NEW ALBANY, Ind. and ORILLIA, Ont. — Dr. James Hollenbeck, professor of education at IU Southeast and a science educator for over 30 years in secondary and post-secondary education, has been named the first Fulbright Research Chair at Lakehead University in Orillia, Ontario, Canada. He will spend the current semester there, conducting research in the areas of scientific literacy and sustainability education.
Assisted by four professors and two students on the two Lakehead campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Hollenbeck will research the application of technology to enhance scientific literacy and problem-solving for learning inquiry. He will also look at the role of technology in new national sciences standards, the potential for teachers of science to network, and new products for science literacy and support services.
“Our team here hopes to discover how to teach our students more effectively, to improve science learning, to enhance students’ understanding of technology, and to promote student science literacy.”
Hollenbeck will also study ways to integrate technology into the teaching of environmental issues and sustainability. This is an interdisciplinary field, he says, integrating the methods and applications of arts and letters, business, education, natural sciences and social sciences. Increasingly, many careers require such a holistic view.
“To really understand this field, students will be challenged to consider the social consequences of climate change, the power dynamics shaping the business and policy landscape, and the philosophical underpinning sand ethical tensions at the heart of debates about how best to respond to current and future challenges to our planet’s resources,” Hollenbeck says.
Hollenbeck has taught in the U.S. and Eastern Europe, and served a Fulbright Scholarship and taught at Sofia University in Sofia, Bulgaria. In addition to frequent travel, he is a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, and a member of the committee on science research of the national Science Teachers Association. He has been nominated for the Chancellor’s award for teaching and research three times while at IU Southeast.
A biologist by training, Hollenbeck cites IU Southeast’s School of Natural Sciences as the foundation for the success of the science education program.
“The IU Southeast School of Natural Sciences is composed of very strong professor-researchers who work with students, encourage them to do research on their own and even include them in their research in many cases,” he says.
As Hollenbeck notes, all secondary science students must carry a minimum GPA of 2.75, and pass a rigorous national examination to earn their teacher certification. “Matching our students in the M301 practicum (pre-student teaching) with experienced master educators, often graduates of our own programs, promotes success for the teacher candidates and their clinical practice.”
For Hollenbeck, the breadth required of science educators is a response to the environmental challenges of our day, which spill over into every aspect of life. Alongside the need for technical acumen, he advocates for a broader paradigm shift that will enable individuals and societies to adopt a more responsible attitude toward stewardship of the planet.
And it all starts in the classroom.
“Science literacy is important at all levels of education,” he says. “Everything we do has science about it, whether we are talking about air quality, water quality, GMOs, weather, or issues in health. Actions in all of these areas require an understanding of science. So science needs to be present in every grade. The science classroom is where people come to read, observe, use math and, most importantly, learn to communicate and seek understanding. If you really want to see eyes light up, bring nature — or the wonderment of science — to the students. It is through observing and questioning that learning begins, and continues through life.”
Dr. James Hollenbeck will deliver the paper, “Science, Technology and Society: A Smart Approach to Interdisciplinary Science Teaching for Tomorrow’s Learners,” at the British Columbia Science Teachers Provincial Conference in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada on October 23. Photograph courtesy of the Lakehead University Office of Media Relations. For more information contact Steven Krolak, academic information officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.