An informal conversation about interdisciplinary teaching on environmental issues

Meet, Greet, Teach is an evening series offering students, postdocs, staff and faculty with an interest in engaging in artful, interactive, innovative teaching a chance to interact with colleagues from across campus who are willing to share their enthusiasm and experience.  Over a glass of wine and light appetizers, attendees have a chance to mix and mingle before settling down to a 30-minute “fast panel” of three to five faculty, each delivering thought- and conversation-provoking answers.

Past Meet, Greet, Teach topics

Science Identity – Want to Be What You See?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

If middle school students “know” that scientists are white males who wear lab coats and do dangerous experiments, what science identities do undergraduates harbor?  Do women or people of color do science differently?  Or, teach it differently?

If you’re not a STEM student, can you still have a science identity?

What are we (or could we be) doing in the classroom to empower all students to participate as science-literate citizens of the world and active members of the science team, whether they choose a career in STEM or not?

Join us as our faculty panelists give their perspectives and experiences on how to promote science for everyone, and science by everyone.

Panelists include:

  • Ann Culligan, Lecturer, Psychology
  • Cole DeForest, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering
  • Heather Heinz, Lecturer, Sciences and Math (UW Tacoma)
  • Sara MacKenzie, Senior Lecturer, Health Services

Expanding the Science Team

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2015 that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – STEM – collectively accounted for only 6% of the U.S. workforce.

Is science a pursuit of the smart, the privileged and the wealthy?  Or is science something that everyone can do?  And more to the point, can we present science in ways that are attractive to everyone?  Could an R1 university of the future create open science that was truly open to all?  What might that look like?  And can we teach that?  (How) could university students and the public create better science – both discovery and solutions?

Citizen science, community-based science, extreme science, participatory action research — these are all forms of engaging non-professional, mostly unpaid volunteers (aka the rest of us) in the scientific endeavor, from gaming protein design to crowd-sourcing African mammal photo identification to bringing down the Flint water authority with irrefutable evidence of lead pollution.

Join us as our faculty panelists give their perspectives and experiences on what happens when we open the gates of the ivory tower and invite everyone to join the science team.

Panelists include:

  • Philip Bell, Professor, College of Education
  • Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Assistant Professor, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs
  • Jennifer Otten, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Occupational Health
  • Gregory Wilson, Associate Professor, Biology

Thinking Like a Scientist
Monday, November 13, 2017

“Are you born knowing how to set up an experiment, create a hypothesis, ask a question, or even just see a pattern?  Is wondering about how the world works a personality trait, or is it learned?  Does thinking like a scientist make you one?  Or should society generally embrace inquisitive, information-literacy as a right and responsibility for all of its members?  How can we teach curiosity and positive skepticism

Guest facilitator: Rick Keil, Director, Program on the Environment

Panelists include:

  • Ginger Armbrust, Director, School of Oceanography
  • Carrie Tzou, Associate Professor, School of Education Studies (UW Bothell)
  • Carl Bergstrom, Professor, Biology
  • Rob Wood, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences; Associate Dean, College of the Environment

Expanding the Universe | Braiding the Path

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

facilitated by Kerry-Ann Naish, professor, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Can non-Western ways play a role in expanding science education? How might we weave together multiple starting points to create a greater, integrated whole?

Join us as a number faculty who are attempting an indigenous-western integration speak about their experiences in moving worlds closer together.


  • Ernesto Alvarado-Celestin, Associate Professor, Environmental & Forest Sciences
  • Alex Gagnon, Assistant Professor, Oceanography
  • Sara Gonzalez, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
  • Kristin Laidre, Oceanographer, Applied Physics Lab

Bridge to Somewhere

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017

Join us for “Bridge to Somewhere,” the first Meet, Greet, Teach of the 2016-2017 academic year, where we will look at the varied ways faculty across the UW campus are providing meaningful mentoring to students in the context of (inter)disciplinary “spaces” for students to turn classroom learning into real world practice and sample their own career futures.

Can a high-powered science degree get a graduating student a job? Or do they actually need marketable skills that reach beyond the disciplinary ones?

Do strong grades prove that a student can be effective in their career next steps? Or should students also have the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills into practice?

And if millennials really are the “internship generation,” in what ways can we meet that challenge if mentoring is a one-on-one interaction?


  • Jan Newton, assistant professor, Oceanography
  • P. Sean McDonald, lecturer, Program on the Environment
  • Daniel Winterbottom, professor, Landscape Architecture
  • Deborah Hinchey, clinical instructor, Health Services

Gaming for Good

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why are the birds angry? Could it be because being lobbed at towers in the service of annihilating evil pigs isn’t advancing the cause of science literacy?

If they could, would the plants revolt and threaten to keep their fruit rather than have it used to dissuade legions of zombies?

