Jonathon Schramm

Assistant Professor in the Sustainability and Environmental Education Department


Ph.D. Ecology and Evolution, 2008 — Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
B.S. Biology, B.A., German, 2001 — Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI)

Contact Information
Office: In the Learning Center building at Merry Lea
Phone: (260) 799-5869
Ideas that matter to me:  At heart, I'm vitally interested in seeing people develop a relationship of love and knowledge with the land that they live in, on and with. This begins with first steps such as learning a bit about the incredible diversity of different organisms that can be found in their home landscape. It extends to more complex understandings of the ways in which our economic decisions affect people and places both nearby and far away. I love learning more about my home landscape and enjoy sharing its surprising complexity with other people.
Research interests: Academically, I'm interested in the pivotal role of landscapes, both ecologically and in our human manner of thinking. Landscape ecology has been emerging over the last decades as an important bridge between the large-scale patterns traced by ecosystem ecology and the interspecific interactions described by community ecology, and is powerful in part because is an "actionable" or applied scale of thinking that allows us to design interventions and management that unite insights from these two scales. Ecologically, I'm particularly keen to study how the diversity of native and non-native species interact at the landscape scale, and how our management decisions sway those interactions. Educationally, I'm curious to understand better how expanding students' and adults' considerations of landscapes, which are larger in both space and time than we usually consider, helps them to understand the ecological phenomena around them and to understand the importance of their decisions in the here and now.
Current Projects:    
1) The landscape ecology of rare and invasive plants at Merry Lea (a 2013 Goshen College Maple Scholars project in collaboration with Aradhana Roberts)
2) Changes in student prioritization of sustainability issues as a result of an interdisciplinary semester of study
3) Improving field education about non-native and invasive species through richer explanation of ecological principles
Classes I teach and my approach: I currently teach Principles of Environmental Education in the master's program, where I try to introduce the major trends that have shaped and are shaping environmental education. We emphasize discussion and hands-on curriculum design work in this course. I think its important to provide plenty of space to think through what makes for effective curriculum. I also teach Environmental Problem Solving in the Sustainability Semester in Residence, which allows students to work with a small group of peers and a local community agency, organization or business in designing integrative solutions to local environmental issues. This course is highly collaborative and student-driven; I see my role very much as being a facilitator and suggestion-provider, rather than a "sage-on-a-stage" with all of the answers.
Recent publications: 

- Meitzner Yoder LS, T Hartzell, JW Schramm, L Zinn. 2013. Building and boarding a bigger boat together: learning about sustainability through direct encounters with diverse people in our watershed. Journal of Sustainability Education 5: ISSN 2151-7452.

- Meitzner Yoder LS, D Ostergren and JW Schramm. 2013. Lessons on the landscape: Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. Sustainability: the Journal of Record 6(2): 93-96.

- Momsen JL, SK Clark, JH Doherty, KC Haudek, JW Schramm, EM Geraghty Ward. 2012. Lost in translation: quantifying the overlap of popular media and non-majors science course assessment vocabulary. Ecosphere 3: article 43.

- Schramm JW and JG Ehrenfeld. 2012Patterns of patch colonization and expansion in the non-native annual grass Microstegium vimineum (Poaceae). Rhodora 114: 1-20.

- Hartley LM, BJ Wilke, JW Schramm, C D’Avanzo, CW Anderson. 2011. College students’ understanding of the carbon cycle: contrasting principled and informal reasoning. Bioscience 61: 65-75.

- Schramm JW and JG Ehrenfeld. 2010. Leaf litter and understory canopy shade limit the establishment, growth and reproduction of Microstegium vimineumBiological Invasions 12: 3195-3204.

Available to speak on:
  • plant community ecology
  • invasive and native plant species topics
  • student reasoning in biology and ecology
  • biblical connections to ecological stewardship
  • ecotheology
Miscellaneous interests: hiking/backpacking, playing with my kids and wife, playing my accordion, swimming in ponds/lakes/oceans, baking breads and road biking.
All brave men love, for he only is brave who has affections to fight for.   - Nathaniel Hawthorne