A Critique of the Modern Education System

What is art? An expressive fulfillment of an artist’s right mind quota? A release of creative energy? It simply must be more. Art, without a viewer, without a venue, is wasted. With no one to interpret the value to their own life, or to even critique the use of color patterns and hues, art is breathless, and has no bearing in our world.

This critical analysis of viewer on art has relevance to education, yet. Our communities would not function if it weren’t for the passion of the artist, the critique of the viewer, and perhaps the morals of both. Schools must, and could mold students into these roles, however, our education system currently lacks. The future of education could create citizens who have the qualities of critical thinking, passion and morality, three traits of an exception human. Wouldn’t you want exceptional humans running the planet?

If I could design an educational system for universities to adopt, it would revolve around those three characteristics, much like the philosophy of Sugata Mitra, a speaker from the mini-documentary “Future Learning,” which revolves around producing students who excel in reading comprehension, information retrieval and belief. My college program would be interdisciplinary, would implement the use of technology, and would place emphasis on the human side of education, rather than lackluster content and information.

To inspire passion in college students, my program would, as David Siffrec puts it, “blur the line between learning and play.” Children who play video games often learn quickly and efficiently the skills needed to explore, create, and problem solve. My university would run similarly. There would be many programs where students can explore their interests; they could create their own degree, take classes that fascinate them, talk monthly with students like them, about topics that interest them. I would want to see heated debates, lots of laughing, and inspired work outside the classroom. Of course, the coursework would be relevant to a career, but in order to remain focused and motivated, students should enjoy the work they’re doing.

For students to think critically, the program would be very interdisciplinary. IDS involves systems thinking and the theory of complexity, which helps students look at large and multifaceted problems in order to break them down. In this university, students would be faced with real life issues or projects that have many layers, and many stakeholders. They would break away from doctrine. This would require them to think critically about prioritization, what needs to be done and what doesn’t, and how to solve the problem as a whole. That way, when students leave, they’re prepared for anything life throws their way.

Lastly, something that many universities lack is a program or curriculum that emphasizes being a good person. It’s a humble idea, but it holds so much value. I oft wonder why we are at war, why we argue, why we steal, why we lie to our brothers and sisters. I wonder if this is due to our education as a child. We were told to be kind and genuine, and essentially we had the right to choose whether or not we wanted to conform to that. Once people grow up, if they don’t see a personal need to be that way, they won’t. A program that emphasizes an ethical consciousness, one of many values of IDS, might change the way students behave. It might even just be on a small scale, where students start to hold doors for one another, or they start complimenting strangers. Or, it could progress and happen on a large scale, and it could create a kind and thoughtful community of people looking out for one another. In order for this to work, the philosophical issues that are brought forth to students need to be relevant to their life. They need to care about them in order to act upon them. Professors should pose difficult ethical questions to students on tests, rather than ones that are information based. The content should address issues far beyond the molecular physiology of cells or the proper use a semi colon. Classes and lectures should make students think far beyond the hour they sit in class.

Technology, as mentioned in the film, is a huge part of today’s educational system. It’s a hot, debated topic that poses many a question. Should we reject technology completely, in the fear that it is destroying our interpersonal skills? Should we merely limit it? Should we embrace it fully? I think technology should supplement the educational system. I noticed in the film that doctors were using an iPad to reference during a mock surgery. Sure, it’s convenient, but how does that help the students transfer skills to real life? They can’t reference their notes in real time, when there’s an imminent procedure on their hands. Technology makes folks dependent on quick information retrieval. We need people to learn experientially, with lots of practice. It’s a great pedagogical tool, and it keeps people with the times, but as Seth Weinberger insists, technology should be used for “lower order” teaching.