And what kind of world gets saved when duty calls?

With over 2 billion people using smartphones worldwide, 84% of American households owning at least one computer, and nearly one in 10 young gamers addicted to video games, isn’t it time to go viral with apps that advance environmental science, environmental studies and environmental justice?

Come hear five faculty from across the university discuss how to create games for good, from visualization to coding to how the world can (or might!) change.

Got an app for that?


  • David Baker, Professor, Biochemistry; Director, Institute for Protein Design
  • Dargan Frierson, Associate Professor, Atmospheric Sciences
  • Joshua Lawler, Associate Professor, Environmental and Forest Sciences
  • Jaime Snyder, Assistant Professor, Information School
  • Kate Starbird, Assistant Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering

Teaching in Context

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why don’t students remember the fundamentals? Or maybe, why aren’t the fundamentals memorable?

Are we experiencing an epidemic of missed connections? Can lived experience, cultural context, and disciplinary constructs create a bridge between what we want students to enter our classrooms knowing and where we want to take them?


  • Charlotte Coté, Associate Professor, American Indian Studies
  • Stephen Gardiner, Professor, Philosophy; Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of Human Dimensions of the Environment
  • Anitra Ingalls, Associate Professor, Oceanography

Be Quiet!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In 1975, 40 percent of college students labeled themselves as shy. In 2015, that figure had risen to almost 50 percent. STEM has always been labeled as the refuge for reclusive, geeky brainiacs who would rather do math than talk to strangers. In a world fraught with environmental and social justice issues, can timidity conquer temerity?

Is student shyness a social condition the university community should seek to fix or a natural centering place of calm reflective people who eschew the brasher tendencies of their elders? Is teaching technology helping or exacerbating the situation?  

How can we teach, reach, and learn from the student who thinks before speaking, preferring to be the listener and watcher rather than the focus of attention? Can the classroom celebrate instead of accommodate (or tolerate) shyness?

Join us for the first MGT of the 2015-2016 school year as five faculty from around campus share their thoughts and strategies for closing the gap between extrovert and introvert, and opening the door to learning.


  • Brian Fabien, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, College of Engineering; Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Louisa Mackenzie, Associate Professor of French & Graduate Program Coordinator, French & Italian Studies
  • Jennifer Ruesink, Professor, Biology
  • Jesse Oak Taylor, Assistant Professor, English
  • Mark Zachry, Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering

There has been much discussion about teaching introverts in the press recently. Check out these articles and teaching resources:

Wag the Dog?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Does technology set us free; helping students to learn in new ways and saving faculty precious time they can plow back into deepening the learning experience? Or is an excellent instructor someone who can connect students to learning with or without the latest techno innovation? Where does that leave the rest of us?

Join us for a report out from four faculty who chose to dive into the deep end of technology in the classroom as Technology Teaching Fellows and lived to tell the tale.


  • Alexander Horner-Devine, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Mikelle Nuwer, Lecturer, Oceanography
  • Stefan Stoll, Assistant Professor, Chemistry
  • Kristi Straus, Lecturer, Program on the Environment

Power and Privilege in the Classroom

Monday, February 9, 2015

She wore tight tops and ripped jeans. Her hair was in dreads. She had a pierced tongue. When she came, she sat in the back with her racial clique, and never raised her hand. She didn’t linger to ask questions but always hurried out of the classroom.

He sat in front and paid attention. I knew he was a student senator. When I posed questions, he was always ready with an answer so of course I called on him. He dressed nicely without being too fussy. And yes, he was white, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?

What they wear. Where they sit. How fast they respond. Whether they look at you, or away from you. If they are late, or miss class. Whether they slouch. If they stay after to ask questions. Whether they volunteer. If they smile. When they raise their hand first. Because they look interested.

When the socio-cultural landscape comes into the classroom, what is the responsibility of the instructor to level the playing field? Who do you spend time on? What is an affirmation of the status quo, and what pushes back?

Join a special Meet, Greet, Teach and combined Conversation on Defining Diversity as we examine our role, our power, and our responsibility to create a learning environment that says no to bias, stereotypes, and micro-aggressions.


  • Megan Bang, Assistant Professor, Education
  • JW Harrington, Professor, Urban Studies, Geography
  • Billie Swalla, Professor, Biology; Director, Friday Harbor Laboratories
  • Anu Taranath, Senior Lecturer, English, Comparative History of Ideas

Aha! Teaching for Transformation

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Does learning happen in a slow, steady fashion, or do students make advances in big, unpredictable leaps?  Or are they predictable?

That transformative moment when concept, activity and skill set come together; that moment when lucidity outweighs confusion; that moment when insight and innovation push memorization (and boredom!) aside.

What makes for a lightbulb moment? Can you dial up epiphanies in the classroom? Is it something that only certain students experience or can we make transformation go viral?

