Justin Shanks

Justin Shanks PhotoBiography
Keenly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to environmental questions, Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies (Loyola University Chicago, 2003), Master of Urban and Regional Planning, as well as a Master of Arts in English (both Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009). The search for a more comprehensive understanding of the human—environment relationship is the intellectual thread that binds all his academic pursuits. Currently a PhD student in the Department of Science and Technology in Society (STS), Justin is continuing this investigation through an exploration of the ways in which science and technology have influenced what and how we eat.

As an interdisciplinary endeavor, his dissertation work involves an in-depth consideration of our changing knowledge of and relationship to science, technology, and gastronomy. Relying upon STS as an intellectual base, Justin is examining how cookbooks function as historical, cultural, and scientific artifacts that offer a unique glimpse of the American relationship with food and technology. Drawing upon his humanistic and scientific background, Justin’s research is community-based, socially-conscious, and strongly interdisciplinary.

Since the rather unexpected beginning to his teaching career in Tanzania, Justin has accumulated a variety of teaching experience both domestically and abroad. As a graduate student and English instructor within Virginia Tech’s Department of English, he taught literature, research skills, public speaking, critical thinking, and composition within dynamic and diverse learning communities. Additionally, during the summer months of his English MA (2007 and 2008), Justin taught academically gifted high school students at the intense Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP). In this demanding learning environment, he refined his pedagogy and engaged students from various backgrounds while discussing the evolution of fantasy literature. Upon completing his MA in English, Justin was selected for a Visiting Adjunct Faculty position at the American University of Kuwait (summer 2009).

In addition to his two master’s degrees, Justin also holds a Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate. As a component of Virginia Tech’s Transformative Graduate Education initiative, this certificate program addresses the roles and responsibilities of future faculty members, explores various pedagogical approaches, and reconsiders hierarchical teaching and learning paradigms. Upon completing the certificate and in recognition of his aptitude for teaching, Justin earned one of the very competitive graduate fellowships at the Graduate Education Development Institute (GEDI). A joint venture between The Graduate School at Virginia Tech and Learning Technologies, GEDI helps graduate teaching assistants define their pedagogical approach as they explore inquiry-based and technology-enriched active learning in a multidisciplinary environment.

Current Endeavors
Academically, Justin is working on a variety of STS coursework and dissertation research (tentatively titled: Smörgåsbord of Science With a Side of Tasty Technology: How Science and Technology Have Irrevocably Altered Our Diet and Why It Matters). Since June 2011, Justin has held the Global PFP fellowship at Virginia Tech’s Graduate School. His duties in this post involve numerous endeavors related to international collaborative higher education. He is also the current copy editor for the Public Knowledge Journal.

Contact Info
Justin D. Shanks
Global PFP Fellow
Graduate School (0325) || 230 GLC @ Donaldson Brown
Virginia Tech || Blacksburg, VA 24061

PhD Student
Dept. of Science and Technology in Society
Virginia Tech || Blacksburg, VA 24061

Email: jshanks(at)vt.edu