Paper No. 217-4
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM
THE ROLE OF UNDERGRADUATE MEDICAL GEOLOGY CURRICULUM IN THE CONTEXT OF NEW FEDERAL STEM PRIORITIES
The White House National Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) has set a goal to add one million additional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates to the workforce by 2018. Recently, representatives from 14 federal agencies gathered to explore best practices to improve undergraduate experiences and retention in STEM courses. Moreover, several federal interagency investments, targeted financial commitments, and best practice guidelines have been initiated. At the same time, Medical Geology has re-emerged as a growing discipline, given the importance to the global community of understanding the impacts of geologic materials and processes on human and animal health; addressing global health issues require scientists trained to approach specific problems from an integrated perspective, as well as scientists trained in traditional fields who are prepared to collaborate effectively. Because of its inherent interdisciplinary and problem-based nature, training in Medical Geology has much to offer STEM students. Here, we present a call to establish and enhance formal undergraduate Medical Geology curriculum as part of national CAP efforts. Critical skills needed by STEM professionals—including interdisciplinary problem solving, spatial cognition, global cultural awareness, communication across disciplinary boundaries, and systems thinking—are hallmarks of the Medical Geology curriculum. By implementing carefully designed course and co-curricular activities throughout the undergraduate experience (including non-major STEM courses), medical geologists can play an important role in STEM education. This talk will highlight National strategic priorities and resources to support these efforts, and will provide examples of successful course models and individual activities.