Teaching is like tending to a forest. I believe this organic metaphor best captures my teaching philosophy as it emphasizes an ecosystem approach where tree and forest are understood as intrinsically connected, each enriching the other.  At the same time, both are grounded in and representative of a larger world ecosystem. As a teacher, I work with the understanding that students, like trees in a forest, are free and active agents, each individually different, yet all rooted within some contextual soil. The hope for growth is an interactive effort, and the teacher’s role is primarily to encourage students to flourish along side each other so that eventually within the larger community, each one is relatively self-sustaining, and eventually sustenance for others.


Introduction to Environmental Humanities
Environmental Film
Environmental Writing (with a focus on Journalism)
Food and Environmental Sustainability (First-year Seminar; Senior Seminar)
Natural Catastrophes and Geologic Hazards

Looking to do some research?  Here are examples from students who have worked with me on cool research projects.

Senior Honors Theses

Micaela conducting field work in Adams County, PA.

Micaela Edelson, 2017. Senior Honors Thesis: “Cultural and Technical Risk Associated with Pesticide Exposure of Migrant Workers in Adams County, Pennsylvania.” Micaela, who is an ES and Public Policy double major won an EPA-GRO grant to conduct this project, which compares cultural (or perceived) risk of pesticide exposure with the technical (or scientifically and officially determined) human health risk associated with current pesticide practices. Micaela interviewed local farm workers and farmers, as well as reviewed pesticide data from sites like the EPA and USDA to identify where risks align, where they differ, and what strategies might assist with risk communication to ensure migrant labor safety.  Micaela is author (with myself and Prof. Rud Platt) of the subsequent peer reviewed article in the Journal for Agriculture, Food, and Community Development. Read a Gettysburg news story about Micaela here.  Thanks in part to her exceptional work, Micaela was also awarded a Fulbright grant to attend the University of Leeds in the U.K., where she will be doing a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies.

Elizabeth Cooper, 2017. Senior Honors Thesis: “Social Implications of Community Gardening in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.” (co-advisor, Dr. Monica Ogra). Lizzy, an ES and Latin American Studies double-major explored how the campus farm, the Painted Turtle Farm, is working to provide social benefits for 16 migrant families who use it.  While her research involved interviewing, surveying, and working on the farm with the families, she also documented her experience with some lovely photographs, some of which she premiered for the families at the Painted Turtle Farm in April 2017.

Dori Gorcyzca, 2015. Senior Honors Thesis: “Is it Hot Out There? Climate Change in Glacier National Park, Montana.” (co-advisor, Dr. Sarah Principato).  Dori, who is an ES and History double major, worked on a digital humanities project that involved constructing an online, interactive website that shares information about Glacier National Park’s rapidly melting glaciers.  In using Glacier National Park as her case study, Dori’s broader objective was to test this virtual method of climate change communication.  To design her website, Dori not only familiarized herself with online web tools and climate communication scholarship but she also employed her Earth Sciences knowledge as she worked with my glacial geologist colleague Sarah Principato to visualize some of the scientific data on the Park’s glaciers. Here’s a nice journalistic piece on the college website about Dori and her research. And, the study is published in The Handbook of Climate Change Communication Vol 3: Case Studies (editors Walter Leal Filho et al).: Monani, Salma, Sarah Principato, Dori Gorcyzca, and Elizabeth Cooper. “Loving Glacier National Park Online: Climate Change Communication and Virtual Place Attachment” (2017, Springer Press). There’s also this publication, Dori Gorcyzca, Salma Monani, and Sarah Principato. “The Melting ‘Crown of the Continent’: Visual History of Glacier National Park” in Arcadia.

Emily, at a local food policy event exhibiting some of the photovoice images related to her research.

Emily Constantian, 2013. Senior Honors Thesis: “The Food Gap: One Rural Community Responds.” Emily researched our local county’s initiatives to fight food insecurity. As part of her project she produced an informational video on the food gap, a condition individuals suffer as they begin to make enough money to disqualify them from acquiring government food aid but not enough to actually afford healthy and nutritious food. As part of her research, Emily also co-authored a collaborative research paper published in the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, (you can read it by clicking on this link!) and assisted with a journalistic piece written by ES major Athena Mandros (2013) in The Gettysburg Times. Emily completed a Master’s in Education at Harvard University in Boston.

Brian Kelley, 2010. Senior Honors Thesis: “Exploring intersections between wilderness and environmental filmmaking.” Brian contextualizes and reflects on the process of making his documentary, On the Fence, about wildlife-human conflict in Botswana. Filmed while on a semester abroad with SIT, On the Fence involved a year and half worth of effort from pre-production research to post-production editing and reflecting on audience responses.  Read about Brian’s award winning work!

Independent studies

Huanjia Zhang, 2017.  Independent project Spring 2017.  Huanjia is a Biology major who discovered a passion for science communication.  He worked on developing these skills in science communication through an independent project that has at its heart a blog page, which he hopes to continue working on when he graduates.  As he learned to navigate the art of science writing, audio recording, and film production, he investigated bats.  You can learn more about the project and Huanjia’s passions in this news story that was showed on the Gettysburg homepage.

Becca (2nd from left) leading a field trip for the 2014 FY Seminar class at the Cherry Hill garden, Baltimore.

Rebecca Coorg, 2014. Independent project Spring 2014.  As a senior Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies double major, Rebecca’s passion was food studies.  She worked on a project examining the urban farm movement in Baltimore.  She was especially interested in considering how this movement might fit in a post-industrial narrative of the city, and what the implications of such a movement both locally and in the framework of global industrialized agriculture might mean. Read about her 450 project on the college’s Cupola and check out her current research conducted as part of her current PhD in Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Eric Harris, 2015. Independent internship Summer 2013. As a Heston Intern with Campus Kitchens here in Gettysburg, Eric worked on an oral history project that explored the food experiences, past and present, of senior citizens served by the program.  His final paper was a comparison of this experience to food systems as they impact senior citizens in Denmark, where he did his semester abroad.

Natasha Eulberg, 2014. Independent project Fall 2012. Tasha attended the ImagineNATIVE 2012 film festival in Toronto where she combined her interests in environmental studies and anthropology to reflect on indigenous film as it engages environmental issues.

Sara Tower, 2012. Summer research 2010: “Just Food? A Community Rethinks Sustainability.” Sara began the important process of documenting the extent and participants within the local foods movement in Adams County. Her research was presented to the Adams County Food Policy Council to assist them with evaluating their next policy steps.

Becky Swerida, 2010. Work study research: Documenting and categorizing environmental film festivals, which was essential to a chapter I wrote on film festival studies for the collection, Ecocinema Theory and Practice. Becky also helped get the Ecomedia Studies web presence off the ground with assistance with the website.