same as physically being in the room.”

"Sam’s approach to class topics isn’t telling you to change your view on the matter but it is showing you an alternative way to approach it.”

"I learned that we need to start thinking for ourselves instead of blending in with the majority.”

"Sam...speaks to us as if we are having a one on one conversation.”

"Sam fosters the communication between students. By talking with our peers I believe we learn so much more than we could from just a boring old lecture.”

"Sam welcomes opinions that contradict his own.”

"This class has been one of the most influential and informative classes that I have ever taken.”

"I firmly believe that I learned more in this class by just sitting and listening than in any other course on my schedule.”

"There were definitely days where I disagreed with some of the things being said in class, but...all in all, this class was always mind-opening and interesting, with a twist of craziness and entertainment, and I’m really glad I was able to take part in it.”

"I never felt like it was a chore to come to class because I was learning things about myself in every single class.”

"What strikes me the most about Sam’s teaching method is that it is so unconventional.”

"He is so passionate about his material.”

"This class has helped me become comfortable with my race and the races around me. At first I felt awkward because we were talking so openly about race and there were so many other races in the room. I wasn’t sure how everyone was going to react. I was scared everyone was going to take sides and build up walls, but I was surprised. Sam was so open and comfortable and we just followed his lead.”

"This class has caused me to spark conversations that I would not normally, about subjects I would probably never normally bring up. It has opened my eyes to the injustice that litters our lives and the lives of people all over the world. I may not have the solution but I will not be part of the problem anymore.”

"Sam is the best teacher I have ever had, and probably will ever have.”

"No teacher has ever had me talking about the class so often and for so long.”

"I was told to take “anything that Sam Richards teaches” as soon as possible.”

"I remember being so excited for the class, a rare feeling when it comes to school.”

"I never thought the challenging and provocative topics we discussed at great length would ever even be mentioned in a classroom setting.”

"Being a black women growing up in a predominantly white community, I took this class, just as something to do! But I can honestly say, no class has opened my eyes to myself and my personal bullshit and hypocrisy more than Soc 119.”

"Taking this class was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

"Sam isn’t like any ordinary college professor; he is fearless.”

"Sam doesn’t “lecture”—he talks to us. His class is interesting because I feel as though he and I are engaging in a conversation.”

"You don’t think you are learning in SOC 119 because you don’t take notes, and yet you come out of the class knowing so much and understanding the world so much better.”

"I have to thank Sam for actually doing what a professor is supposed to do by calling me to think, learn, and act. So thank you Sam, for doing your job and making me a more understanding part of society.”

"I keep finding myself telling my friends and parents about the things I have learned.”

"This class has surpassed so many of my expectations it’s ridiculous.”

"The thing that surprises me most about this class is the impact it has on me outside of the classroom.”

"He is a one of a kind professor.”

"I have never been part of a class where lecture provokes different kinds of emotions, opinions, and feelings.”

"Sam does not want us to believe what he believes; he is only trying to open our minds to new possibilities and new ways of thinking.”

"SOC 119 totally lived up to all the hype.”

"It takes a lot of courage to teach like Sam because he dared to challenge our minds.”

"I took this class as an elective. I figured I was going to just go, sit in class, not pay attention and easily obtain an easy “A.” It was recommended to be a fun and interesting class, which is true, but it was much much more than just that. It was insightful. I actually did not miss a class. I paid attention. I liked it.”

"This class is probably the most controversial class at Penn State, and probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I will ever have here or ever.”

"You basically sit and have your mind blown twice a week.”

"I had never been so happy to go to class then when I went to Sam’s class.”

"He was one of the most honest teachers I ever had in school which includes every grade K-12.”

"After the first class, I thought it was too good to be true. Finally, a professor who tells it exactly like it is.”

"Sam always keeps everyone on their ‘toes’ as he is constantly trying to push the limits of opinions and thoughts.”