Teaching is an important piece of my work. In the classroom I aim to help students place environmental issues in the broader context of society, economy, governance, and community–and critically examine the relationships between them.
Teaching inter- and transdisciplinary environmental issues continues to be increasingly important in higher education and elsewhere. Yet in the research community, oceans issues remain under-investigated and under-theorized by social scientists. Similarly, I think these issues can go under-examined in the classroom. Because of these things, illuminating the role of ocean space and resources at all scales of analysis, from the global seafood economy to the cultural implications for coastal communities, is a particularly important goal in my teaching philosophy. Ultimately, making the ocean–and more generally, the environment–matter to students, and helping them explore its complex and essential role in society, is an important challenge for instructors in the social sciences and one that I enjoy tackling. This involves approaching complex topics like the dual roles of conservation and use, how power dynamics affect environmental decisionmaking, and the rights of resource users and other stakeholders. Challenging students on these and other issues, and helping them independently and collaboratively tackle and understand them, is a valuable task in the classroom.
Toward these goals I have instructed or acted as a teaching assistant for a number of classes at Duke (see below), working with both undergraduate and masters level students. In any teaching position, I try to emphasize the role of discovery and critical analysis, and balances independent thinking with collaborative learning. A classroom framework that revolves around discussion and interrogation of complex topics (through, e.g., debates, short assignments, field trips, and lecture prompts) creates an atmosphere for students to engage, learn from one another, and think critically about difficult problems, while larger projects (e.g., term papers) are an opportunity to delve deeply into more specific issues. Maintaining a diversity of teaching methods helps keep students engaged in and out of the classroom.
Additionally, I hope to encourage students to think about how classroom concepts translate into practice “on the ground.” This is an important task in any field, but one I think is especially critical in environmental education. I try to communicate the diverse roles that stakeholders play in environmental policy processes, emphasizing both the complex interactions between actors, the impacts that policy may have on them, as well as the opportunities to participate in these processes—for all stakeholders, including the students themselves. Engaging legislative documents, attending public meetings, and reviewing policy briefs are all possibilities for students both inside and outside the classroom, and help connect concepts to practice. Similarly, field trips can put the classroom in context; a short trip to a local harbor, fish house, or fish farm and a chat with a fishermen isn’t just fun, but helps make classroom material real.
ENV 286A, Marine Policy; Fall 2014, Duke University (syllabus available)
ENV 533A, Marine Fisheries Policy; Spring 2013, Duke University (syllabus available)
ENV 249.01, Green Futures: Exploring Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability; Fall 2011, Duke University
ENV 273.01, Marine Fisheries Policy; Spring 2012, Duke University
ENV 276.01, Marine Policy; Fall 2011, Duke University