Practicing what I preach

It just occurred to me that if this is truly a learning community, maybe I should also complete the assignments. So here goes…

Firstly, Who am I? Well, my name is Julia Metzker. I live in a little town on 22 called Haddock. You have probably sped through our caution light. We are working to get a stoplight, so someday you might actually have to stop in Haddock. We have an old farm house on 2 acres in the center of Haddock. We have chickens, bees, a big garden and will soon be planting some fruit trees with the aim of growing more of our own food. I grew up in a semi-rural setting and worked on an organic farm in college so I guess that’s where the interest in growing food comes from.

I am a chemist and my formal training and research is predominantly based in theoretical research but I have always been interested in researching sustainable solutions for my local community to environmental problems. This is where most of my course ideas come from. The three “big problems” I am interested in teaching around are:

1. Global climate change: This is actually the focus of the IDST class I am currently teaching. For the pas two years I have been fortunate, in that this course was clustered with Amy’s MATH1101 course, and we were able to “team teach”. The team teaching doesn’t mean we both taught one course, rather we worked together to align the goals and content in our two courses. My course, IDST2405, is called “Necessities of Life” and the content can vary. Last year, we chose climate change as the science topic. Obviously, a lot of science can be taught through this topic and I focused on the chemistry because it is what I know best. In the end, we had great outcomes from this course because the students were clearly able to place the science and math they learned in the context of climate change.

2. Sustainability: Like Caralyn, I am very interested in the concept of sustainability. I think it is a fantastic topic because the ideas of sustainability can be applied to diverse disciplines ranging from philosophy to chemistry. For example, one of the SENCER model courses looks at the relationship between sustainability, environmental issues and human health. (You can read more about this model here). I would very much like to design a course that looks at the sustainability of small communities (like Haddock). Many of these communities were at one time sustainable (i.e, there were jobs, food was grown locally) and now they function more as rural bedroom communities (if there is such a thing).

3. Community Research: I am also very interested in designing courses relevant to the local community. Relevant in the sense that the community benefits from a tangible product produced by the class. Amy Shachter at Santa Clara has done some great things with her “Chemistry and the Environment” course using her campus as the community. The students have affected real change by implementing a recycling program and working with the university to make changes to the food service on campus. (This is where the SENCER conferences are often held by the way – so you might get a chance to see what her students have done at one of the SENCER Summer Institutes)

About Dr. J. Metzker

I believe in the power of a liberal education to transform individuals and society. I am currently the Executive Director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. Formerly, I led a community engagement initiative and held a full professorship in chemistry at a public liberal arts university. I am a proud product of The Evergreen State College.
This entry was posted in notes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Practicing what I preach

  1. cbzehnder says:

    In my ideal 5-year plan (or maybe 10 year), we (meaning the Environmental Sciences Dept) start an organic farm where students can take part in the actual farming (though we would have a full time farm manager) and also do research projects. Plus there would be community involvement, outreach etc.

    I basicially want to copy Amy Schachter’s class as an upper level ENSC course!

    Thanks for all the links.

  2. We should talk! This is a plan I would love to see come to fruition! My alma mater (Evergreen) has (had) and organic farm that was recently burned down. It’s very sad. The farm was (is) the heart of that school. You can read the story here.

  3. klmkleine says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I do pretty well keeping up w/ e-mail and LiveText but I am not one who instantly thinks “latest technology” to solve problems, conduct business, think etc. That is why you see me infrequently posting. However, I am committed to developing learning communities and that is why I will pipe in here.
    My own background is in science ed., specifically hist. & philos. of science & sci. ed. I have been at GCSU for 12 years. I met my husband, molecular biologist Dr. Mike Gleason, here. I was a middle grades science teacher in Maine before that. And before that I was a hotel manager for Sheraton in various places. And before that I was a “mailman” in San Diego. I say all this to tell you that many of of my interests are not those of the stereotypical science-math person. I am also fascinated by how people learn and organizations run so I like to observe and analyze. I believe scientific thinking is a very useful/powerful way of thinking and thus I believe all decision-makers (which would be every American citizen), especially teachers, need to have such a skill so any course I might develop would probably have to do with tying such beliefs & interests together. Environmental science/sustainability doesn’t really interest me but I see a great deal of value in such learning.

    I also wanted to tell the group that I know a fair amount about curriculum and assessment so if you want me to comment on goals and outcomes, or you want to talk about such a thing, let me know. I will be at the Middle School Association conference next Wednesday and will miss you. But please let me know if I can help–klmk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s