Join us for a discussion of whether we can create Aha! moments in the classroom, and if so, how.


  • Jim Pfaendtner, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering
  • Tom Quinn, Professor, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
  • Jennifer Taggart, Senior Lecturer, Mathematics
  • Daniel Winterbottom, Professor, Landscape Architecture

Teaching Failure

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Can the failure to teach reaching success from failure become our own teaching failure?

We teach students that science starts with an hypothesis, and ends with a peer-reviewed publication detailing successful experiments. That is, scientists are über-smart people who always know the answer in advance, and never make mistakes. Really?

What happened to exploration of a problem, adaptive management to hone an idea, reflection on whether the approach is appropriate, learning from mistakes. Shouldn’t we teach failure in order to affect success?

Join us for a discussion of how and why teaching failure can make a difference to student learning.


  • Ginger Armbrust, Professor and Director, Oceanography
  • Lauren Buckley, Assistant Professor, Biology
  • Juliet Crider, Assistant Professor and Program Director, Applied Geosciences, Earth & Space Sciences
  • Dominic Muren, Lecturer, Industrial Design & Interaction Design
  • Brian Polagye, Research Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Co-Director, Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center

Making a Difference?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Only 27 percent of college students end up in careers reflecting their disciplinary degree. For the environment side of natural science, it’s 48 percent. The average person changes careers two to three times.

Is a laser focus on disciplinary knowledge and associated skill sets a wise academic choice; one that gives students all of the tools they’ll need to be successful? What about the career, professional, and life skills—the essentials that no course teaches? Effective communication, team-based experience, organizing, leadership, listening, connecting and networking, visioning, creating a clear idea, selling it. The list is long.

Join us for a discussion of how and why blending essential skills into coursework can make a difference to student learning.


  • Emer Dooley, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Foster School of Business
  • Francesca Lo, Director, Husky Leadership Initiative
  • Sean McDonald, Lecturer/Capstone Instructor, Program on the Environment; Research Scientist, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
  • Jennifer Turns, Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering

Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can’t Teach: Does learning STEM mean you can teach it?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Some voices loudly decry the current middle and high school science teacher community as not in touch with the latest and greatest in STEM. Given that over 1,000 STEM majors graduate from the UW every year, shouldn’t we just slot those students who want to teach into open K-12 positions?

Join 4 panelists drawn from across the UW and Seattle City Schools as they share their experience and opinion on this issue of what the future of STEM learning and teaching could, and should, be inside and outside of the ivory tower.

  • Rachel Finley, Science Teacher, Garfield High School
  • Liz Nesbitt, Director, Masters in Science for Science Teachers Program; Curator, Burke Museum; Associate Professor, Earth & Space Sciences
  • LuAnne Thompson, Director, Program on Climate Change; Professor, Oceanography
  • Mark Windschitl, Professor, Science Education, College of Education

Inclusion or Exclusion? Where is Diversity in Science?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How can a science course also be a diversity course? Is it possible? If so, how? If not, what are the impediments and what does that practically mean for how students experience the intersection of science and diversity issues? Are we really going to maintain the “science is blind because it is about truth” mentality?

Come join us for our first Meet, Greet, Teach of the year. Our panelists are:

  • Thomas Ackerman, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences; Director, Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
  • Sapna Cheryan, Assistant Professor, Psychology
  • Kerry Naish, Associate Professor, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Death of Art, Death of Science
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can the totally rational, reductionist environmental scientist really understand the world without the creativity of music, visual art, dance, or poetry? Can the artist attempting to capture the archetype of environmental loss create a richer tableau by knowing something about how the physical world works? If society, or a university undergoing budget cuts, slashes one side, will the other be poorer?

We learn, and teach, that art and science are worlds apart. The right and left brains. Rigorous versus creative. Absinthe versus beer. Or should we reconsider that thesis?

Join us for the final MGT of the year for provocative comments from artists and scientists on how our worlds collide, even as the ships pass.


  • Richard Karpen, Director, School of Music
  • Philip Govedare, Professor, Painting & Drawing, School of Art
  • Bruce Nelson, Professor, Earth & Space Sciences
  • Jennifer Bean, Director, Cinema and Media Studies

The Sublime and the Beautiful

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Can environment be understood in more than scientific terms? If humanities captures the imagination, the creative mind, and the dreams of society, what does science stimulate?  And what would happen if a course crossed the science-humanities divide?

Join us for a culture clash MGT as four faculty from across the humanities and natural sciences consider the inherent contradiction of teaching environment.


  • Juliet Crider, Assistant Professor, Earth and Space Sciences; Program Director, Applied Geosciences
  • Linda Nash, Associate Professor, History
  • Richard Watts, Associate Professor, French; Chair, French and Italian Studies
  • Aaron Wirsing, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Forest Sciences

How Big is Your Data?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How big is your data? Can your students grok it? In an era when datasets are mushrooming, the cloud is ever expanding, and environmental science is in dire need of multidisciplinary, real world information to document and address global change; how do we bring students to the party?

