Position title: Professor of Geoscience
I am a research scientist, with most of my work focusing on how mountains form and how the tectonic plates slide past each other. But, I also enjoy teaching – and being associated with – the ILS program. I find that the program brings out the best in students, and encourages everyone to be a bit more intellectually alive. What the concept of ILS means to me is the encouragement to be a “whole” person; and I find the concept of a renaissance person very appealing.
The courses that I teach in the sciences, within the ILS program, do not focus on memorization or solving math problems. From my perspective, a lot of the technologies associated with the Internet should fundamentally alter how we teach. In fact, the ability to easily access information should put the emphasis in teaching back where it should have been in the first place: How to critically evaluate information, summarize and present it to others, evaluate the uncertainty, and then make decisions based on it; and quantitative skills can help with this process. I subscribe to an idea from John Dewey that it is worth developing Habits of Mind, which are habits of critical thinking that can be developed by using them. In some ways, the goal of a university education should be more focused on developing these critical thinking skills.