George McCourt

Senior Faculty Lecturer (FAES & MSE)

T: 514-398-7550  |  george.mccourt [at] mcgill.ca (Email)  |  Rowles House  |  Teaching snapshot

Degrees

BSc (Geology) University of Alberta
MSc (Geology) University of Alberta
MSc (Natural Resource Sciences) McGill University

Short Bio

Awards and Recognitions

2014: Nominated for the 2014 3M National Teaching Fellowship
2013: McGill University’s Office of Sustainability Catalyst Award for staff contributions in promoting sustainability within the McGill community
2013: Macdonald Campus Outstanding Teacher Award
2007: McGill University Principal’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (Category: Faculty Lecturer)

Active Affiliations

Advisor, McGill Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) Committee - $3.2 million fund established to aid in the building of a culture of sustainability on the McGill Campuses through the development and seed funding of interdisciplinary projects

Member, McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services Inquiry Network Working Group – a faculty learning community that explores the links between teaching and learning and how to create institution wide resources to promote students understanding and active engagement with research

Member, Education Action Team, McGill Vision 2020 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan Committee

Teaching

George McCourt's teaching philosophy takes into account that his courses are populated by a diverse group of students who have different learning styles, learning objectives and interests. Students need to carve their own learning paths and the teaching/research approach attempts to look at what students can contribute as well as what they can gain. Students are encouraged to become active learners instead of taking the traditional passive learning approach often used in undergraduate education.

His approach also attempts to integrate teaching, research, learning and community engagement. His teaching methodology encourages students to explore the process of learning that will link up with the students’ interests including various on campus research driven sustainability initiatives. These research-based sustainability initiatives have allowed for the creation of a food waste composting plan for all of downtown McGill’s Food and Dining Services and the development of a process that led to McGill becoming the first Canadian university to obtain a sustainable seafood purchasing certification for all of the seafood served in its McGill residences. Past and present student centered research projects include students working with Rotisserie St-Hubert (examining ways to reduce take-out food waste), Ville de Montreal (analyzing residential water consumption patterns) and Belron Canada (contributing to the development of a sustainable assessment strategy for the company).

George McCourt's interests in teaching, learning and research continuously explore innovative assessment strategies that move away from traditional exams. Some of these approaches include open-book and open classroom discussion lab exams. Other assessment approaches encourage students to explore writing as a research and learning tool and to express themselves in non-traditional ways including storytelling, newspaper pieces and first-person narratives. The connection between research, teaching and learning is also examined by moving away from passive learning lecture methods and to a more active learning style that includes having first year undergraduate students analyze primary environmental literature and present their findings through oral presentations and written papers.

Courses

ENVR 200 The Global Environment 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


ENVR 202 The Evolving Earth 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


ENVR 401 Environmental Research 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


SOIL 300 Geosystems 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WILD 475 Desert Ecology 3 CreditsTaught only in alternate years
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Publications

Russell Vinegar, Pete Parker and George McCourt (2016) More than a Response to Food Insecurity: Demographics and Social Networks of Urban Dumpster Divers. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. 21(2) 241-253

Zazula, G.D., C.E. Schweger, A.B Beaudoin and G.H. McCourt (2006) Macrofossil and pollen evidence for full-glacial steppe within an ecological mosaic along the Bluefish River, Eastern Beringia.  Quaternary International (142 – 143) 2-19