Can “big data” make them more aware, make them care more? Or is an onslaught of information more likely to create overload? Where is the balance between ownership and understanding?

Join us for MGT: How Big is Your Data? where we’ll hear from 4 faculty members who are convincing their students to dive headfirst into datasets larger than any one student could ever collect.


  • Andrew Connolly, Professor, Astronomy
  • Miles Logsdon, Senior Lecturer, Oceanography
  • James Lutz, Research Scientist, Environmental & Forest Sciences
  • Daniela Witten, Associate Professor, Biostatistics; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Statistics; Affiliate Investigator, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center

Eat and Learn

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Who has it and who doesn’t? Who grows it and who sells it? Should individual buyers, industrial conglomerates, or world governments be able to dictate food choice? How diversity is maintained and what happens on the farm and in the market if it isn’t?

Food is so much more than sustenance. Food is an ultimate environmental issue. Is food the next nexus of academics at the UW? Should environmental hot buttons like food become 21st century rallying points for academic education?

Come join us for MGT: Eat and Learn, a discussion of whether and how this most central of sustainability topics should also be integrated across the living-learning landscape that is the UW.


  • Kima Cargill, Associate Professor of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW-Tacoma
  • Chris Jaehne, Assistant Director for Residential Life, Housing & Food Services
  • Donna Johnson, Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences; Associate Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition
  • Sarah Reichard, Professor, Environmental and Forest Sciences; Director, UW Botanic Gardens


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Massive open, online courses, or MOOCs. Are they the vanguard of a new education future that breaks down the bricks and mortar of the ivory tower or a slippery slope that degrades higher education to the lowest possible denominator? Can online replace hands-on in STEM education? Can you really experience the environment on your computer?


  • Matthew Sparke, Professor, Geography and International Studies; Adjunct Professor, Global Health (creating an online course)
  • David Szatmary, Vice Provost, UW Educational Outreach (national leader in online education)
  • Robert Winglee, Professor and Chair, Earth & Space Sciences; Director, Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium (department leader in online education)
  • Robert Wood, Associate Professor, Atmospheric Sciences (has questions about MOOCs)

The Art and Science of Science Journalism

Friday, May 11, 2012

How are radical changes in the news industry and the information ecosystem presenting challenges and opportunities for the scientific community to share their work with the wider world?


  • Lynda Mapes, Environmental Reporter, The Seattle Times
  • Chris Mooney, Journalist, “Science Progress” blog and Point of Inquiry Podcast
  • Michael Todd, Online Editor, Miller-McCune

Icanhascheezburger canyouteachenvironment?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Everyone’s talking about social media, but using it in teaching is harder than it sounds. Join three creative, edgy, digital world faculty for their experiences and opinions on going viral in the classroom.


  • Dargan Frierson, Assistant Professor, Atmospheric Sciences
  • Richard Karpen, Director, School of Music
  • Josh Tewksbury, Walker Endowed Professor of Natural History; Professor, Biology

Envisioning Ecopocalypse

Monday, January 30, 2012

Global climate change, over harvest, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, environmental justice, resource scarcity, sustainability, and the demands of 7 billion people. These are the environmental issues we throw at our students. How do we explore the complexities of environmental issues without leaving our students faced with the tidal wave of nihilism? What fraction of our class time should we spend on environmental solutions? Really, what are there solutions? How can we maintain optimism in a classroom of realism?


  • David Battisti, Professor, Atmospheric Sciences
  • Joyce Cooper, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Adjunct Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Lauren Hartzell Nichols, Acting Assistant Professor, Program on Values in Society, Philosophy and Program on Environment
  • Michael Kucher, Associate Professor, History of Technology and the Environment, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Get it Write!

Monday, December 5, 2011

In a fast-changing world where most of our students won’t go on to be academics, what is the “right” writing? How much of it do students need to succeed? Can one course serve many or do we need specialized writing courses?


  • Kathy Kohm, Editor, Conservation Magazine
  • Patti Loesche, Lecturer, Psychology and Director, Psychology Writing Center
  • Tom Quinn, Professor, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • John Webster, Associate Professor, English and Director of Writing, Arts and Sciences

Science that Matters

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why do so many natural science majors wait until their senior year to take physics?  What is math phobia?  Can the equations you memorized in organic chemistry help save the planet?  How can you convince a freshman living away from home for the first time that studying biology is more exciting and important than sex and bad beer?  Would more high school students fight to get into STEM programs if there was a real world connection?


  • Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Assistant Professor, Biology
  • Richard Keil, Professor, Oceanography
  • Bruce Nelson, Professor, Earth and Space Science