Interdisciplinary Teaching

George Middendorf, Ph.D.

February 27, 2008


Dr. George Middendorf is a 21st Century “Renaissance Man.” Why? Although he is a Professor of Biology, he has dedicated much of his academic life to interdisciplinary ventures. After his arrival at Howard University in the 1980s, he earned certification in the Writing Across the Curriculum Program and taught a writing-intensive ecology course. He collaborated with Political Science professor Joseph McCormick to launch the course “Science and Public Policy.” In addition, he chaired the Graduate School committee that proposed the Interdisciplinary Graduate Environmental Studies Program and team-taught the course “Ecological and Environmental Studies.” More recently, with Physics professor Gregory Jenkins, he taught the interdisciplinary freshman seminar FRSM 100 “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Undergraduate Research.”

FRSM 100 called for extensive cross-disciplinary teaching and learning. Before launching the course in January 2007, Dr. Middendorf and Dr. Jenkins had to recruit as lecturers faculty from the University’s departments of Afro-American Studies, Economics, Civil Engineering, History, Psychology, Social Work, Economics, Political Science, and History as well as the New Orleans Public Health Department. The two professors also collaborated closely with librarians, who taught some class sessions, as well as English professors, who linked their Freshman English 003 courses to FRSM 100.

Although FRSM 100 is the product of many hands and many minds, FRSM 100 would not have taken shape without the interdisciplinary vision and intellectual energy that Dr. Middendorf provided. That is why the Faculty Senate awarded him its “Inspirational Interdisciplinary Project Award.”

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