Monday, August 3, 2015

Dr. Eric Jamelske on Guest Speakers

The phrase “could not have said it better myself” is one of those phrases that on the surface appears to be solely complimentary but deep down often times contains a hidden truth. For instance, I might say after listening to a lecture on quantum mechanics that I “could not have said it better myself,” for the very distinct reason that I could not have said anything at all about quantum mechanics. The world is so dense with knowledge that we rarely can say anything “better ourselves” except for maybe the discipline we have specialized in and what we would like for dinner. Dr. Eric Jamelske, Department of Economics, embraces this truth, and seeks out guest lecturers for areas in his course that are not his direct specialty.

In the classes that I teach that are naturally interdisciplinary—like Health Economics or Environmental Economics—I try to get guest speakers to talk about the components I know less about. For instance, I will get a chemistry professor to talk about the science of climate change, or a philosophy professor to talk about environmental ethics. Being trained public speakers, we can all pool together resources and give a presentation on any topic, but if you don’t own it, or are not passionate about it, it’s not as effective as if you were to get an expert on the material. I’ve had great success reaching out to other faculty and community speakers to come in and present on special subjects, and it really enhances the course. I think faculty are very open to the idea and all you have to do is find the right person for it.

Interview by: Jon Pumper

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