Campus / News / October 21, 2015

Farrer mixes humor with green thumb


New Environmental Studies Assistant Professor Benjamin Farrer stands in the Reference Section of the Seymour Library. (Photo Credit: Knox College Office of Communications)

Visiting Instructor of Environmental Studies Benjamin Farrer is enjoying the music, pizza and people that Galesburg has to offer.

Originally from England, Farrer studied at the University of Leeds for his undergraduate degree and then received his PhD at Binghamton University in upstate New York. Before moving to Galesburg he had been living in Brooklyn, N.Y. for two years.

He said he has enjoyed living in Galesburg and appreciates the reasonable cost of living in the town, but misses the convenience of living in a city.

“Living in Brooklyn was really different. I wish everything was closer together. I don’t have a car, so I walk everywhere. The last couple of winters in New York really changed me. I’m not looking forward to the winter, so I might have to crack and buy a car or something.”

He has also enjoyed American pizza.

“I mean, deep dish was a revelation. I had no idea. I tell people at home about that, they get pretty excited. Everyone loves melted cheese.”

Farrer came to Knox because of the atmosphere, and because he thought it seemed like all the students were doing all kinds of different things.

“It seemed like the people were really supportive. I thought that would be a cool place to be. I also liked the department here; [Associate Professors of Environmental Studies Katherine Adelsberger and Peter Schwartzman] do work that’s very different than mine, but I thought that was really interesting,” Farrer said.

He’s been keeping himself busy playing guitar in the weekly faculty jam sessions with other professors like Professor of Psychology Tim Kasser and Assistant Professor of Psychology Andy Hertel. He also performs at the open mic nights at the Beanhive.

“There’s such a good variety of people who do different things [at the open mic nights]. That’s the best part.”

In addition to the guitar, Farrer plays piano and harmonica. He recently bought a violin and is actively seeking lessons.

Farrer began playing music when he was about 14 years old, when his older sister began piano lessons, and he decided he wanted to become better. Among his favorite music artists are Kimya Dawson, Radiohead, Belle and Sebastian, The Grates and Faithless.

“I saw [Kimya Dawson] play a couple times and she’s also really nice, just … so nice,” he said. “I wish she would just adopt me.”

This trimester, Farrer is helping teach Introduction to Environmental Studies with Schwartzman, but will be teaching Introduction to Environmental Policy and Environmentalism in Democratic Countries next term. He likened his teaching style to a popular British comedian.

“I worry that my lecture style is like a low-budget John Oliver. He has research assistants, probably, and has a week to prepare everything. But I’m not that good. I wish I was that good.”

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  Benjamin Farrer Brooklyn environmental studies guitar Kimya Dawson New York pizza the beanhive

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