Imagine a world of critical, passionate and moral people. Perhaps there’d be less war, and less corruption. Or maybe people would simply be kinder. I think that our current education system does a great job with information assimilation, but in order to instill the traits listed above, our education system needs to be more experiential; after all, that’s what life is. When we face problems, we don’t have notes to reference, or word problems to break down. Education should inspire students to be good people who question ideas and fervently tackle life’s tasks. Everything is abstract, like art, and with a collection of experiences, we can face challenges bravely.

Works Cited:

GOODMagazine. “Future Learning | Mini Documentary | GOOD.” YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2012. Web. 13 May 2016.

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My Journey Through IDS: A Progression of Interest and Intellect

I’m sitting down at the dinner table with my family during Winter Break, and my mom asks,

“Hey daughter o’ mine, what are you studying these days?”

“Well, I’ve actually changed my major again,” I replied.

“There’s a shocker. To what?”

“Interdisciplinary Studies.”

“What’s that all about?”

“It’s uhh, little bit of this, little bit of that… y’know.”

“So you have no idea?”


    That was about my understanding of interdisciplinary studies. Before entering in this course, I thought interdisciplinary studies meant studying a ‘little bit of this, a little bit of that,’ in order to get a more well rounded, and possibly less tunnel focused education. Boy, has that changed.

A faculty member suggested this degree to me, as I expressed my passions for environmental science and adventure education, so I figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a go. I thought it was a degree for those who were a little unsure about what they wanted to do. I thought it was for folks who had too many interests, and a hard time focusing on just one. I was quickly humbled on the first day when I was told the opposite: that this in fact was a course and a degree for those who had super future seeing powers, and knew what they wanted to be, but PSU couldn’t match their needs. Oh man.

After a lot of advisor meetings, and a healthy amount of soul searching, I isolated my most fervent interests, and decided on a career path: Environmental Education. From there, I dove into the IDS course in order to broaden my lack of understanding on the topic. By reading and responding to Repko and various scholarly articles, my understanding evolved. I learned about complexity, ideas of common ground, different types of educational communities, and how the disciplines fit within.  I’d now define interdisciplinarity as a progressive blend of related fields that allow people to wear multiple hats and transfer ideas across disciplines in order to address complex issues. Instead of the “fruit bowl” idea that I came in thinking this was all about, I’ve since realized that this field is a blend, rather than a mix. It engages the best parts of each field, allows each to be highlighted and revered, and gives academics a common language in which to speak and solve problems with.

As I mentioned, I’ve been highly influenced by the texts that we’ve examined in class. One of the theories that I’ve incorporated into my program is complexity. In outdoor environmental education, we’ll be talking about global issues such as climate change and ocean acidification, and those are big, complex ideas. In order to inspire kids to tackle these issues, we need to isolate the moving parts of the issues, find connections, and think about all the different fields and stakeholders that play a role. Understanding this idea of complexity helped me choose classes that will give me different perspectives that I can use when tackling large and multifaceted issues with kids.

Another principle that I believe strongly in is the idea that specialization can lead to tunnel vision and can hinder creative breakthroughs. There’s nothing wrong with becoming an expert in something; in fact I applaud those with ph.D’s in obscure fields. However, I think it can be difficult to relate to those in other fields and solve problems with them if you are only versed in one thing. People can get sucked into what they already know well and be averse to opening their mind to new ideas. With that in mind, I made sure I incorporated fields that were different enough that gave me broad perspectives, but similar enough that I can transfer ideas within each field and develop a loose, but significant specialization that won’t give me tunnel vision.

Not only is interdisciplinarity important in my own life, but it’s also imperative to universities and on a greater scale as well.  If you think about it, besides profit, what do universities want to achieve? They want to produce well rounded, marketable, employable students. What better way to do that than by giving them an interdisciplinary degree? They can master any interview, appeal to countless jobs, all because of their breadth and depth of experience. On a global, social scale, this means that society is gaining competent, tolerant and experienced members. People who study interdisciplinary studies are more likely to accept and entertain ideas from folks from other disciplines, find common ground among their colleagues, and problem solve efficiently.

