PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century

Andrzej Jarzecki

F21 Class of 2006 Statement

Andrzej Jarzecki is Assistant Professor of Chemistry at CUNY-Brooklyn College.

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

When I seek the answers of how the future will be like there seem not to be a better place than to think of our classrooms where every single day teachers meet people of our future. As a teacher and a scholar in science I have in hand a unique responsibility to shape a next wave of our scientists, doctors, lawyers, political leaders, decision-making federal, state and local officials who will have an impact on how we all live, work and interact. It is undeniable to link a good undergraduate educational experience with teachers who posses a passion to teach with ability to pass on a unique ideas and ways to attack and solve problems that help students to learn both in and outside the classroom since they reach students far behind the walls of the classroom. I believe that as the world around us is constantly changing, academic freedom allows us, teachers, to be flexible and responsive to these changes and to seek and bring new ways and novel ideas to our students to keep them interested. Therefore, all changes around us are our new unique opportunities. However how to recognize these changes and to employ them so that they could serve us to become a better teacher and a role model for our students is a principle challenge of any teacher.

One of the opportunities for a better educational experience in science seem to be offered by numerous newly emerging fields that possess a lot of energy to impact our future by their interdisciplinary nature. The unique energy of these fields offers a huge capacity to teach our students independent and novel thinking about the role of the basic science by making new connections between mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology and easily arriving at more futuristic fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and others.

However, how to bring this new energy emerging from interdisciplinary connections to a classroom is a contemporary challenge of our time. Although carrying out the interdisciplinary nature of our scientific knowledge to a classroom is very tempting, it is obvious that a full understanding and appreciation of interdisciplinary fields by students can be only accomplished by their solid fundamentals learned in core science courses. It takes skillful and experience teachers to find a right balance between traditional and novel ways which reach students in our classrooms. This brings us again to realization of how powerful and responsible is to be a teacher. With these responsibilities and power to touch life we can afford to be only perfect teachers.

By teaching chemistry, I hope to stimulate and enhance learning experience but also infect other teachers with my passion for chemistry. When I vision the undergraduate classroom of 2016, I think about the essence of ultimate academic task expressed in a simple question: how to keep a natural curiosity and love to explore the world in our children thorough years of their education that prepares them for their life as a model citizen?