Professor Nirav S. Patel is Assistant Research Professor and Director of Immersive Experiential Learning at the Honors College. He also is the Director of the Honors College Forum, the Honors College mission course for 500 students from six schools across New Brunswick. The Forum is a model of contemporary teaching at Rutgers, with broad interdisciplinary focus in environmental studies, sustainability, social entrepreneurship, field work, and service-learning opportunities across New Jersey and around the world. Professor Patel is the current recipient of the Provost's Award for Excellence in Innovative Teaching The award recognizes his engagement with innovative 21st-century teaching practices and non-traditional approaches incorporating contemporaneous research to enhance student-centered learning including new forms of pedagogy, instructional technologies, and multimedia. Throughout both his teaching and research, Professor Patel emphasizes active student-centered teaching and learning.
With the Forum, Professor Patel guides students in the critical examination of combining humanities within STEM projects so as to propose substantive ways to address contemporary issues in real communities as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He believes that 21st-century innovative education requires diverse groups to practice advanced non-cognitive skills alongside cognitive skills, interdisciplinary research, and complex problem-solving.
Professor Patel has a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from Cornell University where he was twice awarded the excellence in teaching award and was recognized with an award for his excellence in teaching, character, service, and advocacy for belonging across traditionally underrepresented populations, student of color, and first generation students enrolled in instructional program(s) focused on STEM. As a trained natural and social scientist with expertise in dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH), his research overlaps with his teaching in its emphasis on experiential learning and the Food-Energy-Water nexus as a universal point of introduction to the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge within diverse scale-communities.