Katie Burles, M.Sc.

Discipline/Teaching Area: Geography and Earth Science

Currently, I am the Program Coordinator of University Math and Sciences and have prioritized student retention and recruitment initiatives, articulation and transfer of our science and math course with large institutions, and development of our science programs. As a faculty member, I have volunteered for various College committees, including Education Council, Curriculum Standing Committee, Applied Research Committee, and the High School Engagement Task Force.

I grew up exploring small creeks and swimming in the vast lakes of the South Thompson watershed near Chase, BC. Being immersed in these settings sparked my curiosity for the natural world and inspired a life-long pursuit of learning about geography. I have a Bachelor of Arts in geography from Thompson Rivers University (2008), Master of Science in geography from University of Lethbridge (2010), and the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program through Vancouver Community College (2017).

Before joining the College of the Rockies’ science faculty in 2015, I worked as an environmental consultant, public servant, and program manager of a not-for-profit organization. In these roles, I have worked on a variety of surficial geology, watershed governance and planning, hydrology, and geomorphology projects. Conducting field-based research and monitoring has provided me with many opportunities to explore remote areas of the Yukon, BC, and Alberta during all four seasons. This only fuels my desire to spend more time in the outdoors and show my young sons the wonders of the natural world. When I’m not in my waders fishing, you can find me canoeing, hiking, and gardening.

My goal is to engage students in experiential learning while getting them outside and in their community to learn about the topics covered in my courses. The Rocky Mountain Trench is my outdoor classroom. Recently I have become a passionate author and creator of open educational resources for first year physical geography courses. The goals of these open textbook and lab manual resources are to increase student learning by providing relevant materials adapted specifically for my classes while breaking down barriers of affordability and accessibility for my students.

Instructors need to create a learning community where students feel as they are part of a cohesive group and that making mistakes is a valuable part of learning. As facilitators of learning, we must add value to our teaching by encouraging problem solving and reflection, rather than telling, explaining or demonstrating. I embrace spontaneity and am willing to take risks, improvise, adapt, and constantly reflect and seek feedback from students. I believe students need a champion, someone who can provide positive encouragement for them, to fully realize their own talents and potential.