New Job: Director of General Education at Temple

The New Position

Starting January 1st, I became Temple’s new director of General Education.  GenEd, as it is known for short, is a selection of courses designed to ensure that every Temple Student gains a broad appreciation of a variety of disciplines (e.g., the Arts, Race and Diversity, World Society, Science, etc.) outside of their chosen major. Gened is not simply a distribution requirement. Classes designed for GenEd are developed specifically for non-majors. They focus not so heavily on building a foundations for upper level coursework as on developing general competencies and helping student make connections across areas of study.

Disasters: Geology vs. Hollywood, a popular science GenEd I developed, illustrates the approach. Students do indeed learn the fundamentals of catastrophic geology — earthquake mechanisms, how hurricanes form, why some volcanoes are explosive — but with the broader aim of learning how scientists think, the connections between science, risk perception and public policy, the role of technology in discovery,  and the power and limitations of scientific models.

Today’s college students are keenly aware of the competitive job market, so they are laser-focused on classes in their major. The irony is that only about a quarter of them will find jobs in their chosen field.  My job is to help students to appreciate the value of diversifying their academic portfolio, and to ensure the quality of GenEd courses and instruction.

I’m just getting started, so wish me luck!

My Research Continues

My acceptance of this new role was contingent on carving out time to continue my research. I have several active grants (EPA, PennDOT, NSF), and I will continue to work with graduate students. So if you are interested in graduate research in geophysics at Temple, send me an email! (nyq at

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