Karen Nordstrom serves as a Professional Advisor for the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont (UVM). This current work is guided by a national trend toward scholarly examination of the advising field. Her exploration of this trend has led her to the field of appreciative advising (AA). AA is a student-centered advising model that optimizes advisor interactions with students for the purpose of holistic student development. This reciprocal approach to academic advising aligns well with her interest in program development that supports student wellness.
Karen completed her doctoral work through the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at UVM, where her academic background was situated within the field of sustainability education. Her primary advisors for this work were Environmental Program faculty, and her work involved applied scholarly engagement on the UVM campus and beyond. She led program development processes within the residentially-based learning community focused on sustainability, and co-designed and taught domestic and international courses focused on high impact educational practices in the fields of agroecology and food systems. These courses and programs allowed her to work alongside UVM faculty who have taught in a range of disciplines associated with environmental studies and food systems. In addition, she has taught courses at UVM that include: environmental education and traditional ecological knowledge for environmental studies, introductory courses for the undergraduate major in food systems, and seminars centered on notions of sustainability for the Sustainability Learning Community. She aims to integrate her work with students centered on environment and sustainability with the field of contemplative pedagogy.
Her Masters level research focused on K-12 garden-based science instruction. Initial inquiry into this field led to her great interest in scholarly endeavors that integrate program development with the praxis of teaching and learning. Karen’s current scholarly endeavors are anchored in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), wherein she utilizes a participatory evaluation framework to develop undergraduate curricular and co-curricular courses and programs. Recently, this work has centered on the development of an undergraduate research fellows program with the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative at UVM; a project linked to a university Engaged Practices Innovation initiative that supports educational improvement. She further intends to use SoTL to design and study novel learning environments within the Environmental Program, namely those that integrate environmental studies with contemplative practice.