Dr. Lynn Botelho

Lynn Botelho earned her first degree from Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon and her culminating doctoral degree from Cambridge University. She was also a visiting scholar at Welcome Unit for the History of Medicine at University of Oxford.

Botelho dreamed of being a college professor starting in the fifth grade, and she began teaching at IUP 20 years ago. As explained in our interview, she chose teaching at IUP over an elite private school because she came from a rarified atmosphere of only research.

“IUP is a teaching school, and I love it,” Botelho said. She teaches liberal studies history courses. Her courses inform students about the formation of American politics and the foundation of America by looking through the lens of Henry VIII and the questions he raised when he sought an annulment from his marriage. She teaches students how history shapes identity and shapes the past. She also teaches about the Renaissance and the Reformation, historical theology, early modern Europe, the history of medicine, and history of the body.

In addition to her teaching duties, Botelho also serves as director of the Women's and Gender Studies program. In 2011, IUP honored her as a Distinguished University Professor. In 2013 Botelho was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the UK for research. She is writing a book called The Aging Body which examines illnesses of old people as well as cures. The book also discusses how Europe became increasingly quantified and number-driven, and how that plays out in medicine and in a capitalist system. Her book argues that age should be added as a fourth analytical category to race, class, and gender.

“Humanities offer a full range of skills. We can take information in a written form, or visual form, or orally, and we learn to analyze it, to reduce it to its key components, and then we can recombine it to say something new. It's that sense of being able to deal with information is what Humanities has to offer. When I work with my students I show them how this can impact their lives and how they may use this," said Botelho. Being proud of her students, she stated, “It's fun to spend four years watching a student's mind come alive.”

Botelho's most effective teaching method is to lecture; however, she does not deliver a “standard” classroom lecture. Her favorite comment from student feedback is one that said she should consider stand-up comedy. She has even been known to stand atop a desk to lecture.

“Lecture is a performance art, the ability to tell a story. To act out the story, I may include a student. I hide the analytical and the detail within the narrative,” she said. One of Botelho's favorite class projects involves students designing their own country. For example, students determine how they will structure their country's military and education system, and how to pay for it. The project stimulates serious and thoughtful classroom discussions.

Finally, the human sense of curiosity inspires Botelho to teach. She observes how curiosity creates engagement and believes that curiosity plays important role in learning. It is especially rewarding for her to see students “get turned on by history, or with women's and gender studies.” She also finds it rewarding when she can make time to engage in her own curiosity. According to Botelho, “You can't be a good teacher unless you are intellectually engaged in your subject. You have to do some research of your own to keep you interested—to keep you curious. Your own excitement for discovery ultimately brings it over into the classroom.”

When asked how her course objectives map to the university's strategic mission, Botelho is concise: “Make the world a better place.”

Outside of her career, Botelho is also a world-class fencing champion. She took up fencing in childhood, and has since won the national fencing championship twice. She is currently a member of the Veteran World Team, which is the senior component of Team USA. She recently won the North America Gold Cup and will be competing with the World Team in October.

Written by: Lisa McCann

Edited by: Marie Webb