Our teaching philosophy is based upon the four major principles of QUALITY, DIVERSITY, PASSION, and ENGAGEMENT. We strive to live these values by increasing quality and rigor in classroom and field courses, increasing diversity in instructional narratives and diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the student body, expressing passion for our chosen field by wearing our hearts on our sleeves, and always working to improve student engagement – “Engage, engage, engage!” – through teaching, advising, research and artistic activities, program development, and student leadership development.
BASIC SOIL SCIENCE (SOIL 2125)
This course is an introductory soil science course which introduces students to all fundamental aspects of soil science in a lecture-discussion-laboratory format. In this class, we approach soil as a natural system worthy of study in its own right. Soil Science is a terrific Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) integrator. Because complex biological, chemical and physical processes affect the way soils form and the way that they are managed, we use first principles from biology, chemistry and physics to understand them.
Many people have only had the chance to interact with the top six inches of soil and think all soil looks the same. In reality, soils are highly diverse and once you know a little bit about soils and their diversity, it is difficult to find a "boring" place on earth ever again. In this class, we approach soil as a natural system worthy of study in its own right. Because complex biological, chemical and physical processes affect the way soils form and the way that they are managed, we will use first principles from biology, chemistry and physics to understand them. In a very real sense, we are all made up of soil and our lives, communities, and cultures depend on our understanding of it.
We conducted a survey of introductory soil science or equivalent (ISSe) instructors and courses at 79 institutions differing in land- grant status (38 land-grant, 41 non-land-grant) and Carnegie category. Our data demonstrates little evidence for curricular differences between land-grant and non- land-grant institutions. A “depth” ranking of topical components of these courses showed that soil water concepts and soil classification were allotted the most time, on average. Pedagogical styles were diverse, with 44% of course hours dedicated to active learning, flipped classroom, or online learning formats.
FIELD STUDY OF SOILS - MINNESOTA
SOILS & LAND USE (SOIL 4511)
SOIL 4511 is a field-based course that teaches students how to describe soil profiles and associated landscape characteristics. Class are taught in the field all day, every day and will culminate in a field exam where students will be expected to accurately describe soil profiles and make certain land-use interpretations.
Minnesota Soils and Land Use: Growing Hearts and Minds
Interacting with practitioners and understanding multiple, contradictory, and complex perspectives is an important skill for effectively managing terrestrial resources in the 21st century. Following the completion of a week-long field study course in which students gain skills in soil description, classification, and interpretation, the expanded second module of the course includes a traveling component in which students experience soils, landscapes, and “lifescapes” (i.e., the lived experiences of practitioners).
SOIL JUDGING (SOIL 3521)
Soil Judging is a field course and inter-collegiate contest which allows students to learn and apply skills in soil morphological description, soil classification, and interpretation in field settings across the U.S. Each semester, the University of Minnesota soil judging team travels to a different state for a week to participate in an intercollegiate contest. Preparation for the contest continues throughout the year, with weekly team meetings. Since 2015, the UMN Soil Judging team has safely and successfully traveled to Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Florida, and California. Soil Judging is more than just soils. It is also about learning how to become better people and teammates, building technical skills, and building community with students across the country.
PODCAST: SOIL STORIES WITH NIC AND LEANNA
Soil Stories with Nic and Leanna is a podcast developed for SOIL 2125 (Basic Soil Science) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities starting on 18MAR2020 in response to the move to remote instruction for all classes due to COVID-19 policies recently enacted. These podcasts might have guests, or might be us just chatting about interesting applications of the material or key points. This will be a new adventure.