PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century

John M. Oakes

F21 Class of 1994 Statements Revisited

John Oakes

John Oakes is Professor of Chemistry at Grossmont College.

Question: What are the current challenges you are facing in your professional life?

Answer: My current challenges include trying to create interdisciplinary science curriculum and classes in a setting where we at the community colleges are the tail, while our transfer institutions are the dog. It is difficult to be innovative with new courses when transferability is a chief concern of our curriculum committee, rather than what is the need of the students, both from the point of view of course content, and from pedagogical considerations. The need and the challenge is for improved peer-to-peer communication with our four-year transfer partners. It is my responsibility to both work on building this network and to sometimes forge ahead and take a chance and try to force the change at my campus.

Question: What do you view as your most promising options and opportunities for the future?

Answer: One great opportunity I have is as the current director of our campus honors program. This has provided me with influence on campus to create more challenging and stimulating curriculum, to bring in outside speakers to a school with few such opportunities, and to bring in great opportunities for undergraduate research through our contacts with partner institutions such as UC Irvine. .

Question: What will undergraduate STEM be like in 2016, given the urgency of new challenges and opportunities facing our nation?

Answer: Undergraduate STEM will have a more seamless flow between high school, 2-year, 4-year and graduate institutions. Interdisciplinary studies will have overtaken traditional departmental definitions as the workforce demands. For better or for worse, there will also be greater involvement of industries, especially in our technical programs, making the move between academia and the workplace more smooth, as well as facilitating more back-and-forth movement between the two. Hopefully, better pedagogy, including more undergraduate research, more interactive teaching environments and so forth will become standard in most of our colleges, at least partially through the influence of the F21 network.