Simpson brings classes outdoors

Simpson+brings+classes+outdoors

Mackenzie Ritscher, Special to the Simpsonian

by Peyton Busch, Social Media Editor

The Fall 2020 semester brings a new outdoor classroom experience for certain classes to utilize. 

Professor of philosophy, John Pauley, has implemented two outdoor classrooms. One is located between the music building and the chapel, and the other is behind the Culver Center. 

“This was not my idea,” Pauley said. “I had heard about it, and I thought people always talk about how beautiful the Simpson campus is. I thought here’s an opportunity, and I thought, secondly, it’s very clear that being outside with people is much safer with this virus than being inside.”

Junior Jeremiah Dilliner is one of the students taking a class that utilizes outdoor classrooms. 

“A pro to outdoor classrooms is that they are more stimulating than artificially lit fourth-floor Wallace,” Dilliner said. “The fact that having the class outdoors is a huge plus than being cramped in Wallace. It helps get you outdoors and keeps you awake mentally and physically.”

The Student Government Association had previously talked about having outdoor classrooms on campus, but it never went much further. 

“I think Daniel Estrada was the one who originally put the idea in my head and after that, I just would give credit to a lot of people even though I did the manual labor myself,” Pauley said. “People were busy, really busy trying to deal with this crisis, and a lot of people were supportive, so it really was a joint effort.”

Finding the ideal spot on campus to set up the outdoor classrooms had to check off all the boxes in terms of safety and comfort. 

“I know the campus really well, and there are spaces around campus where there is plenty of shade,” Pauley said. “I was trying to think of spots where students wouldn’t be in the boiling sun, and also we would be out of the way so there wouldn’t be distractions. So that space between the music building and the chapel is kind of secluded, and it has a nice already built entrance and exit with the stairs, you’re out of the wind so that I thought was perfect.”

When Pauley found the location for the outdoor classroom by the Culver Center, Seth Anderson helped him out where he could. 

“I am friends with Seth Anderson who was very enthusiastic about the idea, a bunch of faculty were enthusiastic about the idea, I never got anything really except support for the idea,” Pauley said. “Seth is the director for the Culver Center; he has really nice outdoor furniture in that garage behind the culver center. We were able to use that.”

The students are still getting used to the classrooms, as are the professors. 

“I noticed that my professor struggled with projection,” Dilliner said. “The space wasn’t set up for a classroom or lecture hall, and it isn’t meant to carry sound. This is not a permanent issue; we just need to adjust.”

Now that the outdoor classrooms are implemented, they can only get better for the years to come. 

“I think it would be a good thing to establish one or two at first that is truly sustainable and permanent,” Pauley said. “So that means they are not subject to the contingencies of weather. In Iowa, there are some things that you can’t deal with. I would think that some kind of shelter that could be built that is also sustainable and then a way to get the technology so people could do powerpoints and whatnot.”

The outdoor classrooms will need a bit more support in the future to get to where they need to be in order to succeed. 

“I think the next step is to get the SGA really involved, and they have been involved, but to get them involved on the level of how can we make these permanent, how can we supply them with technology,” Pauley said. “I think this is a wave of the future. It’s not just pandemic driven; hence, it’s driven by sustainability issues and being creative and imaginative with space, helping students learn.”

Overall, students and faculty are excited to see what becomes of the outdoor classrooms in the future.