As former mayor of Madison and a graduate of UW-Madison, Dave Cieslewicz has seen both the city and the university go through many transformations.
Years after graduating, he is back in historic Science Hall this spring to teach the next generation of city planners.
With ancient wooden desks covered in graffiti, the lecture hall looks the same as when Cieslewicz was a student. Some aspects of a UW-Madison education remain timeless, but there is one marked difference that current students take for granted.
“The technology is entirely different and it is so much better. When I was a student you basically had a chalk board and chalk,” Cieslewicz said.
Now, Cieslewicz is in the last week of teaching “Introduction to the City,” a foundation class cross-listed between the Departments of Geography and Urban and Regional Planning (URPL). In addition to bringing years of real world experience with city planning into the classroom, he views technology as a tool to educate students in ways that textbooks cannot.
He has used Skype–an online video chat service–to talk with professionals in other cities and give students and opportunity to interface with them in real-time. At the time of the interview, he also planned to invite a speaker from China to Skype with the class.
“The ability to talk to somebody in real time who can talk to us about living in the third largest city in China—that’s something you can’t really get in a textbook,” Cieslewicz said.
Bob Kaiser, chair of the Department of Geography said that Cieslewicz was the most qualified of the applications because of his experience in office and his success as a guest lecturer for the department in previous semesters.
One of the ways he is bringing his experience into the classroom is by asking students to to “use Madison as a laboratory” for a culminating semester project. They will have to look closely into the issue and then present their findings in front of the class.
In addition to teaching this lecture of about 80 students, Cieslewicz is teaching a smaller Political Science seminar called “Politics and Policy of Green Urbanism.”
He also writes a blog called “Citizen Dave,” through the Isthmus where he gives his opinion on local and national politics.
Story by Holly Hartung, College of Letters & Science