My teaching has involved delivering core courses for UVM’s Rubenstein School and Environmental Studies graduate and undergraduate programs; designing new programs and problem-based courses in ecological economics with UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment; leading domestic and international service-learning and travel-study courses; and providing ecological economics as an elective for students throughout UVM. I was honored by the university’s inaugural Service Learning Award in 2004 and by the Rubenstein School student body with the Marcia Caldwell Award in 2005. I am also an Adjunct Professor at the University Iceland where I teach a graduate-level short course in ecological economics every fall.
Below is a summary of the three classes I typically teach in any given year at the University of Vermont.
Introduction to Ecological Economics (ENVS / NR 141)
Ecological economics (EE) provides an alternative to mainstream economics that is aligned with contemporary understanding of earth systems, human biology, and deliberative democracy. While the mainstream is oriented around market efficiency and economic growth, EE is a transdisciplinary study of the economy with a three-tiered focus on sustainable scale, equitable distribution, and efficient allocation. Human economies are embedded in social systems, which in turn are contained and sustained by ecosystems. Economic institutions are historically contingent on social contracts, resource scarcity, and co-evolution with biophysical systems. The class serves two broad goals: (1) to establish a knowledge base in ecological economics from which to build subsequent problem-based learning courses at UVM, and (2) acquire problem solving skills to address complex socio-ecological challenges. To serve these goals, weekly readings from a textbook in ecological economics will introduce topics, and student groups will then apply course material to a service-learning project.
Ecological Economic Theory (NR 341 / CDAE 395)
This graduate level course addresses the major points of contention between neoclassical welfare economics and ecological economics. By virtue of being the only heterodox school of economics focusing on both the human economy as a social system, and as one constrained by the biophysical world, ecological economics recasts the scope and method of economic science. Ecological economic models of behavior encompass consumption and production in the broadest sense, including their ecological, social, and ethical dimensions, as well as their market consequences. As such it is a field of inquiry encompassing heterodox schools of thought including biophysical, behavioral, evolutionary, institutional, post-Keynesian, radical, feminist, and social economics. Ecological economics has particularly distinguished itself by its problem-based approach to methodological development and inquiry. The course first establishes the core of neoclassical economic theory, and then provides a critique of the core behavior and production models. We then turn to building an ecological economics as a transdisciplinary foundation for economic theory and practice.
Integrating Science, Society, and Policy (NR 205)
The world is in desperate need of global citizens who can engage across disciplinary boundaries in service of solving complex problems. There will always be a role for specialists and experts, but the major challenges facing humanity call for integrated frameworks and approaches to problem-solving that connect science, society, and policy. With a focus on natural and social science integration, this course was developed as the junior year experience in the Rubenstein School Core Curriculum, integrating material from earlier core courses and drawing from expertise in the School’s six majors. Students are introduced to integrative frameworks, approaches, and tools in the first third of the class, with an emphasis on critical thinking and structured decision-making. They then work in small research teams to practice interdisciplinary scholarship, systems analysis, and synthesis tools through problem-based learning. Ultimately, student teams compete in a research symposium in preparation for entry into the School’s service-learning capstone course. Assigned problems connect to current graduate student research and complement the School’s strategic research directions.
Other undergraduate classes led or co-led at UVM since 2002
- NR 6 – Race and Culture in Natural Resources (diversity requirement)
- NR 104 – Social Processes & the Environment (year 2 core for all Nat. Resource majors)
- ENVS 151 – Intermediate Environmental Studies (year 2 core for all Environ. Studies majors)
- FOR/RM 152 – Forest Resource Values (problem-based)
- NR/PSS/CDAE 285 – EcoVillage Design (problem-based)
- ASCI 298 – Conservation Medicine in the Developing World (travel-study)
- ENVS/CDAE 295 – HIV/AIDS Prevention Education in Migrant Communities (travel-study)
- ENVS/RM 295 – The Adirondacks: Regional Sustainable Development (travel-study)
- ENVS/RM 295 – Winter Sports Culture, Community, and Economy (travel-study)
- HCOL 196 – Consilience: the Quest for Unity of Knowledge (honors class)
- NR 199 – Honors Seminar: Ecological Economics (honors class)
Other graduate courses led or co-led at UVM since 2002
- NR 385 – Alternative Economic Indicators (problem-based)
- NR 385 – Measuring Genuine Economic Progress in Iceland (travel-study)
- NR 385 – Vermont Field Studies (1 credit field course for incoming MS students)
- NR 385 – Adaptive System Management in the Lake Champlain Basin (problem-based)
- NR 378/385 – Adirondacks: the Great Experiment in Conservation (co-taught with SUNY ESF)
- NR 378 – Integrating Analyses of Natural Resource Issues (MS requirement)