Three courses have been selected to join our SENCER Model Series this summer, bringing the total of our collection of examples of successful, effective methods to address issues of concern to society to 30. The models published this year are diverse in their foci, but all, in some way, consider a critical issue: the sustainability of resources and the ecosystem. The individual authors address the idea through the topics of nutrition and health and water systems, both global and local, but all encourage students to realize the effects of human activity on the health of their communities. Two of the models selected, Slow Food by Marion Fass, and Science on the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline, by James Tait and Vincent Breslin, are called “emerging” models because they are new courses that were developed as a result of their authors’ participation in the SENCER project. Because they are new courses, “emerging” models are presented as “works-in-progress” and examples of the diverse approaches and strategies that SENCER alumni have used to improve science education in their home institutions.
The new models will be featured during sessions at the 2007 SENCER Summer Institute in Portland, Maine. The full text of each will also be added to our website (Resources) soon, where they will be available for download, along with all other SENCER model courses. Below are brief summaries of the courses.
Featured Model: The Power of Water
Alix Dowling Fink and Michelle L. Parry, Longwood University
The Power of Water (POW) is an interdisciplinary science course that engages students in considering significant social issues related to global water resources and in learning the basic chemistry, physics, biology, and earth science concepts that underlie those issues. POW, a product of Longwood University’s SENCER involvement, supports our General Education science goal and is a recommended goal course for our pre-service K-8 teachers. During a session at SSI 2007, one of the model developers, Alix Fink, will discuss the evolution of this SENCER course from inception to its current form, the resources and strategies used in the continued development of the course, and the challenges faced along the way.
Emerging Model: Slow Food
Marion Fass, Beloit College
We are what we eat, and what we eat shapes the environment around us. This model course on Slow Food that explores the connections of food, culture and corporations, looks at issues of food, biodiversity and sustainability, to explore local food and paradox of increasing rates of obesity and increasing rates of food insecurity. The model focuses on activities that engage students with the local community, its “foodshed,” its farmer’s markets, and the problems of hunger.
The Slow Food movement promotes good taste, eating local and preserving biodiversity. As the basis for a course, Slow Food offers students an optimistic perspective for analyzing a challenging set of issues. The Slow Food course curriculum brings together the sciences of nutrition, agricultural and ecology with an understanding of the economic and cultural factors that shape how we eat in the United States and possible strategies to build more sustainable practices. Readers of this model will get ideas of how to design service learning projects for their communities that enable students to respectfully use their skills, to contribute to community needs, and to enhance their understanding of local issues.
Emerging Model: Science on the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline
James Tait and Vincent Breslin, Southern Connecticut State University
Science and the Connecticut Coast is course that fulfills the laboratory science requirement for non-science majors in the Honors College at Southern Connecticut State University. The course is divided into four modules covering geology, coastal processes, coastal pollution, and climate change and addresses key environmental questions, including: How have past harbor sediment contamination affected the quality of New Haven Harbor ecosystems? How can we assess hurricane preparedness and potential impact? What are the potential consequences of climate change on Connecticut residents and how can the emission of greenhouse gasses be minimized? Lectures and labs are accompanied by weekly field exercises where students collect data and record observations which are posted on-line. Results of the HON 270 analyses have contributed to a GIS data base of sediment metal analyses in New Haven harbor and have been presented at regional Long Island Sound Research Conferences.