2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM


BAER, Eric M., Geology Department, Highline Community College, P.O. Box 98000, MS 29-3, Des Moines, WA 98198-9800 and WHITTINGTON, Carla, Geology Department, Highline Community College, P.O. Box 98000, MS 29-3, Des Moines, WA 98198, ebaer@highline.edu

Community colleges provide a unique opportunity to teach geographically relevant geological hazards courses directly to impacted populations who can exact immediate and long-lasting changes on community risk. Of the more than 11 million community college students in the US, many are place-bound, remain in the local area upon graduation, and have a vested interest in the local community. As a result, teaching local geologic hazards in a geology course can have a significant impact on community risk awareness. At Highline Community College, near Seattle, we offer a geologic hazards course that focuses on risk associated with living in the Puget Sound region. Despite its reputation for rigor, students at Highline Community College choose the hazards course 3 to 1 over the more traditional geology course. Students also recommend the course because of the impact of the capstone project/paper in which students analyze their risk for relevant geologic hazards for the Puget Sound region. Students leave the course with a deep understanding of the geologic risk under which they live, and appropriate strategies for mitigating that risk. These students report communicating with their families, workplaces and community groups, their new-found discoveries, effectively disseminating cutting-edge geologic hazard research and further informing others on how to mitigate risk. The course produces some of the most geologically well-informed citizens in the Pacific Northwest because the students rely on primary research products (such as hazard maps and professional papers). This community-based local risk education program is ideal for community colleges or universities that draw primarily from local populations in areas with significant geologic risk. Because of the regional nature of community college populations, it might be difficult to mimic this experience at a four-year institution with students who will scatter after graduation.