Return to Index
Meaning, and explaining the ‘why’ of a phenomenon, come from the context. The lower-level mechanics, the ‘how’ of a phenomenon, have nothing to say about the ‘why’.
From Hierarchy Theory: A Vision, Vocabulary and Epistemology by V. Ahl & T.F.H. Allen
Teaching & Mentoring
My teaching and mentoring fills a need in undergraduate and graduate natural resource programs by integrating human and ecological domains of pressing academic questions and practical dilemmas (Roth 2008). Given the complexity of human-nature relationships, students must incorporate information from various sources and evaluate its quality with multiple analytical tools and perspectives. My pedagogy seeks to inspire students a) to pursue more knowledge and b) to critically assess this understanding(s).
To accomplish these goals, it is essential to enhance classroom settings with an experience-based approach. Guidance is available from systematized resources (e.g., the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) EcoEd Digital Library), but since 2000, I also have prioritized providing students and volunteers with laboratory and field training in the U.S. and Patagonia, including being the coordinator of dozens of international, interdisciplinary field courses and internships. Equally important for predictive science, though, teaching integrated models and conceptual frameworks (e.g., Collins et al. 2011, Diaz et al. 2015), helps students structure their understanding of social-ecological complexity and the links with different social actors and disciplines. At the same time, while the hands-on experiences described above are imperative for students to become engaged and comprehend underlying theory, I have found that technological and online resources in the classroom facilitate comprehension of these topics and allow linking participants from diverse locations. While at the University of North Texas (UNT), for example, I created a distance-learning course on conservation and regularly integrated guest lecturers via videoconference. Plus, I have produced webinars on coupled nature-human systems with the ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) Program. Finally, to explicitly enhance the variety of approaches to science, I dedicate effort to facilitate the human diversity involved in research, including working in various capacities with ESA SEEDS, including being the founder and mentor of the UNT chapter (see also Statement on Inclusion & Diversity for more detail).
During my career, this approach has been used in the development of interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate courses at various universities related to the integration of social and natural sciences and the humanities (UNTDF: Introduction to the Study of Society, Culture & the Environment, Integrating the Human and Natural Dimensions of Socio-Ecological Systems; FLACSO: Ecosystem Services: Challenges, Opportunities, Conflicts; UNT: Social, Ecological and Ethics Dimensions of Invasive Species; UNT/UMAG: Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Distance-Learning Course and Tracing Darwin’s Path Study Abroad Course). I have also taught basic natural science courses (UMAG: Sub-Antarctic Ecosystems, UNTDF: General Ecology), but have mostly focused on developing students’ understanding(s) of interdisciplinary approaches to science and its applications, welcoming not only disciplinary integration but also team-teaching. For example, with my collaborator Josh Donlan we offered an innovative course in Chile (UMAG: Pushing the Frontiers of Conservation by Integrating Novel Dimensions to Research and Decision Making) that brought tools from economics, finance and governance to bear on conservation. I have also taught Philosophy of Ecology with eminent environmental philosopher J. Baird Callicott (UNT), and currently, with Alexandra Sapoznikow, we offer an annual, intensive graduate-level workshop on the Human Dimensions of Conservation, recruiting students from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia. Plus, as a product of our CNH grant, with Michael Sorice at Virginia Tech we created a graduate course on Humans and the Environment that is offered biannually.
At curricular and program-levels, I participated in the team at UMAG that developed and accredited the first master’s program in Patagonia (M.S. in Sub-Antarctic Conservation). Furthermore, at UNTDF, I was tasked to lead 8 faculty members in two cities to create a novel course entitled Society, Culture and Environment, a requisite class for all incoming students to the university. Finally, I helped design the B.S. in Environmental Sciences at UNTDF, working specifically on the non-traditional skillsets needed by students in to work in interdisciplinary fields, such as communication or leadership. All of these experiences provided me insights on course development and pedagogical resources that are needed to successful teach diverse students from an array of backgrounds. Plus, I have a clear record of leadership and teamwork in interdisciplinary, international and distributed educational/mentoring settings.
Inclusion & Diversity:
My understanding of inclusion and diversity in education, research and conservation practice has been shaped by two seminal experiences: i) coordinating an international field course in Cape Horn, Chile and ii) leading a team of 8 faculty in two cities tasked with implementing a required interdisciplinary, first-year course in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. These experiences provide lenses to analyze my philosophy and methods on this topic.
i) In 2010, the program I coordinated between the University of North Texas (UNT) and the University of Magallanes (UMAG) established a relationship with the Ecological Society of America’s SEEDS Program, dedicated to enhancing human diversity in ecology. During that year’s annual field course, the SEEDS coordinator said to me that some chaotic conditions and logistical failures actually would impede the success and participation of students from particular backgrounds. That conversation with Melissa Armstrong about the “pedagogy of inclusion” made me aware that we must create broader conditions where diverse students can be successful, which first requires them to feel comfortable and welcome, in addition to the more apparent issues of being relevant and valued.
ii) In 2012, at the National University of Tierra del Fuego (UNTDF), I was tasked with creating a new, required course for all incoming students on Society, Culture & Environment. Argentina’s constitution enshrines education as a social right. As there are few admission requirements to enter the university, pedagogically one must be prepared to teach students from extremely diverse backgrounds. If a “sink-or-swim” approach were implemented, the outcome would be to continue to only graduate upper-middle and upper-class students, as those from less advantaged backgrounds would be weeded out despite the liberal admissions criteria. The issue then is how to make the university amenable to a broad spectrum of students, ranging from recent high school graduates from vulnerable socio-economic sectors to established professionals with advanced degrees, but not reduce expectations. Our team systematically dealt with this challenge by developing a student-focused pedagogical sequence that linked theoretical and practical aspects of the course in a step-by-step manner with “seminars” and “workshop” settings and collaborating with education experts to ensure remediation where necessary. Currently, we are preparing a book on this experience, which will serve as the textbook/manual for this innovative course (expected publication date July 2016).
