Bruce Monger

Cornell’s Introductory Oceanography class, taught by ACSF Faculty Fellow Bruce Monger (EAS), is one of the New York Times’ top picks for college courses 

NYT: Cornell Course One of Nation’s 10 Best

April 16, 2014

Bruce Monger

Cornell’s Introductory Oceanography class, taught by ACSF Faculty Fellow Bruce Monger (EAS), is one of the New York Times’ top picks for college courses that are “not just a credit, but an event.”

Monger’s popular course joins nine others from across the country on subjects including philanthropy, extreme weather, and livestock handling. “We looked around the nation for courses with buzz,” education reporter Laura Pappano wrote. These engaging courses “give students an experience that might change how they think, what they care about, or even how they spend their lives.”

Here’s what the New York Times has to say about Monger’s 800-student class:

Class experience: There is no saltwater for 200 miles, but “Introductory Oceanography” has the largest enrollment at Cornell. Dr. Monger, a charismatic one-time logger, focuses on marine science, but a third of the course is activism. Dr. Monger keeps a website for the course, itsmyocean.org (sample post: “Why you should avoid eating shrimp”), and a listserve of 1,700. “I want to stimulate these guys to raise their voices,” he says. “I tell them, ‘That ocean is as much yours as anybody else’s.’” The final assignment is to write Congress, though students are not required to mail the letters.

Takeaway lesson: You will learn about tides, waves, and microbial processes, but you will also delve into marine policy, global warming, and the impact of human activities on coral reefs. Dr. Monger shares these “two things you should care about”: half of all photosynthesis on Earth occurs in the ocean—the work of algae producing the oxygen we all breathe. Related processes also consume carbon dioxide, with the oceans absorbing more than a quarter of all CO2 produced since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Read more in the New York Times.