2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

An Interdisciplinary Program to Encourage and Prepare Students for Environmental Research

THOMPSON, Douglas M., Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics, Connecticut College, Box 5585, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320 and ASKINS, Robert A., Biology, Connecticut College, Box 5461, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320, dmtho@conncoll.edu

Connecticut College, a small liberal arts undergraduate institution, sponsors an innovative certificate program in environmental studies that is open to students with any academic major. The program is designed to encourage hands-on work in environmental research and application for a select number of students who initially apply to the program in their sophomore year. The student applications must describe how a set of courses and a summer internship will prepare them for their capstone experience, a senior integrative research project. Beginning in the second semester of the sophomore year, certificate students participate in a seminar course that emphasizes student presentations and class discussion. Seniors in the program adopt a leadership role when describing their internship experience and ongoing research. Oral skills are emphasized with several presentations by each student, with written feedback from faculty and students. Juniors focus on honing their plan for a summer internship, which will be completed during the summer following the junior year. Sophomores initially participate as discussants, with the hope that they will learn the best approach to pursue their own interests from the experiences presented by the seniors. The seminar also includes presentations from invited speakers and book discussions focused on an environmental theme that changes each semester. This certificate program successfully brings together students and faculty from a wide range of disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts. The common focus is on learning how to understand and solve environmental problems.