Why I Teach

A wise professor once told me that the odds of any individual making a significant, direct impact on society were quite small. He then argued that my greatest potential for effecting change would be through teaching and guiding students so that they may, one day, change the world in an important way. This has fueled my passion for teaching about our planet, its complex environmental and social problems and how to generate solutions to those problems. This process requires us to remove the blinders of single disciplinary learning through collaborative hands-on, project-based experiences.  The laboratory, College greenhouse, local forest and a community in Costa Rica are among our classrooms. Community members and diverse stakeholders become our teachers. This allows us to explore our fundamental connections to the natural world, how to understand and effect change and to forge a path towards a sustainable future. That wise professor was actually correct! My students are changing the world through their engagement in community and as they have become graduate students, Peace Corps volunteers, activists, professors, physicians, environmental lawyers, eco-entrepreneurs, scientists and teachers.


-Rich Niesenbaum PhD