Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM
COMBATING GREEN APATHY: DEVELOPING GRASS-ROOT INTEREST IN SUSTAINABILITY VIA COLLABORATIVE CROSS-CURRICULAR EXPERIENTIAL ACTIVITIES
The potential of “green issue” apathy is real. Therefore an alternative approach to stimulate interest in a new generation of undergraduates to the culture of sustainability is critical. We developed a course unique to our university that promotes a highly innovative cross-curricular collaboration between the departments of Geography and English. We targeted ENGL 338, Technical Writing, a class traditionally filled by students representing a cross section of the university population. This course allowed us to blend Earth Science majors and those from non-science focused disciplines all with varied sustainability attitudes and experiences in undertaking basic environmental monitoring and data analysis. The goal was to deliver an experiential experience that enhanced participants’ understanding and awareness of their environment and provided them with a direct connection to explore our impact on the Frostburg State University campus environment. The collaboration between geoscience and non-geoscience focused students was beneficial as the physical data collection forced them all to explore, discuss and contemplate the larger-scale concept of human impacts on the environment. The objectives we set for the students could only be achieved by inquiry-based experiential learning. We asked them to install field equipment (moisture sensors), monitor soil and weather conditions, and generate a comprehensive written report recording soil moisture characteristics on the FSU campus. This model began in the fall semester of 2011 with a cohort of 44 students and was so successful that it has been repeated each year. Based on personal communications with participating students, we will survey students at the end of the Fall 2013 semester to measure whether higher-levels of environmental awareness and increased interest in sustainability have resulted from this collaboration.