Earth Ethics Institute Like most teachers, Miami Dade College ethics and philosophy professor Sarah Jacob knows the challenge of maintaining the attention of a classroom full of busy students. But Jacob, a London native and full-time professor at MDC, West Campus addressed that issue by taking her critical thinking/ethics class to the Everglades for an experiential- learning excursion. “The difference in the reaction from our students was huge,” Jacob said. “In class, students learn environmental ethics as a theory. But when they experience the Everglades, that theory comes to life. Nature inspires curiosity.” Since environmental degradation is a contemporary ethical concern, the Everglades trip was a natural fit. “I wanted our students to have access to this beautiful, natural environment and to understand the importance of a healthy ecosystem,” said Jacob, who planned her trip in conjunction with the MDC Earth Ethics Institute’s Global Sustainability and Earth Literacy Studies (GSELS) learning network. “The link between the Everglades and the supply of fresh water was emphasized with our students.” Jacob, working with guide Haniel Pulido, said that at one point, the class saw an alligator resting place where about 50 of the reptiles bathed in the sun. “It was a beautiful experience,” Jacob said. “Once we were outdoors, the students quickly realized how good they felt. “This kind of engaged pedagogy helps fulfill MDC’s Learning Outcomes as the students think critically about social responsibility and environmental concerns.” Jacob will host three excursions for her latest class, including an Everglades at Night tour. In addition, students will tour Covanta, one of the world’s largest providers of energy from waste. The third excursion will be to visit French’s Organic Farm in Homestead. “Our students will get their hands dirty and learn the difference between industrial and organic farms,” Jacob said. “When you do these excursions, the lesson has a greater impact.” – WV
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