When I leave PSU, I want to make big changes. Like most teachers, I want to inspire students to make a positive impact. I want them to be captivated by learning, and take it upon themselves to learn independently of school as well. I want my students to be the ones asking the hard questions, staying up late with friends to have philosophical conversations, and I want them to feel fulfilled. Of course, I want the same thing for myself, too. I want a meaningful job, I want my work to be dynamic and creative, and I hope I can learn a lot as I go. I hope I’m constantly improving my craft, constantly applying new theories and tricks. I hope I can stay fascinated.IMG_6617.JPG

I hope the same things for the future of IDS as well. I have a (rather educated) hunch that IDS is going to explode, and soon. At PSU, it seems to be catching fire, especially within the new cluster system. I think it’s extremely progressive, so a lot of students are going to catch on; students shouldn’t settle for things that they’re not passionate about. I see so many of my friends bumming out about a major that isn’t right for them, and they feel like it’s too late to do anything. I don’t want students to feel like they’re wasting their money for an education that someone else picked out for them. Education should be extremely democratic and that students should get to choose what they study. I think their interests should be constantly engaged, and IDS does just that for students here. Being able to design your field of study seems like it’s what college should be, and with PSU’s program as a standout example, I hope a lot of schools follow suit.


Photo above: This is an action shot of a press conference I held with my co-president Victoria Santry (to the left of me), to advocate for 100% renewable energy on campus by 2030. This is the kind of change I want to be making. Real, tangible change. Beside me are a social scientist, an ecologist, and a renewable energy technician. Working with them, I truly felt like an inter disciplinarian, because I was helping to amalgamate and communicate the ideas of three completely different professionals into one in order to solve a complex issue.

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A Larger Whole: Complex Systems in IDS

Think about the materials you used in school as a child. Pencils, paper, picture books – these are all simple items. Now, think about how the materials given to you changed over time; paper became a laptop computer, pencils became keyboards, picture books; novels. You went from studying “History,” to “20th Century Wars,” from “Math,” to “Applied Calculus.” What happened? Your knowledge expanded, and your tools increased in complexity.


This is a key concept of Interdisciplinary Studies, as explained by William Newell, author of  “A Theory of Interdisciplinary Studies.” He outlines a theory that is already engrained in our core as academics. We’ve studied multiple disciplines, used intricate tools, and at one point or another, blended ideas and concepts across fields.

However, the “blended” approach is not always our go-to solution when we’re faced with problems. We tend to “study the individual facets or sub-systems,” rather than “developing specific, whole, complex systems to study such phenomena,” (1). In other words, we have trouble with the cohesion of the facets we study.

A complex system, as suggested by Newell, can be likened to a map with multiple GIS layers, sub-systems, components and non-linear connections. It is, in short, complex. It’s how we recognize these connections, and how we understand the links between our work in this system, that matters in solving problems.
Take climate change, for example. That’s a problem and a half. There are billions of stakeholders, some concerned with budgets and spending, some concerned with the natural world, some concerned with the wind turbines that are going to block their backyard ocean view. This is a complex system. And there’s no simple solution. There’s this “distinctive self-organizing, overall pattern or set of patterns of behavior that gives the system its identity,” and to csm_melting-ice-polar-bear-on-2063111_16391916d7isolate this/these, and then integrate, is no easy task (7).

Yet, with a problem such as climate change, it’s imperative to look at the sub-systems like economics, natural capital, and human happiness in order to find a solution. Each system has to be considered and then integrated with the others.

Newell closes by assuring that if “complex systems theory indeed permits us to visualize each step in the integrative process and to determine how well we integrated, it will have amply demonstrated its usefulness for inter disciplinarians,” (22).

Now we march forth in our expansion of knowledge and tool building. We will progress in our methods, welcome the integration of ideas and disciplines into our problem solving, and become fruitfully aware of the efficacy of such an approach.

Works cited:

Newell, William. “The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies.” (n.d.): n. pag. Miami University. Web.


