Published: Jan. 4, 2017

Group of students with Andy Martin (second from right) in the jungle

Group of students with Andy Martin (second from right) in the jungle

Dear Arts & Sciences Faculty,

Sometimes the best place to engage diverse learners is in the field, out in nature, far from the classroom, where learning happens by individuals discovering something in a place they have never been. January is a magical time for me because I spend the beginning of each new year with students from the University of Colorado in the wilderness of Ecuador where each of us can discover things and share the discoveries with each other.

Every time I think about traveling from Colorado to Ecuador it seems so far away and unreal, but when I get there and spend time wandering through tropical cloud forests or watching sea birds tuck and dive into the ocean after prey from extreme heights, any uncertainty I had about traveling to a foreign country dissolves. Instead, I find myself in the center of discovering something new about the world and about myself. Embarking on a journey of discovery when trying out new ways of teaching and creating a classroom where students have the space to become the epistemic focus in their learning is similar, in many ways, to traveling in a foreign country. It is new, you aren’t sure what’s going to happen, and there is always a little uncertainty.  

Welcome to the New Year and congratulations to the 14 new ASSETT Faculty Fellows who are embarking on a journey of discovery. I am certain interesting things will happen, that the experience will be enriching, and that all of us will become better educators and advocates for positive and productive change in the process. Our Spring 2017 calendar is out and I look forward to seeing you all at the Innovation Pit Stops and other community ASSETT events this year.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Martin, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology