Teaching

My teaching philosophy can be summed up in the Japanese ことわざ (kotowaza, or proverb) 亀の甲より年の功 (kame no kou yori, toshi no kou).  Literally, this is translated as “the experience of years is greater than the shell of a turtle,” but its colloquial meaning is closer to “experience is the mother of wisdom” or “experience is the best teacher.”  I like, however, the imagery of the turtle shell as something less than experience.  My goal in teaching is to help my students open their eyes to the geography all around them; to get outside and see the world.

I hope to give students the tools (through geographic inquiry and/or GIS methods) to explore, analyze, question, and document their experience in the world.  I believe that the best learning comes from creating a classroom environment where discussion is welcome and hands-on experience is expected.  I believe in technology in the classroom, as long as it is used responsibly (friends don’t let friends use sound effects in PowerPoint).  I believe we should ask and (try to) answer hard questions.  I believe that my enthusiasm for a topic will help my students become excited about it too.  I believe in going outside to experience geography first-hand.

In introductory courses, I try to focus classroom time and assignments on discussing real-world situations that teach geographic principles and that such principles can help us better understand the real world.  In advanced courses, I strive to get my students outside to more deeply experience and practice the geographers craft.  Between 2011 and 2013, I received over $20,000 from the UW-Platteville Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE) program to facilitate collaboration between my students and a community partner to complete a GIS-based mapping project to benefit the community partner.  You can learn more about these projects and see a photo gallery of our work here.

At Illinois State University, I teach the following: 

  • Fall Semesters:
    • Urban Geography (300 level)
    • World Regional Geography (100 level)
  • Spring Semesters:
    • Introduction to GIS (300 level)
    • Regional Field Studies: West Texas/New Mexico (300 level)–Every even-year Spring
    • Maps and Society (Quantitative Reasoning in the Geosciences) (100 level)–Every odd-year Spring
  • Summer Terms:
    • Japan Study Abroad–Every odd-year Summer
    • Introduction to Human Geography (100 level)
  • Occasional:
    • Cultural and Social Geography (300 level)–occasional (last taught Spring 2010)
    • Advanced GIS (300 level)–occasional (last taught Fall 2014)

At UW-Platteville, I taught the following courses:

  • World Regional Geography (100 level)
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (300 level)
  • Advanced GIS & GPS (400 level)
  • Geography Seminar: Cities, Place, Cinema, & Landscape (400 level)
  • Directed Undergraduate Research

In my previous positions, I have taught the following courses:

  • Introduction to Human Geography (100 level; KU, Online)
  • Principles of Physical Geography (100 level; Haskell)
  • Introductory Lab in Physical Geography (100 level; KU)
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (300 level; Haskell, ISU)
  • Applications of ArcGIS (300 level; Haskell)
  • Advanced GIS & GPS (300 level; Haskell)
  • Laboratories in Analyzing Geographical Data, Intro GIS, and Intermediate GIS (KU, BYU)
  • Directed Undergraduate Research (Haskell)