FIELD NOTE: Semester (un)interrupted: Innovative teaching in the hybrid semester

December 8, 2020


Class: BIOEE 3611 – Field Ecology

Anurag Agrawal, James A. Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

The course remained in-person for all 20 students. The major change for BIOEE 3611 was the labs, where students would learn field ecology and do independent experiments. We did six labs on campus, taking advantage of Dilmun Hill Student Farm, Cornell Botanic Gardens and our other beautiful natural areas. For the other six labs, we rented a commercial bus, which enabled us to maintain appropriate physical distance while en route to farther field locations, including bogs and old growth forests. 

Frankly, I was surprised by how well it worked. The students seemed eager to be engaged in a real in-person activity, and being outside has been such a treasure for all of us. I was impressed with the students’ flexibility and desire to experience the Ithaca surroundings. At first it seemed that winter was approaching rapidly, and it was a race against the season. But then rain and warmth returned, and it was a wonderful fall color season — with extended nice days and many Friday afternoons where we collected data on birds, trees and even fossils.

This excerpt was published as part of a CALS Field Note.

Students on a bus during pandemic