University of Vermont

Erickson - Teaching
Jon D. Erickson - Teaching

I approach teaching from a transdisciplinary, problem-oriented perspective. This requires casting a broad net for knowledge and approaches that can be brought to bear on the particular problem at hand. This in turn calls on placing the student in an inquiry-based learning environment where the problem being addressed or the physical setting of the class inspires questions and the search for insights across disciplines. The learning environment I hope to produce might come from the problem of study -- for example in my undergraduate ecological economics course where students partner with an organization to define a problem, break into groups and analyze its pieces, synthesize together the potential solutions, and communicate the results. Or it might come from a service-learning experience -- for example in my classes to the Dominican Republic where students fundraise and complete projects in an impoverished community, to date including construction of a community center, a health clinic, a literacy center, multiple homes for families, and an HIV/AIDS prevention education program. Or the learning environment might come from the very place we're studying -- for instance in travel-study classes to the Adirondack Park where the places we visit, people we meet, and questions asked form the basis for the learning experience. Transdisciplinary learning also requires that multiple perspectives are represented in the classroom, and thus I actively recruit students from across campus, for example, by cross-listing my Introduction to Ecological Economics class in 5 programs.

By complementing these learning experiences with traditional teaching tools of lectures, readings, discussion, and online activities, I strive to learn the subject matter at hand together with my students, but also increase knowledge retention through hands-on experience. And because learning shouldn't be constrained by the length of a semester, my mentoring rarely ends on the last day of class. Courses have resulted in published papers in peer-reviewed journals, campus symposiums and sessions at professional meetings, presentations to local governments and NGO partners in public meetings, new community organizations and education curricula, and research grants and project proposals. I also utilize internet tools such as Blackboard to help manage my courses, as well as public blogs, student-created web pages, and YouTube videos to report on class outcomes. Through engaged learning I hope to create a positive impact on the students, our class partners, and the problem of study. It also means blurring the lines between teaching, research, and service.

This teaching philosophy and pedagogy is implemented through my teaching responsibilities, including: (1) Core classes to both Rubenstein School and Environmental Studies undergraduate programs; (2) Graduate courses in support of the Certificate of Graduate Study in Ecological Economics, and social science electives for MS and PhD programs of RSENR; (3) Elective courses for recreation management, environmental studies, and natural resource students; (4) An introductory course in ecological economics for all UVM majors; and (5) Vermont Field Studies for our incoming graduate students. I have also been assigned responsibility in the past to develop courses and joint programs with the Business School and for the Honors College.

Sample Courses

Rubenstein Undergraduate Core Curriculum:
Problem-Based Courses:
Graduate Course Offerings:
Travel-Study Courses:

Last modified January 06 2015 11:39 PM

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