PROMOTING EARTH-SCIENCE LITERACY & THE VALUE OF INDIANA WATER RESOURCES — THROUGH EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT, AND NONPROFIT INITIATIVES
Water Quality Indiana is an interdisciplinary curricular sequence that explores climate change but also documents its impact on drinkable water resources. College students enrolled in the fall-semester course learn how climate change impacts the water cycle and analyze how climate science is communicated through media. The spring-semester colloquium studies Hoosiers’ perceptions of water alongside those from another country’s residents, specifically one where students travel in the summer. This educative sequence promotes greater diversity awareness as students learn about a different culture and its usage and challenges to maintain drinkable water.
Hydrologists from both academic and private entities are promoting sustainable management of both surface-water and groundwater reservoirs through the Indiana Water Monitoring Council. Web-based outreach content is aimed at bringing public awareness to water resource threats such as toxic algal blooms and groundwater contaminants and how water monitoring is essential to managing these concerns. These “water-resources issues pages” are aimed at conveying scientific information such that non-scientists can understand while providing links to related publications. The Council provides a forum for earth scientists and engineers to share strategies and develop partnerships aimed at protecting and managing the state’s freshwater resources.
In the case of the Upper Mississinewa River, watershed coordinators are most effective in building literacy when engaged in “enterprise-based education.” This approach is rooted in grant-writing and other fund procurement efforts. The approach has a problem-solving premise and is linked to specific issues that are real in the lives of target residents and results in direct “on-the-ground” outcomes. It harnesses the “What's In It For Me?” principle and has brought a greater diversity (and quantity) of people to the table than conventional education and outreach efforts.