• Director, SPARC Environmental Justice Lab
  • Associate Professor, Geography Department

Current Courses

Fall 2024

  • ENVST 3365-001
    Enviro Justice
    Location: TBA (TBA)
  • ENVST 5558-001
    C. Food, Justice & Sust
    Location: GC 3660 (GC 3660)
  • GEOG 7950-016
    Indiv Projects

Spring 2024

Teaching Philosophy

I believe in cultivating citizens who are empowered to think critically and contribute to the larger community, citizens who know both their socially-constructed and ecological addresses. Our personal and professional approaches to life are inescapably telegraphed by our teaching methods, and our choice of methods is critical in assuring that students find their voices. As an educator, I have a responsibility to more than course content; I have a responsibility to the whole student and, consequently, the larger community. 

Excellence in teaching requires an understanding of how people learn. If I require my students to sit quietly while I fill their heads with information, if I ask them to follow me through an experience telling them what is going on each step of the way before they have a chance to observe and ask questions, if I tell them how to evaluate the things that I’ve given them to read, then I will have undermined the process of learning. Future understandings are based in students’ current experiences, beliefs, and culturally-based perceptions. At times, these understandings serve students well in building their knowledge. At times, these understandings limit further conceptual development and need to be challenged by discrepant events, language, or experiences. In both cases, knowing not only what my students know but also who they are, is critical in facilitating instructional experiences tailored to meet their evolving needs.

Assessment must be a continuous part of both learning and teaching. To this end, I often give students the opportunity to submit work more than once in order to provide for more thoughtful engagement through iterative feedback on drafts. I also create opportunities for students to apply new understandings to different settings. I assess my own teaching and classroom practice several times throughout the semester, and strive to make myself both available and approachable. To this end, I often ask students to respond to reflective prompts, e.g., “what’s working” and “what’s not working” and use their anonymous responses to better explain my intentions and make needed changes. 

I believe that learning happens most effectively among peers struggling together to make sense of a concept or process. In my classes, I explicitly invest time and energy in building a community of learners: using and correctly pronouncing student names, encouraging dialogue both inside and outside the classroom, and creating intentional group learning experiences. This models the respectful participatory community I hope to engender and facilitates questioning our assumptions in terms of our relationships with each other, our communities, and with all living things. 

Courses I Teach

  • EDU/PRT/ENVST 5175/6175 - Environmental Education
    This course will bring together competencies needed to successfully implement environmental education (EE) programs. Specifically, students will explore educational theories and corresponding instructional strategies for program implementation; delve into the ecological concepts that are foundational to an understanding of sustainability, and apply these understandings in teaching K -12 students. This course is designed for teachers and outdoor educators in both formal and non-formal settings who will be working in either facility or expedition- based programs. There are no prerequisites for this course.
  • ENVST 2100 - Intro to Environmental and Sustainability Studies
    This online course examines human-environment relations from a variety of disciplines. It consists of a series of lectures from University of Utah faculty on a wide variety of approaches to sustainability. The course will engage students in a diverse range of research, viewpoints, and approaches to studying environmental/sustainability issues, and provide a unique opportunity for students to be exposed to the great wealth of research and teaching the university offers. The students will hear a dramatic range of opinions, be exposed to many different kinds of intellectual inquiry, and hear from research faculty from many disciplines.
  • ENVST 3365 - Environmental Justice
    This course examines the proposition that communities of color experience disproportionate impacts of environmental and health hazards that result from social, political, and economic practices. We will explore, for example, the confiscation of land and water from native communities, the placement of toxic waste-producing facilities in communities facing poverty, and the lack of access to healthy food, air and water in communities that lack the political access and financial resources to fight for them. We will critically reflect on these issues, explore the economic practices and governmental policies that sustain them, and challenge ourselves to become aware of the ways that personal choices can result in inequities for diverse groups. We explore the theories and concepts of environmental justice, assess the empirical research on the subject, and examine specific case studies and policies. Finally, the course will explore ways to achieve environmental justice for all people regardless of race, gender, ethnic heritage, and income level. The overall goal of the course is to use an interdisciplinary approach to understand how a multi-cultural democratic society can achiev sustainability within a framework of justice and equality for all.
  • PRT/ENVST 5180 - Field Ecology
    Reading the landscape and making it interesting for program participants depends on ecological literacy. This intensive field-based course will be an introduction to regional field ecology in which participants will develop skills in reading the landscape from an ecological perspective. We will use science, art, and literature to understand the ecology of our region. We will also explore the ways regional conservation efforts are informed by ecological field research and monitoring.
  • PRT/NUTR 5650/6650 - Eating for Justice, Health, & Sustainability
    Food movements are playing an increasingly vital role in the development, promotion, and success of justice, sustainability, and health movements throughout our society. From “eat local” and Community-Supported Agriculture practices to garden-related voluntourism, eating itself has become a merging of the personal and the political that can either reject or embrace a commitment to justice, sustainability, and health. In this course, students will explore political and economic factors that affect a just and sustainable food system, consider how our food choices promote or discourage justice and sustainability, and investigate the ways that our food cultivation, preparation, and consumption is related to healthy lifestyles. And, there will be cooking, canning, and field trips to local farms and restaurants!

Student Projects

  • Food Justice: A Cookbook Ethnography. Katie Harrington and Mary McIntyre. 01/06/2014 - 05/01/2014
  • Real Food Rising: Impacts of Education and Social Marketing Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Willem Schott. 08/20/2013 - 05/01/2014