Associate Professor of Sustainability and Environmental Education
- B.A., Calvin College, 2001
- B.S., Calvin College, 2001
- Ph.D., Rutgers University, 2008
- (260) 799-5869
- Merry Lea
At heart, I’m vitally interested in seeing people develop a relationship of love and knowledge with the land that they live in, on and with. This begins with first steps such as learning a bit about the incredible diversity of different organisms that can be found in their home landscape. It extends to more complex understandings of the ways in which our economic and social decisions affect people and places both nearby and far away. I love learning more about my home landscape and working to improve its quality as a home for people and all other creatures.
I’m interested in the pivotal role of landscapes, both ecologically and in our human manner of thinking. Landscape ecology has been emerging over the last decades as an important bridge between the large-scale patterns traced by ecosystem ecology and the interspecific interactions described by community ecology, and is powerful in part because it is an “actionable” or applied scale of thinking that allows us to design interventions and management that unite insights from these two scales. Ecologically, I’m particularly keen to study how the diversity of native and non-native species interact at the landscape scale, and how our management decisions sway those interactions. Educationally, I’m curious to understand better how expanding students’ and adults’ considerations of landscapes, which are larger in both space and time than we usually consider, helps them to understand the ecological phenomena around them and to understand the importance of their decisions in the here and now.
1) The landscape ecology of rare and invasive plants at Merry Lea
2) Patterns of plant community diversification over time in restored wetlands
3) Changes in students’ articulation of sustainability issues as a result of study abroad
4) Long-term effects of grazing cattle on restored prairie
My courses tend to be very problem-driven and place-based. Content courses like Freshwater Resources in the SLS, Agroecology in the ASI and Natural History of the Southern Great Lakes in the master’s program are focused on synthesizing major scientific concepts in those fields and applying them to issues we see around us “on the ground.” Data collection and observation in the field is a staple of my courses, and we create together models to help us understand how big ideas like biogeochemistry manifest similarly in different habitats around our region. I also teach several courses that are built around students collaborating to solve interdisciplinary problems or use opportunities, such as Sustainability Problem Solving in the SLS, and the Sustainability Capstone for seniors in Goshen’s sustainability-related majors. These allow students to work with a small group of peers and a local community agency, organization or business in designing integrative solutions to local environmental issues. These courses are highly collaborative and student-driven; I see my role very much as being a facilitator and suggestion-provider, rather than a “sage-on-a-stage” with all of the answers. Even the Introduction to Sustainability ends up being a very collaborative experience, beginning with the fact that I co-teach it with my historian friend, Jan Bender Shetler.
What else I enjoy talking about:
plant community ecology
invasive and native plant species topics
sustainability reasoning transitions
student reasoning in biology and ecology
biblical connections to ecological stewardship
- Roberts AJ and JW Schramm. In press. Forest plant composition in patches of varying ages in an intensively farmed landscape. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Sciences.
- Schramm JW, H Jin, EG Keeling, M Johnson and HJ Shin. 2017. Improved student reasoning about carbon-transforming processes through inquiry-based learning activities derived from an empirically validated learning progression. Research in Science Education. DOI:10.1007/s11165-016-9584-0
- L Zinn, JW Schramm and LS Meitzner Yoder. 2014. Towards a deeper understanding of native and introduced species. In: T Grant, editor. Teaching About Invasive Species. Toronto, ON: Green Teacher Publications. p. 7-10.
- Meitzner Yoder LS, T Hartzell, JW Schramm, L Zinn. 2013. Building and boarding a bigger boat together: learning about sustainability through direct encounters with diverse people in our watershed. Journal of Sustainability Education 5: ISSN 2151-7452.
- Meitzner Yoder LS, D Ostergren and JW Schramm. 2013. Lessons on the landscape: Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. Sustainability: the Journal of Record 6(2): 93-96.
- Momsen JL, SK Clark, JH Doherty, KC Haudek, JW Schramm, EM Geraghty Ward. 2012. Lost in translation: quantifying the overlap of popular media and non-majors science course assessment vocabulary. Ecosphere 3: article 43.
- Schramm JW and JG Ehrenfeld. 2012. Patterns of patch colonization and expansion in the non-native annual grass Microstegium vimineum (Poaceae). Rhodora 114: 1-20.
- Hartley LM, BJ Wilke, JW Schramm, C D’Avanzo, CW Anderson. 2011. College students’ understanding of the carbon cycle: contrasting principled and informal reasoning. Bioscience 61: 65-75.
- Schramm JW and JG Ehrenfeld. 2010. Leaf litter and understory canopy shade limit the establishment, growth and reproduction of Microstegium vimineum. Biological Invasions 12: 3195-3204.
Hike/backpack/camp, play with my kids and wife, play my accordion, swim in ponds/lakes/oceans, bake breads and road bike.