Climate change responses are up to us

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Establishing Common Ground

Has someone more knowledgable than you ever started a conversation about something that you had no idea how to respond to? Probably not, because you’re all super smaht, but this has happened to me plenty of times.

When looking at instances like that, I could react in one of two ways: I could get frustrated and down on myself for not understanding what in the world this person is talking about; or I could try and ameliorate the situation by establishing some common ground.

I’ll back ucommon-ground-300x294.jpgp, ask them to define terms that I’m unclear about, give me context, and then we can move forward. This tactic, as suggested by Repko, is “implicit in the concept of integration” in interdisciplinary studies (129). It’s what allows humans to have productive conversations with one another, and it’s what allows the integration of disciplines.

For example, take the two disciplines of natural sciences and education, both of which are integral parts of my degree. Each have their own “truths,” or norms, realities and centralized dogmas. In order to blend these, I need to be able to understand both disciplines’ truths, and they need to be recognized by one another in a sense in order to integrate well. Common ground is a foundation for more complex ideas to stand on. With no basis, nothing can grow, which is why it’s so important to build a strong platform for these disciplines to stand on and interact.


Photo Source: http://professionallyspeaking.net/finding-common-ground-with-your-audience/

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Uniformitarianism in Earth Sciences

What’s in a uniform? Other than, typically, pants, uniforms consist of invariability. They’re designed to make people look similar to one another. They’re unchanging and static, and aside from small changes in the details of uniforms such as the additions of buttons or collars, uniforms have been unchanging for a long time.

In science, specifically geology, there exists a sense of uniformitarianism, similar to that of clothing. Repko has identified this in his epistemological dissection of the disciplines (106). In geology, it’s theorized that the geological processes that exist today have been acting the same way since the beginning of time. Neat stuff.

So, how is this at all relevant to interdisciplinary studies? Well, uniformitarianism is a very specific concept that’s entirely relevant to Earth Sciences, and not so transferrable to other disciplines such as English or Mathematics. Upon reading this from Repko, I was a little discouraged at the lack of translatability of this concept to other disciplines. Of course I understand that geological uniformitarianism is a very small and specific concept in the sciences, but I was left with a hollow feeling that combining disciplines (what I’m doing for my degree) would leave me struggling to blend them.

IMG_6433After this confusion, I stepped back for a second and realized what Repko was doing; he was demonstrating the concept of epistemology. He was explaining and exemplifying what differs from field to field. As an interdisciplinarian, a part of me wants to deny that the disciplines I’m combining differ that strongly from field to field, because it makes my justification a little weaker for combining them. However, its these differences that should be highlighted. I shouldn’t be worried about trying to seamlessly blend these disciplines because its the unique components of each that will make my degree strong.

(The above photo is of a mesa of sandstone in Arizona – a rock structure whose geological processes are identical to those from thousands of years ago).

So, I can celebrate uniformitarianism as its own, unique concept. There’s no need to find a way to translate that exactly or relate it perfectly to other disciplines. Repko helped me understand ways to isolate these unique concepts in each discipline, allowing me to revel in their differences.


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Degree Justification

I’m picky. That’s proved to be both a blessing and a curse; on one hand, I’ve had the luxury of designing my own degree, but it’s also obnoxious (I’ll admit) that I’d rather hand pick my courses than follow the path esteemed professors have laid out for me. That’s why I’m designing a degree in Outdoor Environmental Education, which is a blend of Adventure Education teaching and facilitation courses, courses in the hard sciences of Environmental Education and Biology, and a few classes with a focus in Geographic Information Systems. I created this program when I was an Environmental Science Major with a Minor in Adventure Ed; I realized that I wanted to be an environmental educator, and so a blend of the following classes is conducive to helping me reach that goal. While having only a minor in Adventure Education would allow me to take a couple classes with a focus in teaching, it would exclude me from participating in the Immersion Semester, where I’d really hone my facilitation skills in the wilderness, which is a big part of Outdoor Environmental Education. This is unlike any other PSU program because this offers an equal blend of science and experiential education, rather than having a focus in one with a few courses in the other.

