Alumni Profile: James Spartz

james-2This summer, James Spartz earned his Ph.D. through the Department of Life Sciences Communication. This fall, he will be an Assistant Professor of Environmental Communication in the Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities at Unity College in Maine. We sat down with Spartz to reflect on his time at LSC. 

What was your LSC experience like? 

Developing research experiences on different projects with Bret Shaw and Dominique Brossard was invaluable in developing a social science perspective to environmental and natural resources management issues. Having a built-in research-ready community of other graduate students was also really great. The international bent of faculty and other graduate students helps to maintain a balanced perspective on issues in the field of communications, science, politics, and everyday culture. I hope I can honor LSC and UW by bringing at bit of the Wisconsin Idea to mid-coast Maine. Teaching several courses in LSC, including introduction to communication as well as intro to science writing, has also been important in developing a level of confidence and competence as an instructor. My semesters as an instructor were filled with valuable lessons. Working with Shiela Reaves was particularly rewarding as she took the helm of LSC 100 with an open mind and enthusiastic heart.

What will you remember about your time in Madison? 

I have made many life-long friends at UW and in my former life as a local musician. Madison usually feels bigger than it is because there is always something to do. With strong local music, arts, and food (and beer!) scenes, as well as the political and intellectual awareness nurtured by UW and state government, there is no shortage of fun and inspiring options in this four-season city. My cohort of UW friends is slowly spreading across the globe and my inspiring and well-rooted musician friends have provided the soundtrack to many wonderful years in south-central Wisconsin. I will carry a little bit of that Badger-state soul off to New England and whatever comes after that. On Wisconsin!

Are you excited about moving to Maine? 

I am looking forward to working with faculty and students who focus the experiences of higher education through a lens of sustainability science. Unity College is unique in its niche focus as “America’s environmental college,” and I anticipate working on interdisciplinary projects with students and faculty at Unity and throughout the region. Unity is located in Waldo County, mid-coast Maine, which has a rich tradition of outdoor recreation, organic foods and agriculture. And lobster — let’s not forget the lobster.

Keep up with James’ academic work via Google Scholar and his related interests via his blog The Topophilian.