On Friday, March 2, 2012, invited speaker Benjamin Cohen came to the CTLE to talk about the novel pedagogy he has implemented in his classrooms at the University of Virginia and Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, mainly with engineering students.
Cohen aims to engage his students in learning about local foodsheds and environmental initiatives, connecting the college classroom to the surrounding community. Rather than using traditional assignments, he opts for creative, collaborative class projects. One of his classes authored a book rather than writing individual research papers.
Another class constructed a website of podcasts, which investigated various local food topics from farmer’s markets to health food stores to vegetarian diets to composting. They presented at the Charlottesville, Virginia, public library to educate the public on local options for sustainable eating and living.
Cohen’s current students are developing projects related to “the governance of environmental engineering in the Easton, PA, Lehigh Valley, and broader mid-Atlantic region.”
Cohen’s presentation helped us to conceive of novel pedagogical techniques that combine elements of service learning, hands-on problem solving, and projects that result in lasting products rather than term papers or exams that are discarded at the end of the semester.