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Jared Talley’s innovative approach to teaching

Assistant Professor Jared Talley, School of Public Service
Assistant Professor Jared Talley, School of Public Service

School of Public Service assistant professor Jared Talley won five awards this year for his work with students across Boise State’s campus. He received recognitions for the OUR Mentor of the Year award, the President’s Innovation award, the Early Career Excellence Award from the Public Philosophy Network, the SPS Internal Commitment to Research award and the Top 10 Scholars distinguished faculty award for Amy Johnson (Environmental Studies ‘24). Talley’s innovative approach to teaching has caught the eye of individuals around the Boise State campus, Idaho and beyond.

This past academic year, Talley involved students in three main research projects. First, the carbon potential project, which involves answering the question of why carbon is not being sequestered in the West, a seemingly lucrative region for this endeavor. Next, students worked on a project surrounding discomfort in experiential education, where study was performed on the theory surrounding the idea that in order to grow and learn, one must experience discomfort. Talley plans to begin implementing this theory in the upcoming academic year, starting with a backpacking course that challenges students to put their experiential education to the test. The third main project that Talley and his students worked on surrounded the topic of litigious landscapes, or the growing issue of how lawsuits affect the environment and public lands.

Involving students in research is an innate piece of Talley’s overall approach to teaching. He explained, “It’s in everything I do…my teaching is my research, is my service, is with students…it’s all interconnected.” He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Master’s of Public Administration and a Doctorate in Philosophy with a focus on environmental governance.

Talley described being interested in philosophy from a young age, saying, “Growing up I had this friend whose dad would take us to the bookstore, and he’d give us each five dollars and tell us if we could find something for that price, we could buy it. At one point, there was a clearance rack that had a teach yourself philosophy book, and I bought it, I read it and I loved it. It just blew my mind…fast forward to when I went back to school, I saw that I could study philosophy.”

In the classroom, Talley focuses on making the student experience meaningful with every lesson. He begins by thinking about the story he wants to tell with the classes he teaches.

“I view the whole class- from day one to the last day- as a big argument, as one thing, not 16 or 32 different lectures. So I always try to think, what’s the story being told in this class? Depending on where I’m at in that story- am I in the exposition, or detailing some setting, or in the plot- that’s how I structure my classes,” said Talley.

He focuses on encouraging students in his classes to talk in groups about the topics and questions being discussed. Then, based on their conversations that day, he designs the next lesson accordingly. If the class is straying too far from the point, he will pose a question that brings them back. He treats the class as a conversation, with intentionality and thoughtfulness.

Students collect carbon samples from Idaho rangelands
Students collect carbon samples from Idaho rangelands

Jared Talley is making huge strides in teaching and research at Boise State. This upcoming academic year, he plans to begin several large research projects involving students at the undergraduate and graduate level, notably, investigating rural education efforts and how we can make real improvements, studying the impact of our pets on the environment and learning about how visitorship can affect the fabric of rural communities.

For more information on research at the School of Public Service, visit our website.