2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM


FORD, Robert E., Earth and Biological Sciences, Loma Linda University, School of Science and Technology, Room 121 Griggs Hall, Loma Linda, CA 92350, rford@llu.edu

Over the last fifteen years NSF and NASA have pointed out the need to reform how geoscience is taught at the K-12 and undergraduate levels in the U.S. (NSF, Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (NSF 96-139), Arlington, VA, 1996.) The USRA/ESSE21 project (Earth System Science Education in the 21st Century) has been a key partner in this reform process and has since 1990 led over 50 universities in curriculum reform, learning resource production, and STEM pedagogical evaluation.

A key lesson-learned in the use of the ESS (Earth System Science) approach has been that students are most engaged and challenged when they actively work with faculty in the field where they can observe, collect data, analyze, and model the interaction of both human and biophysical processes within a defined place-based ecosystem such as the Great Salt Lake Basin (GSLB). Furthermore, when such field-based study also addresses real world policy-related issues and problems, they not only learn important team research and technology skills but they also develop crucial decision-making, citizenship, ethical, and social values that have been declared as critical elements for success in the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN-DESD) which began on March 1, 2005 (see http://portal.unesco.org/). As stated in UNESCO's vision statement:

“In a world where every aspect of life is increasingly dependent upon scientific and technological progress, promoting capacity-building and education in science and technology is indispensable for all nations not only to achieve sustainable development but also to create a scientifically and technologically literate citizenry in the interests of ensuring true democracy.”

Over the last ten years, Robert Ford, starting first at Utah State University, then Westminster College, and now at Loma Linda University has been involved in implementing the ESS approach in both the U.S.--focusing on the GSLB--and internationally on the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. This presentation summarizes lessons learned and proposes ways the new GSLB Hydrologic Observatory can best support U.S science education efforts within the larger UN-DESD as well as benefit past and current participants in the ESSE21 program.