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Why It Matters

Montgomery College's expert faculty are passionate about their disciplines. Wouldn't it be great to sit in a lecture with some of MC's top-notch educators? Why It Matters brings that experience to you, through short talks prepared by faculty highlighting a particular topic in their field and why it is relevant to us.

Climate Change

It is more important than ever to develop policy that protects the environment and the human societies who depend on healthy ecosystems. Climate change, water pollution, waste disposal, habitat loss, and many other problems harm the environment - talented people can help society make choices that protect environmental resources. The Environmental Science and Policy major prepares students to use scientific principles to create societal change that improves environmental function.

If you are interested in learning more about environmental studies at Montgomery College, check out the Montgomery College Associate of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policynew window.

Upon completion of this program, a student will be able to:

  • Make observations, collect data, and analyze data.
  • Apply basic biological and chemical principles to explain experimental results.
  • Describe connections between the environment and human societies, including how humans affect the environment and how the environment in turn affects human welfare.

Professor Newtoff's interests are based around environmental science. Her master's thesis examined mercury distributions in pelican colonies in North Carolina and she worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center using satellite imagery to answer ecological problems.
Professor Newtoff continues her environmental stewardship in teaching Environmental Biology BIOL 105/106 and Principles of Biology II BIOL 151 which focuses on ecology and evolution. If you drive along Middlebrook Road, you may see the Adopt-a-Road signs labeled Montgomery College in which she organizes monthly clean-ups. Some other ongoing projects include maintaining the three Germantown campus bird feeders used in research projects, collecting pictures from a wildlife camera in the local woods, developing pedagogy that develop students' quantitative skills, and advising the Environmental Club. She also serves as the Biological Sciences, Environmental Science & Policy, and Bioinformatics Program Advisor on the Germantown campus. You may see her around campus with a Guiding Eyes for the Blind service-dog-in-training, who you are welcome to come meet and assist in their progression!


Are the colors we see from the stunning James Webb Space Telescope real? The answer is explored during this talk by Montgomery College's astronomy professor, Dr. Carrie Fitzgerald. If questions like this interest you, consider MC's astronomy coursesnew window. By taking an astronomy course at Montgomery College, you will gain an appreciation of the Earth's relationship to the universe. The basic laws of physics as they apply to astronomy are covered as are telescopes, data collection, and analysis techniques utilized by astronomers. The course also includes the evolution of stars, the solar system, galaxies, and the origin and evolution of the universe. Laboratory sessions, both computer-based and other, give practical applications to material covered in lectures.

Our top-ranked observatory and planetarium are used as part of the astronomy course curriculum, and for student research. 

Montgomery College does not offer a degree or certificate in astronomy.

MC offers the following nutrition courses: 

ASTR 101 - Introductory Astronomy new window
ASTR 202 - Introduction to Modern Astronomynew window

Astronomersnew window

The Rockville Science Center is home to the Montgomery College Astronomical Observatory. The observatory is used as part of the astronomy course curriculum, student research, as well as education and public outreach projects. Learn more about the observatory and upcoming eventsnew window.

The Montgomery College Planetarium is located on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. The planetarium is used as part of the astronomy course curriculum and for public programs. Learn more about the planetarium and upcoming eventsnew window

Dr. Fitzgerald teaches at Montgomery College in the Engineering, Physical, and Computer Sciences department where she teaches astronomy and physics. She also serves as the director of The Montgomery College Astronomical Observatory located on the Rockville campus. Carrie is proud to be a NASA Solar System Ambassador, providing astronomy education and public outreach for community groups, public schools, and nonprofits.


Political Science Professor Jennifer Haydel will spark your interest in discovering the life stories of people who experienced tough times, exploitation, or human rights issues. As we take this journey together, we'll delve into the magic of memory, the duties we hold, and why memorialization matters.  If you are interested in this topic or  learning about how governments work and how to use, reform, and challenge the system to address problems in your life and your community, consider MC's Political Science coursesnew window

MC does not offer a degree or certificate specifically in political science. If you are interested in studying politics, you can pursue the general studies degree program, specifically the social sciences, administration, and health (SSAH) core, or the International Studies degree program.

Jennifer Haydel teaches Political Science at Montgomery College, offering various courses, including American Government, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. As part of the Renaissance Scholars Honors Program, she co-teaches a learning community that brings together World Literature and Comparative Politics, as well as an honors seminar titled “The Politics of Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation.” She has served as Acting Chair of the Germantown Humanities Department and as co-coordinator of the MC Quantitative Reasoning in the Disciplines Program. Her work focuses on empowering students to participate in global, national, and local politics with a special focus on human rights.


Why aren't we all afforded the same access to the nutrients our bodies need? This and other questions are explored by Montgomery College's nutrition professor Jessica Yamamoto in this episode of Why It Matters. If you are interested in this or other nutrition related topics, consider MC's nutrition coursesnew window. Nutrition courses are offered under the hospitality management curriculum, which is designed to provide a theoretical and practical approach to management in the hospitality industry.

Montgomery College does not offer a degree or certificate in nutrition.

Jessica Yamamoto received her Master of Science in Nutrition Education in 2017 from American University. Jessica presently teaches “Introduction to Nutrition” at Montgomery College and American University. In addition to teaching, Jessica has also enjoyed taking part in programs that put nutrition education into practice by leading cooking demonstrations at local community centers, supporting elementary school gardening and cooking lessons, engaging with and evaluating efforts to improve fruit and vegetable availability in some of the underserved areas of Washington DC, as well as grant reviewing. Jessica also works as a Japanese interpreter in the transportation industry where she also hopes to bring attention to the unique nutrition-related issues that are faced in certain travel-industry occupations.

Jessica has been published in academic journals such as “Scientific Reports” and “Health Equity” on topics relating to food access, diet, and wellness and hopes to positively influence and reduce the barriers that may exist for many with regard to the adequate access to healthy foods.

IDENTITY: What it means to be

What does it mean to be you? Explore the deeper meaning of what it means to be who you are with Montgomery College adjunct professor Bonard Molina García. If you are interested in this topic and exploring the large questions surrounding our existence, you may wish to consider MC's Philosophy coursesnew window. Philosophy training lays a solid academic foundation for numerous majors. By learning to view arguments from multiple perspectives, you can gain understanding of other people's views—even if you do not agree with them. Your reasoning and reflection skills will help you better understand and deconstruct complex problems, a key skill not just in effective communication, but in life.

MC does not offer a degree or certificate in philosophy, though most courses fulfill humanities requirements for the General Studies Humanities, Arts, Communication and Languages Core (HACL) and humanities distribution requirements for the General Education Program. Most philosophy courses transfer to other colleges and universities. Please consult an advisor for additional information.

Bonard teaches philosophy at Montgomery College. Bonard is an international arbitration attorney focusing on dispute resolution in Latin America and Africa, and the author of "Ontological Branding: Power, Privilege, and White Supremacy in a Colorblind World" (Lexington Books, 2022).