About Lou Weber
I I’ve been teaching full-time in biology and environmental science programs since the mid-1990s. Currently I’m a professor at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Before that I taught at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve also taught at Emory, Clemson, and Adams State Universities.
One of my goals is to publish a textbook I’ve been writing entitled Understanding Nature: Ecology for a New Generation.
Photo: Indiana sky and cornfield, by Lou Weber
My goals in Understanding Nature are to provide (1) a straight-forward resource that teaches natural history and ecological content, and (2) a way to instruct students that will heal both the Earth and self. Understanding Nature is an alternative to existing ecology textbooks by having an ecotherapy theme. We live in an age of epidemics: obesity, diabetes, suicide, anxiety, depression, loneliness, myopia, and chronic screen use, all exacerbated by too little time outside. Yet, each of us holds a readily available potential for healing by going outside. The solution is not to scold people for their addictions or lack of action regarding the environment, but to reconnect humans with nature that expresses itself as love rather than guilt and fear. Understanding Nature is a manual for both teaching ecology and restoring the psyche through outdoor activities that heal self by healing the Earth.
I’m honored to be teaching at the University of Saint Francis where Franciscan values blend seamlessly with the biology and ecology courses I have the privilege to teach. Fort Wayne is my hometown and Saint Francis is my mother’s alma mater. Family and the lakes, woods, prairies, and cornfields of northern Indiana combine with my 19 years of Catholic school education near this place. People are unbelievably nice here, life is wholesome, and Mother Nature makes sure we know who is in charge. The students and I have much to share with the outside world about what we have discovered together regarding nature study.
Teaching at Warren Wilson College for 15 years was an exhausting, but dream job. With its triad of academics, work, and service against the backdrop of a campus farm and forest in the gorgeous Swannanoa Valley, life was astonishingly vibrant. One of only a handful of work colleges in the U.S., students worked the farm, forest, garden, greenhouse, auto shop, Cowpie Café, and 109 other places on campus. Ever surprising, the students, staff, and faculty at WWC took on the world and each of its members with evermore challenge. I will forever be grateful for my time in the mountains of North Carolina and to the people who I love with all my heart. The community at WWC dismantled every notion I had of teaching and learning, then built it back up with something more authentic.
Photo: Warren Wilson College in the Swannanoa Valley of
North Carolina, by Lou Weber
Beyond finishing the book I’m writing, current projects include my work at the Southwest Conservation Club in Fort Wayne, helping to create prairie, restore woods, and build community. The Club is proof that wildlifers and ecologists, anglers and marksmen, Republicans and Democrats can come together for the cause of conservation.
I am also in charge of the prairie and forest restoration on the campus of the University of Saint Francis. These sites serve as some of the places where USF students conduct their senior capstone research. In all, I’ve advised over 75 senior research projects over my career. Current passions are prairie restoration, the Peregrine Falcons who nest in Fort Wayne, and the rich history of early Fort Wayne and the Native Americans who made this place home.
Beyond that, I am taking courses at the University of Saint Francis toward an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I hope to use the counseling degree in the practice of ecotherapy as I continue to write and teach. Clinical mental health counseling could also become a second career for me part time or full time when I retire from teaching. I am interested in continuing my work in ecotherapy as a practice.
Photo: USF students completing a prairie ecology lab, by Lou Weber