Growing up in a rural town with two liberal arts colleges instilled in me an early respect of the role knowledge plays in enhancing our appreciation of our surroundings. I see studies in the earth and environmental sciences in particular, as a path to deeper connections with our community and environment. I hope to share my enthusiasm with everyone who takes a course with me, but recognize that some of my students will not continue on to become earth scientists, or even pursue careers in science. Major, minor or just there to fulfill a science requirement, all students will engage in our democracy and make decisions about environmental issues, necessitating a basic understanding of scientific knowledge and how it is evaluated. Accordingly, my teaching philosophy is grounded in the idea that a course should not only cover content, but also seek to improve students’ abilities to access and interpret scientific information, interrogate ideas and communicate on multiple levels.
In every course my core motivation is to support students as they learn and practice critical reading, data interrogation, collaborative work and effective communication. These skills are among the most valuable in a scientist’s toolbox and have comprehensive implications for everyday life. Our political and social structures work best when citizens are able to engage them, ask questions, identify shortcomings and cogently advocate for improvement. My expectation is that students who take my courses come away with ability to speak confidently and intelligently about the subject material, but as a committed educator I see it as my responsibility to equip students with skills that will be valuable regardless of their career or academic trajectory. I believe my teaching reifies that goal and reflects my commitment to education as a vital part of life, rather than as a pursuit of the elite.