As a geographer and social scientist, I believe that one of the most important aspects of teaching is to guide students in their development of critical thinking, interdisciplinary scholarship, and proactive problem solving skills. I am dedicated to preparing students to address global society’s most pressing food and environmental issues – from the impacts of climate change to the roots of food system inequities—during their tenure as students and in their post-graduate careers. I continually seek new ways to accomplish this through classroom and co-curricular activities and I expect students in my courses to challenge themselves to expand understandings of key environmental issues related to their individual academic and professional goals.
My teaching philosophies reflect the key questions in my research program, which uses rigorous social science research methods and action research frameworks to advance food systems sustainability and environmental justice. I ground this work in longstanding action research traditions, including Paolo Freire’s problem-posing educational model for community empowerment and political change. I bring these approaches into the classroom, helping students learn about and analyze social and political structures surrounding food and the environment. To this end, a primary teaching goal is to help students continually refine their understandings of social, political, environmental, and food system issues as they evolve. This, I believe, helps students develop responsive leadership skills that are, and will continue to be necessary in addressing global food and environmental issues in grounded, interdisciplinary, and culturally sensitive ways.