When creating a degree, it’s important to have logic and a justification behind each course that’s included, in order to form a holistic education. To begin, the course I’ve selected for my QRCO was General Chemistry I (CH 2335), which I took my freshman year at the University of New England. In this course, I developed the ability to analyze quantitative material, and use quantitative techniques to solve problems in chemistry. It was a four credit class with a lab, and the majority of the course involved experimenting, collecting data, and analyzing it through the use of graphs. I chose to include this course because it provided me with the skills listed above as well as a general understanding of basic chemical concepts. As an environmental educator, I want to have a wide breadth of knowledge, and be able to answer questions about thermodynamics, chemical bonds, and material of the sort.

For my TECO, I’ve chosen Immersion Wilderness Expedition (AP 3101). This course is part of a fourScreen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.23.35 PM.png class block in the Fall of my Junior Year, where I spend a few weeks in the wilderness. This course will teach me how to plan and prepare for wilderness trips, practice appropriate risk management, and understand technical and environmental skills. This is relevant to Outdoor Environmental Education because my classroom will likely be outdoors and I’ll need to know how to plan my lessons/trips accordingly, while implementing Leave No Trace ethics, practicing risk management, and transferring technical and environmental skills to my students.

(Above, I’m standing send from the left on a lookout on Mount Osceola, leading a trip for the SOAR Program at PSU. Hopefully, this program will allow me to lead more awesome trips like this, but with an ecological focus!)

For my WRCO, I’ve chosen Tropical Biology (BI 3210). This is a writing intensive course that prompts me to inquire about the diversity of life and the basic ecological processes of tropical ecosystems. This might seem irrelevant to teaching in the Northeast where we live in a temperate seasonal biome, but having an understanding of an ecosystem that differs greatly from our own expands upon my breadth of knowledge and can allow me to make comparisons for my students. It’s important to have an understanding of ecosystems that differ from my own because it makes me more versatile as an educator. I also someday dream of working in a tropical environment such as one in South America because I am almost fluent in Spanish, so having this background knowledge would be incredibly helpful.

Aside from the QRCO, WRCO, and TECO classes, I’ve also selected other classes to comprise my major. I’ll begin with the courses from the Adventure Education department that outline the teaching and facilitation skills I will develop. First, another course from the immersion semester is Immersion Group Management (AP 3301). As explained in the course catalog, this class “presents an in-depth coverage of the theory and applications of outdoor leadership skills and small group management.” This is essential to outdoor environmental education. The classes I will be teaching are small, and the lessons will often be taught in the field, so being able to manage groups in such a novel (but unique) setting is very important. In this class, I’ll hone my leadership styles, get a better grasp on understanding how to read group behavior and dynamics, and I will be able to react appropriately to problems that arise.

Next, is the Immersion Human Nature Relationship (AP 3201). This class encourages exploring the evolution of human’s relationship with the natural world. As an environmental educator, not only am I teaching scientific concepts, but I’m encouraging and guiding students to accept and appreciate their relationship with nature. This will heighten their fascination with the harder science concepts, and allow them to feel closer to nature, which will greatly enhance their learning.

            Lastly, is Teaching Theories and Methods (AP 2210). This class has me developing lesson plans and teaching the skills to classmates, learning physical, cognitive and affective methods of instruction, group management and learning assessment. This is a really significant course because I’m learning how to create engaging, experiential lessons, which are exactly the types of lessons I’ll be planning and implementing as an environmental educator – a field that is entirely experiential.

