TEACHING

He never stops teaching. 

—a colleague asked to evaluate my approach to pedagogy

My teaching at Coastal Carolina University focuses on methods of critical inquiry and interdisciplinary research. I also have experience teaching courses on a variety of topics within geography and the environmental sciences including climate change, environmental policy, GIS, ocean ecosystems, natural hazards, and sustainability. I enjoy mentoring student research and do so both as part of coursework and separately as undergraduate and graduate thesis projects. 

I use a teaching style that conveys passion, expertise, encouragement, and inclusion. In my teaching evaluations for just one course during the 2018-19 year, the words “passionate” and “enthusiastic” were used 23 times by the 38 students enrolled. While it is fulfilling to be viewed as a passionate teacher, I am more interested in being an effective teacher. Student learning is the single most important outcome and evaluations of my teaching, both from students and from my faculty colleagues, bear witness to its effectiveness in this regard. One colleague/observer remarked that I am “exactly the kind of teacher that engages students, keeps them interested, and opens the world of environmental studies to them.”

I have developed two field-based courses, one in Iceland (in the photo above, discussing with students the conservation implications of a legend stating that the mountain we just descended, Helgafell, can grant wishes) and another in New Zealand, which I have taught four times each. Both courses focus on natural hazard mitigation and natural resource conservation. For each, an on-campus prefatory seminar introduces students to the concepts and relevant literature for the field program and allows them time to develop plans for individual projects. Following this preparation, I lead students on an approximately two-week study tour of the relevant country, both of which I have traveled in extensively. The field program involves structured lessons and site visits, meetings with local experts, and time for students to pursue the independent projects they proposed during the seminar. These experiences serve to etch memories, both of the travel and of the course material, in students’ minds and have led more than one of these programs’ alumni to refer to them as “the class of a lifetime.”

© 2020 by Russell Fielding