Professor Paul Brumer is taking his expertise to small seminars of first-year students this year – and discovering more about the undergraduate experience in the process.
A theoretical chemical physicist in the department of chemistry, Brumer is teaching a course called The Quantum World and its Classical Limit.
“A small first-year class like this gives both the students and the faculty an opportunity to better understand the level at which students enter university,” says Brumer, one of the youngest recipients of the CIC Palladium Medal, the highest award of the Chemical Institute of Canada. “We get to know their concerns – not just about the class material, but the university experience itself.”
Brumer’s class is open to all students including non-science majors, which he sees as an opportunity to teach more than just the minutiae of quantum mechanics, which is the study of the behaviour of subatomic particles like protons and electrons.
“I also try to make this class about how to think more generally,” says Brumer, citing the spread of misinformation online as a particularly troubling issue.
“Quantum mechanics sounds very puzzling when you try to talk about it, so I think this opens students up to the issue of whether or not there are other puzzling things they should be questioning and trying to understand. I emphasize that we need to rely upon experimentation, proof, confirmation and verifiability, regardless of what subject we’re talking about.”
Read more at U of T News.