GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 233-12
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


BHATTACHARYYA, Prajukti, Department of Geography, Geology, and Environmental Science, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, 120 Upham Hall, 800 Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190, HUSS-LEDERMAN, Susan, Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, 3134 Laurentide Hall, 800 Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190 and DEERING, Brianna, Center for Global Education, Intensive English Institute, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 479 Heide Hall, 800 West Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190,

Transferrable skills, such as the ability to critically evaluate and analyze information, communicate orally and in writing, and the ability to work in teams across cultures are all prized by employers. Interdisciplinary collaborations for science communication and civic engagement can be used for developing these skills. During Spring 2017, students in Geology 301 (Environmental Geology) and English 162, a composition course for international students whose second language is English, collaborated in the Do Now U project. Do Now U, developed jointly by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) and KQED, engages college students in on-line conversations about current scientific issues relevant to society with no clear right or wrong answers. Students had to create a well-researched blog post with appropriate citations on an appropriate topic for the KQED web site to be discussed on social media. Students from two sections of Geology 301 and one section of English 162 were divided in groups of 3-5 based on their respective topics of interest. The groups collaborated face-to-face and on-line to research multiple facets of socially relevant environmental issues using reliable scientific information available in popular media. The instructors and KQED editors picked the entry ultimately published on the KQED web site to start a national discussion.

The two participating courses used this project to meet different course goals. Comments from students’ self-reflection survey indicate that besides gaining content knowledge and developing valuable skills, they also learned the value of effective interpersonal communication while working in groups, enjoyed working with others from different countries, and gained more appreciation of the environmental issues facing today’s society. The project led to rich in-class discussions and overall higher student engagement and ownership of the content material. This was the first exposure to authentic research for English 162 students. They continued on with their research even after the submission of the Do Now U post, and created and presented posters on their topics during Earth Week. This presentation will provide an overview of the lessons learned, and the benefits and challenges of such cross-disciplinary collaborations.