2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 11-2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM


MANDUCA, Cathryn A., Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057, PHILLIPS, Michael A., Natural Sciences, Illinois Valley Community College, 815 N. Orlando Smith Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348-9692, MOGK, David W., Earth Sciences, Montana State University, PO Box 173480, Bozeman, MT 59717 and GOSSELIN, David C., Environmental Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 150 Hardin Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0941

Enrollments are broadened when learning about the Earth is placed in the context of issues that are important to students. This approach also strengthens learning by building on students’ prior knowledge, and providing rich ways for students to integrate new knowledge. However, few geoscience faculty feel comfortable designing a course that requires significant expertise from other disciplines. Transdisciplinary instruction has been facilitated through a series of workshops by the InTeGrate and On the Cutting Edge programs: Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences; Teaching Environmental Justice; Engineering, Sustainability and the Geosciences; Teaching Risk and Resilience; Teaching GeoEthics; Geology and Human Health; and Teaching Public Policy. We are struck by the difficulty of obtaining the depth and nuance of understanding that is needed to teach about these topics without interdisciplinary collaboration. Faculty from humanities and social sciences are especially prepared to guide students’ analytical, ethical comprehension of issues involving power, class, race, gender, and justice. Faculty in engineering and social scientists can link an understanding of environmental and resource problems with solutions. Faculty from beyond the sciences bring experience with teaching methods such as case studies, analysis of narratives, and film critique that can be particularly powerful for transdisciplinary topics. They can also help students understand the potential impact of service learning or undergraduate research projects on stakeholders and the considerations this requires. Strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration on teaching range from becoming friends with faculty in other disciplines, engaging them in conversations and requesting their advice to models for team teaching within or across courses. This process can begin at on-campus faculty workshops or by talking with friends from other departments. The next step can be to ask a colleague to exchange guest lectures. Information on these strategies, examples of transdisciplinary courses, peer-reviewed teaching materials and tested modules for introductory courses are available on the InTeGrate and On the Cutting Edge websites.