Smith, Greg

Greg Smith
  • Greg Smith

Greg Smith

Professor of Teacher Education

Years Served: 28

Path to Lewis & Clark:

The daughter of an L&C education faculty member has been a friend of mine since my mid-20s when we both lived in Southern Oregon. It was from her that I learned about small Quaker schools and their focus on community and social justice/peace education. Conversations with her led my wife and me to the John Woolman School, a Friends high school outside of Grass Valley, California. We taught there for six years, and that experience has been the inspiration for my work in place- and community-based education ever since. When a job opening at Lewis & Clark College was advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the winter of 1993, and I saw that my friend’s father (whom I’d never met) was chairing the search committee, I figured this was probably the best opportunity I’d get to return to my home state and make a long-term career here. My hunch was right.

Favorite courses to teach:

Two are close to my heart. The first is a cross-disciplinary course I taught in the graduate school for 17 to 18 years entitled Envisioning a Sustainable Society. The other, the Theory and Practice of Environmental and Ecological Education, is one I taught every other year since 2000 to undergraduates. It has been a blessing to work with both groups of students.

What you’ve enjoyed most about your work:

The first thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to have conversations about important issues with students–be they environmental, cultural, or educational topics. The second is the way that my work has taken me all over the United States and to Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, where I have been able to meet with other people who share my concerns and passion about finding ways to support a transition to more just and life-sustaining cultures. 

Most memorable moment:

Over the past decade or so, I’ve attended meetings of a group of progressive educators from around the U.S. called the North Dakota Study Group. One year, Grace Lee Boggs, then a 94-year-old social justice activist from Detroit, had been invited to be the lead speaker. Meeting her–a truly memorable event–led to a strong relationship with a center named after her and her husband, Jimmy, that focuses on community renewal and personal transformation. Grace passed away at age 100 last October. I had the chance to attend her memorial service–it attracted around 2,000 people and went on for five hours. She remains an important inspiration for my life and work.

Favorite place on campus:

The bridge across the ravine just below Templeton, especially now that the ivy has been cleared. 

What you’ll miss:

The regular interaction with young people either on the cusp or adulthood or preparing to enter a field that for many is a deep calling.

What you’re most proud of:

My marriage and my sons who are making their way in the world with confidence, determination, and grace.

What’s next:

Time for parts of myself that have been on the back burner for much of my professional life: music, hiking/camping/paddling, gardening, volunteer work in the community, and writing in different genres than those I’ve pursued over the past 30 years. 

Fun fact:

I’ve been practicing Zen Buddhism on a daily basis since I was in my early 20s.