Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spring Semester 2010: Week One

I'm sitting at my dining table with the wide expanse of weekend before me and a mug of coffee beside me. The Scarlatti sonata (D major) only adds to this good Saturday morning feeling of anticipation.

What shall I do this weekend? How will I spend my time? The answer is always a lot of writing and errands, with a little bit of fun thrown in.

I have yet to figure out this weekend's "little bit of fun" but I am thinking about how to organize my time. But first, I'm reflecting on this week's classes. The semester started on Tuesday; each day this week revealed something new about the classes and students I will work with this term.

I'm teaching two interdisciplinary courses for this term - one fits under the university's Knowledge and Inquiry track (think science) and the other under the Ethics and Social Responsibility track.

The science course is focused on biodiversity - I'm teaching it with a plant ecologist, and we're focusing it on Costa Rica since it is part of a sequence of 5 courses that culminates with our students working on a capstone project in Costa Rica this summer.

I'm responsible for raising issues of environmental ethics (and some philosophy of science, perhaps) in the course, while my co-instructor will teach them how to do science. Of course, the actual breakdown will be somewhat more blurred and we'll share some of these responsibilities. The class is a bit on the quiet side, but Thursday's discussion was more animated. Perhaps the 8 am start time has some impact on this? I'm already playing with ideas to generate more participation...

The ethics course is focused on social research ethics - we've already had some lively discussions in class, and I predict that this will continue through the semester. This course takes a look at various social science experiments and practices and evaluates them through the lens of best practices in research. We focus mostly on research involving human subjects, but we also take a look at animal research practices.

The other course I'm teaching is my passion - Bioethics and the Deaf Community seminar. It has an almost full enrollment and I've moved from worrying about whether the class will go to trying to figure out how to modify the syllabus to make sure that we can get all the presentations and other activities in. This is not such a bad thing to deal with at all. The class is a good mix of hard and soft science majors, culture studies and philosophy majors/minors. The topics in this course always prompt lively discussion - I have no reason to see that this will change.

So, the anticipation of the semester - what will it look like? What will we all learn? What will I discover about myself as a teacher? All To Be Determined.

As for the weekend? Well, next up after blogging and coffee and breakfast is creating my To Do list. Time to get a jump on things while the day is still young!

No comments: