“If I could clone one instructor to develop young minds, Dr. Auer would be my model.”
—Orville Powell, director of undergraduate programs,
President’s Award for Teaching
Alarming headlines about ecological disasters, water pollution
and deforestation leave many of us overwhelmed. But these
challenges just seem to energize Matthew Auer.
He injects so much enthusiasm, insight and humor into his courses on environmental policy that his students not only enjoy class, but many are inspired to pursue majors and careers encompassing environmental issues. Auer has received thank-you notes from former students whose training in brokering interests helps them evaluate state highway projects, conduct city planning or oversee federal budgets.
An expert in the international politics of forestry, foreign aid and industrial environmental policy, Auer refrains from promoting just one viewpoint. Instead, he effectively makes students think and analyze course concepts and cases with a “different lens.” According to former student Paul Mitchell, “students were required to put on the hat of a real-world policy analyst, corporate executive or environmental advocate.”
Auer adapts to different learning styles. He has a unique ability to captivate students with techniques ranging from eye-opening walks in the woods behind the SPEA building to having students play the role of “ranchers” who breed and sell cattle. Auer continually researches new ways to make technical information engaging, sharing his methods with other instructors.
In nine years at IU, Auer has already earned nine teaching awards from SPEA and IU. He has leadership roles on a number of IU committees, conducts international research and consults for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Forest Service.
Recently, he edited Restoring Cursed Earth: Appraising Environmental Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe and Russia, which contains several chapters he co-wrote with IU students. His voluminous publications include government reports and articles for scholarly journals as well as newspapers such as the New York Times In addition, he assists students at the Foster International Living–Learning Center, mentors many other students and advises master’s degree and doctoral candidates.
“Professor Auer stands out as one of a handful of the most dazzling young scholars I have had the pleasure to watch,” said Astrid Merget, dean of SPEA. “He has perfected a set of intellectual skills that few professors can command, extracting points of harmony rather than only those of dissension.”