            Aside from the dense selection of Adventure Education courses in which I’ll be honing my skills as an educator, I also need to have the knowledge of the concepts I’ll be teaching. I may know how to make a lesson plan for teaching the Nitrogen Cycle, but if I don’t understand it fully myself, the lesson will suffer and the students won’t learn as much. For the “science” component of this degree, I will or have taken several classes in Ecology, Biology or Geographic Information Systems. Ecology is an important field to understand because it outlines relationships in nature which are important for students to recognize. Biology is significant because it dissects the concepts from ecology and demonstrates them on a cellular level. Geographic Information Systems is a complex topic, but is important to understand; it is a progressive field, and students can apply a lot of the ecological and biological concepts or interests they might learn by utilizing the technology that Geographic Information Systems can provide.

IMG_4051To begin, I have taken a Practicum in Field Ecology (ESP 2100) at the University of New England, where I trapped, tracked and collected data on Grey Squirrels around campus. I learned how to handle wildlife, dissect scientific journals, and analyze data that I collected manually. These are important, practical skills that will be essential should I assign any field reports or data collection and analysis for students. I’ll be able to explain them fully, since I had such an immersive experience myself.

(Above is a picture of one of the many squirrels we tracked and trapped).

I’ve also taken Intro to Geological Sciences (ESP 2150). This class prompted my investigation of earth’s geosystems, where I identified minerals, keyed out different rocks types and fossils, and used basic geological instruments for measuring. Having a basic understanding of how the Earth formed is essential. I will be able to recognize the pattern of Earth’s geological processes when I’m teaching in a certain area, and I can convey this to students so that they can recognize examples on their own.

Next, I’m currently taking Natural History and Ecology for Adventure Educators (AP 2500). While this is technically an Adventure Education course, it focuses on ecological concepts, rather than any educational skills. In this class, I’ve developed species identification skills, and I’ve enhanced my flora and fauna classification experience. It’s provided me with a foundation of environmental literacy, which is something that is emphasized heavily in environmental education. I want my students to be able to classify species, identify them by asking questions and using field guides, and essentially develop the ability to “read” the environment on their own. This class is helping me learn just that, which I’ll be able to convey to my students easily.

I also plan on taking an upper level biology course called Conservation (BI 3240). This course examines the interdependence of all species on Earth, global economics, consumption patterns, and cultural diversity. Not only will I be learning some of the nitty gritty biological details, but I’ll be developing an understanding of how economics and culture affect the preservation of land and species.  Being an environmental educator means having an understanding of the physical environment, but it also means emphasizing in a subtle way the current environmental issues (such as barriers that suppress conservation). I should not only understand a species role at an ecological or biological level, but the role it plays in a global context, and what steps humans are taking to alter that role for the better.

Another science course that will add to my environmental literacy will be Current Environmental Issues (BI 4800). This class is discussion based, and prompts students like myself to consider the world’s most pressing issues and what steps we can take to mitigate the risk of complete destruction. I can teach my students about these issues, and challenge them to think of ideas about how to help their community, if even on a local scale. It’s this type of urgency that surrounds the environmental issues that is important to instill in students, and this class will give me the tools to do so.

Lastly are the Geographic Information Systems courses, or GIS courses for short. The first one is Introduction to GIS (GE 3370). I will learn about the design and implementation of GIS software as well as gain some experience operating the equipment and applying it to real-world problems. As aforementioned, GIS is a complex skill that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to fit well with the young population of students who are typically taught by environmental educators. However, it’s likely that I’ll be using GPS’s at many points, and in order to better explain the technology behind the equipment, I should have an in-depth understanding of the software it takes to design and create the maps in GPS’s. Also, this field is ever progressing and is one of the most important tools used in environmental science. Not only will these skills help me produce materials for students, but I will be able to help develop their own.

