2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:10 AM


MAHER Jr, Harmon, Geography and Geology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182-0199, harmon_maher@mail.unomaha.edu

Our university, like many others, is reviewing and assessing its general education (‘gen-ed') goals and objectives. Two basic questions are – what is it that, upon graduation, every one of our undergraduates should know and be able to do, and do they have these knowledge and skills. Geoscience departments typically focus on the major, but a significant percentage of both their resources and measured contribution to institutional productivity (e.g. CHP) is often associated with gen-ed. As gen-ed goals and curriculum are recast nationally and locally, it is natural to reconsider the question - how does, should and can earth science curriculum contribute to gen-ed? This report focuses on where the broader academic community might naturally see contributions from earth science. Two sources used for possible insight are: 1) extensive literature from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2) the results of computer-aided discussions on general education objectives at our university, that involved a diverse array of 150 faculty and staff. This material suggests that, given stated goals and objectives, the broader academic community should be accepting of, if not enthusiastic about, significant and specific contributions from earth sciences. Windows of opportunity include but are not limited to: the scientific method, scientific literacy, historical literacy, evolution, climate change, resource issues (water and energy), visual communication, and risk assessment. With an assessment focus, a useful strategy for geoscience departments to solidify their contribution to gen-ed may be to: 1) identify specific artifacts students can produce in introductory courses which address gen-ed objectives specific to the institute, 2) accumulate and archive artifacts for longitudinal study purposes, 3) develop assessment rubrics that specifically address general education objectives, and 4) provide results to those responsible for gen-ed on your campus.