Teaching

I have taught diverse groups of all ages in both classroom and field settings at institutions ranging from universities to liberal arts colleges to educational nonprofits. You can learn more about my educational philosophy and course descriptions here.



Teaching Philosophy

Throughout my teaching and mentoring in classroom and field settings across the environmental arts and humanities, my goal is to cultivate a critical awareness of the ecological and social relationships that shape our lives; how the structural inequalities of the past live on in our present; and how we are connected to one another and to a broader civic community.

Using stories, mapping activities, discussions, and student-directed research projects, I encourage students to connect broad social, political, and environmental processes to their own lived experiences. Teaching and learning are forms of radical empathy, not only for the community we create in a classroom together, but also for the lives of others who came before us and those who will come after us. By grounding historical interpretation in lived experience, students are empowered to see their own identities and experiences as expressions of deep interconnections with others. By foregrounding the historical experiences of peoples who were disempowered by virtue of race, class, and gender, students emerge with richer understandings of how governments, ideologies, and material environments shaped and were shaped by social, political, and economic relationships.

For me, teaching, research, and public engagement feed each other in bringing together diverse coalitions to re-imagine the interconnections between pasts, presents, and futures of the western landscapes we share. I see teaching as an iterative process between teacher and student, and am continuously looking for ways to improve as an educator. I use student feedback to reflect on pedagogical practice and translate this feedback into course design, classroom relationships, and essays about how to design and teach curriculum.


Courses

I have held teaching appointments in the Departments of Geography and History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Middlebury College. I have also taught creative writing at the Goodman Community Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Before that, I taught environmental education at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies in Aspen, Colorado. See below for course titles and descriptions.

Instructor of Record

Cartography of Environmental Disasters, Middlebury College (Instructor of Record), January Term 2017: In this course we will spatially interpret histories of environmental disasters. Where did people go and how did they organize themselves on the landscape according to race, class, and gender during an ongoing event like the Dust Bowl or Hurricane Katrina? Combining historical maps with accounts such as Donald Worster’s Dust Bowl and films such as Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, we will analyze, discuss, and write essays tracing stories of migrations and homelands in the face of unwanted environmental change. For final research projects, students will undertake detailed case studies that combine cartographic and text-based forms of historical and geographical storytelling.

Creative Nonfiction, Goodman Community Center in Madison, Wisconsin (Instructor of Record), Fall 2019: In this course, open for free to members of the public, we will write and workshop place-based stories from our own lives and learn the craft of creative nonfiction. Since many stories can be written about the same events of our lives, a goal of this course is to explore narrative perspective by rewriting the same course of events from different points of view. With attention to character development and literary craft, by the end of the course we will have not only produced a polished piece of writing, but will also have gained greater insight into our own personal histories.

Teaching Assistant

American Environmental History, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Teaching Assistant to Prof. William Cronon), Spring 2015 and Fall 2015: Environmental history studies the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world through time. Despite being numbered at the 400-level, this course is intended as an introduction to this exciting and still relatively unfamiliar field of scholarship, with no prerequisites. It assumes little or no background knowledge of American history, geography, or environmental studies, and offers a general survey that can be valuable for students interested in any of these fields, from entry-level undergraduates through advanced graduate students. Although the course is intended to be challenging, it is also meant to be fun: any student willing to attend lectures, do the readings, and work hard should be able to enjoy and do well in it. Our central premise throughout will be that much of the familiar terrain of American history looks very different when seen in environmental context, and that one can learn a great deal about history, geography, and the environment by studying them together. All too often, historians study the human past without attending to nature. All too often, scientists study nature without attending to human history. We will try to discover the value of integrating these different perspectives, and argue that the humanistic perspectives of historians and geographers are essential if one hopes to understand contemporary environmental issues.

Designed curriculum as part of the teaching team and taught and graded four discussion sections (~80 students total) per week. In Fall 2015, I taught the discussion section of Chadbourne Residential College, a residential learning community modeled on liberal arts colleges.

The Making of the American Landscape, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Teaching Assistant to Prof. William Cronon), Fall 2016: Surveys the history of the United States and its colonial precursors from an unusual perspective: the evolution of the American landscape. Designed to complement existing courses on American environmental history and the history of the American West, it begins by orienting students to the geography of the North American continent, paying special attention to those features–geology, physiography, climate, vegetation, ecology–that have had the greatest influence on human lives in different regions. It also offers tools for interpreting landscape: different ways of periodizing the American past, different ways of mapping American space, different ways of narrating American historical geographical change. Once this basic introduction has been completed, the course explores different elements of the national landscape at moments when they became prominent features of American life, tracing their stories forward in time. Eclectic rather than encyclopedic, it focuses on landscape elements and processes most likely to be helpful to students as they try to understand the world around them.

Designed curriculum as part of the teaching team and taught and graded four discussion sections (~80 students total) per week.

Living in a Global Environment (Teaching Assistant to Prof. Morgan Robertson), Fall 2013 and Fall 2014: Explores the global and local nature of environmental problems facing humanity, including climate change, food and energy scarcity, deforestation, biodiversity loss, environmental justice, and population growth. Through group and individual work, students will learn to analyze and address environmental problems on many scales. A key theme will be that what appear to be monolithic global environmental problems are actually many smaller, context-specific and place-dependent problems that when addressed with interdisciplinary and geographic perspectives can be understood and addressed at the scale of our lived lives.

Designed curriculum as part of the teaching team and taught and graded four discussion sections (~80 students total) per week. I was the lead teaching assistant in Fall 2014.

Introduction to Human Geography (Teaching Assistant to Prof. Keith Woodward), Spring 2014: Introduces students to the field of human geography by exploring the spaces, patterns, and processes that contribute to local and global change. To do this we explore the relations between space and social life associated with globalization through the use of a series of human geographic lenses: economic, sociocultural, population, environmental, urban, and political geography. Similarly, we will study global change to better understand human geography. Students will gain an appreciation for interpreting data and trends with a focus on space and scale; the importance of place, environment, boundaries, territory, and other geographic elements important to human experience; and mapping and other geographic tools. Course fulfills Comm B Writing Requirement for undergraduates, meaning that it is a course with maximum emphasis on writing and speaking.

Designed curriculum as part of the teaching team and taught and graded two discussion sections (~40 students total) per week.

Climate Change Science and Impacts (Teaching Assistant to Prof. Jack Williams), Spring 2016: Climate change is underway and will continue into the foreseeable future. Climate change is caused by a combination of natural processes and human alterations of the earth system, with the latter increasing in importance. Because climate directly or indirectly affects all aspects of our lives, and vice versa, it is essential for twenty-first century citizens to be knowledgeable about climate science and policy. This course offers a fundamental understanding of how and why global warming is happening, and what to expect in the future. Together we will investigate and discuss the evidence for climate change, the interplay among human and physical drivers, the science that explains these observations, predicted impacts on humans and ecosystems, and proposed solutions.

Served as the only teaching assistant for this course, working directly with the professor to develop original curriculum, including an “international climate change policy negotiations simulator” and “speculative histories of the future” modules. I taught and graded all discussion sections for the course.


Pedagogy Trainings

Inclusive Teaching Practice in the College Classroom, DELTA Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fall 2017: A semester-long training in culturally responsive teaching in an undergraduate classroom of diverse races, classes, gender identities, and sexual orientations, and religions. I regularly incorporate best practices learned from this training into designing curriculum and teaching and mentoring students of diverse identities and backgrounds.