Doctoral student Wendong Zhang was recently awarded the 2014 Bernie Erven Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award from the department. The prize is given annually to a graduate student who best exemplifies the tradition of teaching excellence demonstrated by AEDE Emeritus Professor Bernie Erven. For many years Erven served the department as an exemplary teacher and a devoted mentor to graduate students. Zhang was nominated for the award by AEDE’s faculty.
Zhang, who is advised by Professor Elena Irwin, served as the teaching assistant during the 2013-2014 academic year for the AEDE undergraduate courses, “The Sustainable Economy: Concepts and Methods” taught by Dr. Irwin, and “Assessing Sustainability: Project Experience” co-taught by Dr. Irwin and Dr. Gregory Hitzhuzen.
Zhang helped to develop the course content and presented lectures in the classes. He focused on inclusive wealth, greenhouse gas accounting and ecosystem service modeling using the InVEST model developed by the Natural Capital Project. Earlier in his graduate career, Zhang also independently taught the undergraduate course "China's Economic Reform and Globalization.”
Zhang notes that his favorite part of teaching economics is equipping students with valuable economic tools to think critically about the world and make informed decisions, which to him, is a form of empowerment for students.
Part of Zhang’s success in the classroom has been his understanding that to be a teacher means to constantly adapt and evolve with your students. “A challenge and beauty of teaching to me is that the classroom will quickly reveal the effectiveness of your teaching strategy. As a result, I continuously seek feedback on my teaching style and materials and try to adjust accordingly,” he notes.
Zhang has also been recognized for fostering a positive learning environment in the classroom that actively engages students and respects and promotes intellectual diversity. Additionally, he uses tools like storytelling and personal reflection in the classroom, which resonates strongly with students.
Zhang focuses on the interdependence of land use, land management, ecosystem services and public policy in his studies at Ohio State. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including recently being named a 2014 Ohio State Presidential Fellow.
He has received grant funding from the NOAA/Ohio Sea Grant and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). He was recognized by the department as the 2012 winner of the best doctoral manuscript as well as recognized by his peers through research awards at the North American Regional Science Conference and the Midwest Graduate Student Conference on Regional and Applied Economics. Zhang will graduate from Ohio State in 2015.
May 12, 2014