A broad array of disciplines contribute to inclusion and diversity in education and science (see Roberge & van Dick 2010), but my personal approach is based on recognizing the individual as the first step in that process (Armstrong 2012), which requires one to be prepared for a series of modifications to attune the pedagogy or research agenda to a broader array of human experiences, interests and needs. Consequently, I understand inclusion and diversity as creating the conditions whereby people are not just invited, but feel comfortable, which also applies to including other social actors in the co-production of scientific research (see CV for work with local communities and decision makers). Participants must feel relevant and valued, which necessitates attention not only to conceptual issues, but also practical, logistical and ethical considerations and a willingness to be a co-participant, rather than an authority. Essentially, the relationship is reconceived as one of community, rather than re-enforcing master-pupil power dynamics, to attain a truly inclusive and diverse study body, workforce, scientific profession and society.
Courses to be Offered in 2012-present:
Universidad Nacional de Tierra del Fuego:
· Lead Professor:
· Creator and Lead Professor (of 8 professors in 2 cities): Introduction to the Study of Society, Culture & Environment – fall (2013-2016).
· Co-Professor: Introduction to Ecology – spring (2015-2016).
· Co-Professor: Interdisciplinary Team Teaching (lead professor, Erik Nielsen, NAU) – fall (2016).
· Invited Professor: The Human Dimensions of Conservation. National University of Patagonia – spring (even years in Puerto Madryn since 2014).
Courses Recently Offered in 2011-2012:
University of North Texas
· Co-professor: Philosophy of Ecology (graduate level) – spring 2012 (J.B. Callicott & C.B. Anderson). Evaluation = 3.5 of 4.
· Professor: Social, Ecological, Management and Ethical Dimensions of Human-Introduced and Invasive Species – spring 2012 (C.B. Anderson and guest lectures by D. Simberloff, A. Pauchard, B.M.H. Larson and J.B. Callicott). Evaluation = 3.5 of 4.
· Co-professor: Contemporary Topics in Conservation (graduate level) – fall 2011 (J. Johnson, D. Hoeinghaus, S. Wolverton & C.B. Anderson). Evaluation = 3.8 of 4.
Universidad de Magallanes
· Pushing the Frontiers of Conservation by Integrating Novel “Social” Dimensions to Research and Decision Making (C.J. Donlan & C.B. Anderson) – July 2011. Evaluation = 95% of 100%.
Courses Previously Developed:
· Co-creator and co-professor: Introduction to Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation (undergraduate and graduate levels in philosophy and biology and accredited as a distance learning course for non-UNT students)–fall 2009 & 2010 (R. Rozzi & C.B. Anderson). Evaluation = 852 of 1000 for fall 2010.
· Co-creator and co-professor: Tracing Darwin’s Path field course in sub-Antarctic biocultural conservation (undergraduate and graduate levels in philosophy and biology)–winter break 2006-2010 (R. Rozzi & C.B. Anderson with K. Heidinger, J. Kennedy, J.B. Holbrook & J. Johnson)
· Professor: Sub-Antarctic Ecology and Landscapes–2007, 2008 & 2010.
· Laboratory instructor: Introduction to Ecology for Science Majors, University of Georgia–Institute of Ecology. Overall evaluation: 4.7 and 4.6 of possible 5.
· Creator and field coordinator: Non-traditional Study Abroad Program, University of Georgia–Office of International Education. Program entitled Ecology and Conservation in Cape Horn, Chile offered study abroad opportunities to five UGA undergraduate students.
· Co-teacher and co-creator:
Evidence of Successful Teaching and Mentorship:
· 2006 recipient of the University of Georgia Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award
· Theses mentored:
o Master’s Theses: 2 completed (UMAG), 1 completed (UNT) & 2 in course (UMAG)
o Undergraduate Honors Theses/Projects: 1 (UNT) and 4 (UGA)
o Ph.D. Committees at UNT: 2 Biology UNT; 1 Tourism UNT
· Fulbright Award to Jon Henn, B.S. biology student, St. Olaf College, 2013
· Fulbright Award to Jennifer Zavaleta, M.S. wildlife management student, Texas Tech., 2013
· Fulbright Award to Jared Fiorentine, B.S. electrical engineering student, UNT, 2012
· Fulbright Award to Jean-Paul Zagarola, M.S. environmental science student, UNT, 2011
· CONICYT FIC-R Master’s Scholarship to Ernesto Davis, M.S. conservation, UMAG
· First Prize–UNT Scholar’s Day Undergraduate Symposium, Category: Natural Sciences, 2010 to Michael Simanonok, B.S. biology student, UNT
· First Prize–Student Poster, Chilean Ornithological Congress, 2008 to J.C. Pizarro, M.S. conservation student, UMAG
· First Prize–Science Thesis, Annual CURO Undergraduate Research Symposium, 2005 to Brett Maley, B.S. biology student, UGA
· UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Award for Summer Research-$2,000 and Georgia Museum of Natural History Laerm Award-$700, 2005 to Will Collier, B.S. ecology student, UGA
· UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Award for Summer Research-$2,000 and Best Undergraduate Poster, 2004 to Clayton Griffith, B.S. ecology student, UGA
· Number of undergraduates who have published their honor’s theses in peer-reviewed journals = 3 (C. Griffith-UGA, B. Maley-UGA, M. Simanonok-UNT)
· Mentor and founder of UNT’s Ecological Society of America Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) Chapter