Paper No. 75-9
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM
BRINGING ENGINEERS AND GEOSCIENTISTS TOGETHER TO IMPROVE UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY
Addressing societal needs related to sustainability requires interdisciplinary teams with complementary skills. To help address the need to develop such a future workforce, a workshop on Engineering, Sustainability, and the Geosciences was held at the Colorado School of Mines in March, 2013, bringing together engineers and geoscientists from 30 different institutions. The workshop was an activity of InTeGrate, which is the NSF STEP center in geoscience, and which has a primary goal of developing a citizenry and workforce that can address environmental and resource issues facing our society. The workshop identified current best practices in integrating geoscience and engineering education, particularly on topics related to sustainability, and looked at the geoscience education needs of engineers, engineering education needs of geoscientists, and new approaches to meet those needs. Participants contributed example activities, activity ideas, and courses in addition to essays describing how they integrate geoscience and engineering in the classroom, which are available in the InTeGrate teaching material collections. The workshop also informed web pages about integrating geoscience and engineering in the classroom, strategies for interdisciplinary teaching, teaching with real-world examples, and building a culture of collaboration among disciplines.
Mixed teams of geoscientists and engineers were formed during the workshop and each team developed an outline of a potential new module or course during the workshop. Two of the key elements that the participants felt were important to consider when designing and using interdisciplinary educational modules were: 1. Integrating engineering, geoscience and social science instruction is powerful because it provides a context for learning, allows students to address complicated problems, and gives practice working in teams as they will encounter in the workforce; and 2: Engineers and geoscientists have distinctively different roles, approaches and perspectives. Successful engineering projects involving Earth materials or processes rely upon mutual appreciation of these differences and close collaboration between constituents.
A workshop synthesis is available at: http://serc.carleton.edu/71086