Statement of Teaching Interests.
Contemporary America and other countries around the world are making increasingly complex decisions regarding the relationship of mankind to the rest of the natural world. With the end of Cold War and establishment of virtually unrestrained economic ties between various countries science in general, and chemistry in particular, are called on to promote economic development, bring improvements in quality of human life and ensure the protection of natural resources and environment. Such decision making is usually done based on the recommendations of specially appointed panels of science experts, convened to advise government leaders on the matters of science policy. In the true democracy however, this process is meaningless unless government leaders who make such decisions, and ordinary citizens who elect them, have the requisite understanding and appreciation of the rewards and dangers inherent in application of scientific and technological discoveries in everyday life. In the United States, liberal arts colleges, and primarily undergraduate institutions, provide the fundamental science education for many future decision makers. It is essential for an educator in such an institution to make sure that scientific subjects are taught with strong emphasis on promoting students ability to apply newly acquired knowledge to understanding of intimate workings of nature. Students must also develop the ability to convert such an understanding into wise decision-making whenever the matters of science impact on the community of man are concerned.
Therefore, I intend to teach chemistry by illustrating the principles of structure, stability and reactivity of molecules with numerous pertinent examples from current scientific concerns of society at large. For example, mechanistic chemistry will be discussed in relation to the need for detailed knowledge of reaction intermediates and by-products since they tend to find their way into the environment along with the intended major product. Physical principles behind our current understanding of stability of reactive molecules (ions, radicals etc.) will be illustrated with examples of such species arising from interaction of natural and man-made chemicals with the DNA molecules. Discussion of the interaction of molecules with radiation may be accompanied by analysis of the effects of ultraviolet light on the fate of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) in the upper region of Earth's atmosphere. Presently, I have implemented these principles in designing a course called "Women, Radiation Science and Society"(IDNM 309), to be offered in Spring 2000 to science and non-science majors at Towson as a part of the Category IIA.2 (Science, Technology and Modern Society) offerings of the General Education requirement. The course will allow students to appreciate the importance of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation in science and medicine and at the same time develop an awareness of ethical concerns associated with its use, with particular emphasis on it's impact on women's lives.
Most importantly, I intend to emphasize the need for a student to incorporate scientific knowledge with that acquired in traditional liberal arts courses, since such a combination is the only guarantee of a good understanding of and interaction with the natural world. Students must be made aware of all-too-numerous examples of damage inflicted on nature and individual human beings and communities by scientific policies that were based solely on "rational" and "statistically indisputable" arguments.