            Two classes that build off of Intro to GIS are Advanced GIS (GE 4270), and Introduction to Air Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing (GE 3350). Advanced GIS emphasizes the organizational and legal context of GIS use, professional issues and


CC BY 2.0 Eric Fischer – Here’s an example of something you can make using GIS Software https://flic.kr/p/9tmY3W

communication between different GIS software and project implementation and management. As I mentioned, I want to have an in-depth knowledge of this material. Also, before I start teaching, I have a desire to do some ecological research so that I am versatile and well rounded as an educator, and I’d like to use this equipment to do such research. This course will help me develop the skills needed and the familiarity with the GIS software I’ll need to carry out the work I want to do before I become an educator.

Introduction to Air Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing (GE 3350) is a more specialized GIS course, and involved the interpretation of aerial photographs, satellite images, and other remotely sensed data. This unique skill would be helpful in assisting me in complex research before I start teaching. I could use these skills to monitor Wildebeest migration in Africa, assist in environmental land planning, or anything in between. That way, when I start teaching, I’ll have a breadth of experience to draw from, and could even teach these skills to my students. For example, if we’re out on a trip, we could perform an ecological assessment to identify which areas are most ecologically valuable.

There are two “other” courses that I think will be helpful for my degree. The first is a special topic in Hospitality and Tourism Management called Ecotourism (TMP 3000). This well help me market myself as an environmental educator, and should I decide to take my teaching on the road or develop a unique program, I’ll have a foundation for doing so. Some day, I’d like to teach in a remote location, or possibly become a guide at a national park that gives tours about the ecology and natural history of the location. This class is a great match for those interests.

Lastly, I would like to do an Independent Study (4910). I would do this with Christian Bisson, an esteemed professor who has extensive experience in environmental education. We would develop a plan of study where I would read and analyze popular theories and philosophies of environmental education, and I would create my own teaching philosophy. Having my own philosophy is important because it keeps me grounded and rooted to my morals and what I believe is most important as an educator.

My program is interdisciplinary because it blends three diverse fields into one, practical degree. It calls upon the use of multiple intelligences, an essential component of interdisciplinarity. I’ve involved courses that invite the use of logic, such as the GIS upper level classes, and I’ve also included more creative classes such as Teaching Theories and Methods. This will propel me towards a future in environmental education because I’ll have developed a strong foundation in experiential education teaching strategies and philosophies, and I’ll have a solid understanding of the scientific concepts I’ll be talking about to my students. The GIS classes are supplemental, and will help me land jobs in research after college, while I hone my “conceptual” knowledge first before I try and convey the information I’ve learned to young students. I think it’s important to have experience outside of teaching so that I can bring more to the table as an educator. I think I’ve designed a degree that’ll do just that.

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Specialization’s Folly

We’d be in trouble without specialists. We’d have less faith in medicine, less complexity in music, and the Cronut probably never would have been invented. (Scary, I know!!) Yet, specialization runs the risk of being too, er, special. This discipline often fails to “consider other perspective,” (Repko 79). Repko gives the example of psychologists studying terrorism. He argues, “when cognitive psychology studies a complex behavior such as terrorism, it studies only the mental life of individual terrorists,” (79). How can any conclusions be made for the terrorists’ motives if only their brain is studied? Isn’t it
possible that there were religious pressures, or other external factors? This way of thinking doesn’t take into account those other possibilities.
IMG_6076In the field of Outdoor Environmental Education towards which I’m moving, it’s important not to develop tunnel vision. It’s easy to develop a bias about environmental issues and only focus on the political or financial implications that accompany these issues. However, I can’t import this bias into the lesson. They need to be able to see all sides of the issue and formulate their own opinion. It’s important that I consider all pieces of the puzzle before conveying this information to anyone.
Inter disciplinarians make up the frame and foundations of buildings, while specialists are he windows and doors. There’s opportunity for the windows and doors to be opened once in a while, but not all the time. The content between the disciplines is arguably what holds it all together.


This is a photo of a goat I took in Torcello, Italy. I’m feeding him grass here, but if grass is all he’s fed, grass is all he knows. Likewise, if one discipline is all you learn, it’s all you know.

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Works Cited:

Repko, Allen. 2014. Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Sage Publications, L.A. Print.