Joel Light was a naturalist before coming to Northwestern. He has published a book on Christian Environmental Education.
“The earth is the lord’s, and everything in it…” Psalm 24:1
A Little About Me:
I am passionate about God’s creation. I love exposing students to new places and outdoor spaces. The more we understand how God has designed the natural world the more we understand our role as stewards of this gift of creation. I believe that the natural world is one of the places we can encounter God in a powerful way. I love creating educational experiences in which God can be revealed through his creation.
One of the courses I teach is called Field Biology, a summer course that includes a week long wilderness expedition. It is amazing to see the transformation in students when the distractions of everyday life are gone and all that is left is water, trees, and God. I believe that is why our Savior went into the wilderness to be prepared for his ministry and why he returned to the wilderness from time to time to reconnect and recuperate. My goal is to help students understand the natural world both scientifically and biblically. I enjoy merging these two seemingly different subjects that in all reality are very much integrated.
Courses I Teach
Concepts of Biology
Water quality determination of small streams using biotic indices.
We can understand a lot of what the abiotic conditions of an ecosystem are by studying the biotic conditions. Abiotic conditions really are the deciding factors as to what biotic features will be on the landscape. So by determining what biotic life is present in an ecosystem, we can back cast what the abiotic conditions are. This can help us determine what abiotic problems an ecosystem may have that would eventually cause problems in the biotic factors.
In my research, we do just that. We determine what aquatic macroinvertebrates are present in a stream which then based on the organisms present tells us about the abiotic conditions; specifically if there are some types of pollutants in the stream. This can help us to understand the health of the stream and what might be the appropriate steps necessary to remedy these problems.
A Field Guide to Christian Environmental Education: A complete guide to Creation care – American Camping Association / Healthy Learning: Monterey, CA 2008
Nature-Spirit Connection: The Missing Link, Taproot Journal, Spring 2007
Knowing your Audience, Minnesota Naturalist Association spring newsletter 2007
“Natural history of the Mississippi River," Rivers Institute 2007, Hamline University
“Flood plain forest natural history and research methods," Rivers Institute 2007, Hamline University
“Biblical-based nature activities for young children,” Lutheran Early Childhood Educators Conference 2007
“Faith and the environment," Environmental Ethics class, Mayflower Church 2008
“The Nature Spirit Connection," National Association of Interpretation Region V Workshop 2008
“Natural history of the St. Croix River," Rivers Institute 2008, Hamline University
“Natural history of the Mississippi River," Rivers Institute 2008, Hamline University
“Christian Environmental Education," Restoring Eden/Irreplaceable Wild 2008, Water and Oil Gallery
“How to teach Christians about the Environment," MNA Conference 2009
“Climate, Coal and Your Soul," Restoring Eden 2010, Bethel University
“Grasslands and Watersheds” South Dakota Discovery Center 2011
Research Projects Directed
Forest edge use by northern and southern flying squirrels; Northland College
Determining the quality of water based on the biotic life present; Northwestern College
Office Location: Nazareth Hall 2064
M.A., Hamline University
Outside of Work
Joel loves to be outdoors and does his best to get students out there with him. He is an avid kayaker and canoeist and loves to camp. Joel is married and has one son.