UPCOMING classes: 

Dr. Zita is teaching in MES (Masters in Environmental Studies) starting in 2018-2019

Fall 2018: Science and Politics: Local Solutions to Environmental Problems 

Many key environmental decisions are made at the local level by city councils, planning committees, and port commissions. This course explores the intersection of science, economics, and public engagement in local environmental policy. How do policymakers recognize the conflicting interests of multiple stakeholders in their decision-making process? How do they incorporate scientific models—especially those that involve conflicting evidence or uncertain predictions—into their decisions? How can interested citizens and professionals most effectively influence environmental policy? How can local environmental challenges become opportunities that strengthen communities and economies? We will examine such questions through examples in Thurston County, e.g.sea level rise, other local water and land issues, and carbon reduction proposals.

Winter 2019:  Ecological and Social Sustainability

The second program in the core sequence examines sustainability at theoretical and practical levels. We will examine how sustainability is understood from multiple perspectives, emphasizing systems thinking and complexity theory at regional, national, and global scales. Students will develop a foundation in climate science, development theory, and energy policy to help them assess current strategies of climate mitigation and adaptation. Seminars, lectures, and workshops will help students refine their critical thinking, writing, discussion, and presentation skills. By the end of the quarter, each student will produce a professional quality research paper (candidacy paper) and presentation based on current scholarship. Candidacy is outlined in the student handbook .

Winter-Spring 2019: MES Thesis

To complete their degree, MES students are required to complete a 16 credit thesis. Students are assigned a faculty mentor or “reader” in fall quarter of their second year. Each reader is assigned a CRN (course reference number) for Winter quarter and a different CRN for Spring quarter, and students will be notified of their reader’s CRN by email from the MES office prior to registration for each quarter.  Students will take eight thesis credits each quarter. In addition to the thesis, students are required to attend an evening thesis workshop, which is usually offered on occasional Tuesday or Thursday evenings throughout the Winter and Spring quarters.  Students will be notified of exact details during Fall quarter. See our Thesis Resources page for more information.

RECENT Teaching:

Science Seminar: the Universe and You: Spring 2018 

We will read books and articles on cosmology and science, critical thinking and our place in the universe.  We will explore the beauty and power of quantitative reasoning. Students will gain a deeper physical understanding of the natural world. We will share our wonder and insights, ideas and questions about our readings and the universe. Students will write short essays and responses to peers’ essays. Students will meet with teams weekly to discuss developing understanding and skills.Learning goals include deeper understanding of physics, nature and the scientific method; more sophisticated skills as science-literate citizens; and improved writing, critical thinking, teamwork, and communication.

 

Earth Dynamics: People, Place, Technology, and History: Winter 2018

This program will examine changes in the Earth system, human understanding of those changes, and the history of technological efforts to enhance human flourishing and shape our impacts on the environment. We’ll study multiple drivers of climate change such as Sun-Earth interactions, volcanoes, industry, consumption, and greenhouse gases. We’ll consider the changing role of science in providing the understanding required for people and planet to thrive together. Students will learn about the history of technology, from the wheel to the internet, and particularly how technological advances shaped values and habits of everyday life in the United States over the last 200 years. We will ask whether and how modern consumer societies are uniquely positioned to hasten and/or slow the rate at which resource use drives the ecosystem. Is global warming simply a disaster, or does it also present an opportunity for global cooperation? How do we adapt in the face of the most dramatic change to the Earth system in recorded history? How can we develop skills and language to think in creative and effective ways about these dynamics, and share what we learn with others? Scientific methods and historical studies will inform each other and provide new tools for thinking about and taking action in our own historical moment.

Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry: 1996-2018

E.J. Zita (physics) has worked with students on research in astrophysics, energy physics, modeling, organic farming, sustainability, and climate change. Starting in 2014, Zita worked with Judy Cushing and Scott Morgan to establish a new research program at Evergreen. She and Cushing modeled land use impacts on climate change; she and Morgan continue to plan and facilitate sustainability projects on campus.

Rigorous quantitative and qualitative research is an important component of academic learning in Scientific Inquiry. Research opportunities allow science students to work on specific projects associated with faculty members’ expertise. Students typically begin by working in an apprenticeship model with faculty or laboratory staff and gradually take on more independent projects within the context of the specific research program as they gain experience. Students can develop vital skills in research design, data acquisition and interpretation, modeling and theoretical analysis, written and oral communication, collaboration and critical thinking. These are valuable skills for students pursuing a graduate degree or entering the job market.

PAST Teaching: