On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Environmental Geology
Montana State University- Bozeman, MT
Cutting Edge > Environmental Geology > 2012 Workshop > Survey Results

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY PARTICIPANT SURVEY RESULTS

How many sections of Environmental Geology are taught by your department per year
Out of 37 submissions

Sections per Department


What is the average class size per section?
Out of 31 submissions

Average 40
Median 24
Max 260
Min 10

How many hours of teaching (over a quarter or semester) in each section? (Example: in an 18-week semester, 3 hrs/week, the class meets a total of 54 hours).
Out of 31 submissions
Average 62
Median 54
Max 180
Min 28
Average if <75 50


What books do you use in your classes to teach environmental geology? These could include textbooks as well as books written for a more general audience.

  • A Civil Action by J. Harr
  • Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. Reisner, Marc. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. (2)
  • Collapse by Diamond
  • Earthquakes in Human History
  • Environmental Geology, Montgomery, 9th edition McGraw/Hill (7)
  • Environmental Geology, Reichard, J.S. 2011, McGraw-Hill Publishers. New York, NY.
  • Environmental Science, Systems and Solutions, M. McKinney and R. Schoch
  • Future Energy: Improved, Sustainable and Clean Options for Our Planet. Letcher, T.M. (Ed.), 2008. Elsevier: Holland, 376 p.
  • Introduction to Environmental Geology, E.A. Keller (Prentice-Hall), 4th Ed. 2007 (5)
  • Investigations in Environmental Geology, Foley, McKenzie and Utgard (2)
  • Laboratory Exercises in Environmental Geology - Harvey Blatt
  • Lawn people : how grasses, weeds, and chemicals make us who we are Robbins, Paul. Temple University Press, 2007.
  • Living With Earth - Hudson; Investigations in Environmental Geology - Foley et al.
  • Living with Earth by Travis Hudson
  • Natural Hazards and Disasters, Hyndman and Hyndman (3)
  • Natural Hazards, Abbot 4th ed McGraw Hill (3)
  • Natural Hazards, Keller and DeVecchio
  • Ogallala blue : water and life on the High Plains, Ashworth, William. W.W. Norton & Co., 2006.
  • Principles of Environmental Geochemistry, G. Nelson, 2004, Brooks Cole
  • Saving Louisiana? : the battle for coastal wetlands Streever, Bill. University Press of Mississippi, 2001.
  • Silent Spring, Carson, Rachel, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962.
  • Student Project in Environmental Science, S. Harrad et. al.
  • Sustaining the Earth (7th Edition) by G. Tyler Miller Jr.
  • The Blue Planet
  • The Control of Nature, John McPhee (3)
  • The Earth System; Kump, Casting and Crane 3rd ed. (2)
  • The Lorax and the Truax
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey, Edward. Salt Lake City: Dream Garden Press, 1990. Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire, Abbey, Edward. Salt Lake City : Dream Garden Press, 1990.
  • The Two-Mile Time Machine by R. Alley
  • Volcanoes in Human history
  • Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters, Glennon, Robert. Island Press, 2002.
  • Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst. Ward, Diane Raines. New York: Riverhead Books, 2002.

Does your department cover environmental geology topics in other courses? If so, which ones?

20: Environmental Science
13: Natural Hazards
8: Energy and Resources

Other:

Which other departments within your college offer courses that cover topics that you would find in an Environmental Geology courses?

  • Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Energy is offered by Physics
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science and Geography
  • Environmental Studies
  • Ethics
  • Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Geography
  • Geography-Environmental Resources
  • Marine Biology
  • Oceanography
  • Philosophy
  • Physics of energy
  • Political Science
  • Sociology


Do you offer a lab with your lectures for Environmental Geology?

No

9

Yes

26


Are there any prerequisites for your Environmental Geology class?

No

22

Yes

13

If so, what are they?

  • Environmental Science 101 and 102 with lab or Biol 101 and 102 with lab.
  • Introduction to Environmental Science (taught as an intro physical Geography course) or Introduction to Physical Geology
  • Introduction to Geology
  • Pre-College Algebra or College Algebra (although this requirement is not always enforced)
  • Recommended: Organic Chemistry, General Physics
  • General Chemistry


Please indicate which of these topics you teach in your environmental geology classes:

Always

Sometimes

Never

Plate Tectonics

27

2

5

Public Health and Geology

11

12

10

Population growth and carrying capacity

19

8

7

Rock Cycle

21

6

5

Public Policy

10

19

4

Earth's History

10

17

5

Rates; Recurrence Intervals; and Residence Times

23

8

2

Earthquake Hazards

24

3

5

Volcanic Hazards

25

4

4

River/Flood Hazards

28

2

3

Coastal Hazards

16

12

5

Landslides/Mass wasting

23

7

3

Pollution

23

8

1

Mineral Resources

22

8

4

Energy Resources

23

10

1

Water Resources

27

6

1

Soil resources

14

12

6

Effects of urbanization and civilization

17

14

0

Societal responsibility and stewardship

15

14

5

Risk Assessment

13

9

10

Mitigation

16

13

4

Climate Change

24

7

2

Sustainability

14

15

5

Biodiversity

6

12

14


Which other topics, not listed do you think are essential for teaching in this class?

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Biology & Policy
  • Carbon cycle
  • Critical thinking
  • Economics
  • Environmental Justice
  • Environmental Systems
  • Ethics
  • Importance of processes, cycles
  • Scientific method and process
  • Waste management


Which of the following instructional styles do you use in the lecture portion of your class? (If you teach a lab separately, answer only for the lecture portion.

Always

Sometimes

Never

Lecture

27

9

1

Small-group discussion

12

21

3

Large-group brainstorm

12

14

8

Field Trips

15

10

11

In-class demonstrations

14

18

5

In-class problem solving

14

17

4

Oral presentations

16

17

4

Written research papers

14

14

8

iClickers or a similar class response system

4

1

30

Online resources

22

14

0

Gallery Walks

1

5

24

Jigsaws

1

16

16

In class investigations (mini-labs)

8

19

9


What other instructional styles, methods, or strategies do you employ?

  • AdHoc committee projects
  • Concept sketches
  • Small and large group brainstorming, which builds knowledge before beginning a lecture
  • Demonstrations with student volunteers
  • Guest lecture
  • Just-in-time-training
  • Minute papers
  • Poster presentations
  • Problem based learning
  • Random in-class exercises (quizzes that require short answer/diagrams.
  • Role playing (e.g., problem based activities)
  • Self-study bonus
  • Statistical analysis
  • Surveys and interviews
  • Think-pair-share
  • Video play
  • Writing letters to city councils for environmental problems.


Affective Responses

Do you do anything in the classroom to address the emotional effects many students experience when studying environmental issues and society's role?

Always

Sometimes

Never

5

17

13

If so, please describe what you do.

  • If it comes up during class, it may become a discussion depending on how upset/ worried students are - don't dwell on negatives, rather focus on solutions and postive points for future - may even become a homework / research assignment or activity
  • I envision having the students create their own web pages as part of their work to explore issues of science and society that may be emotional for them.
  • I do try to use common misconceptions that arise in other courses (organic farming does not release nutrients; fracking is a new and untested technology; coal can be "clean") to address the role that perception takes in public (and academic) debate
  • One advantage of teaching in a church-owned university is that I can bring up ethical issues. We will, if needed, have full class discussions that are supportinve of diverse opinions.
  • We watch several documentary films that present information with more-or-less obvious political biases. Discussion of these films often elicits discussions of the emotional impacts of learning about the environment, population growth, sustainability issues, and the impacts of personal choices.
  • Sometimes I draw upon personal experience about my feelings about environmental issues. I try to set an example for students and demonstrate that it is okay to have feelings of helplessness or futility, but that I view working for environmental justice a moral imperative. I find that by sharing some of my own ideas and experiences, I can serve as a role model for navigating some of the emotional reactions students might have when faced with dire environmental circumstances. Regarding emotional reactions related to either accepting or rejecting the scientific evidence for climate change, I make the point to clearly distinguish between political opinion and scientifically supported environmental problems like climate change/global warming. Discussions are structured in such a way that all information that is discussed needs to be supported by evidence and this tends to clear up misconceptions and diffuse tension between contrary ideas or positions. I sometimes have the students discuss why the topic is controversial and dissect the nature of controviersial ideas in society. This strategy also helps to diffuse tension and rerout conversation to more productive evidence-based discussion.
  • Depending on the class and events currently in the news I remind students often about the need to remain hopeful and we talk about what they can do to help the situation.
  • Point out that progress is made
  • EcoElvis, Story of Stuff, Perception Video, Paradigm Video
  • There seems to be less of a need when I teach this Env Geology to students needing to fulfill their lab science requirement, than when I teach Environmental Studies to students, many of whom are intending to major/minor in the environmental field. The sense of futility, depression, anxiety, and other seems to come up much more in this second format. We will discuss it as a group and often I will meet with the students separately, especially if I am particularly worried about them.
  • This is a difficult topic. I have had trouble finding a balance between informing the students of the science and creating an empowered student. All too often there is a shroud of helplessness that appears.
  • I show some videos and we discuss the impact on the people in the videos. We also discuss local issues relating to the course and students' personal experiences (and the experiences of family and friends). The topics covered range across all of the course topics, including natural hazards, environmental contamination, mining, and groundwater use.
  • Simply discuss the issue with the whole class and with individuals in my office at various times throughout the semester.
  • We do have discussions in class regarding this. I also ask for reflection papers.
  • Have a journal assignment where students can reflect on the results of their water-use analysis
  • Yes, I try to make sure to present both sides of the issues and have students investigate both sides of issues as well.
  • We begin the semester with the film "The 11th Hour" the first half of which is rather gloomy, but the second half is focused on the things we CAN do to and it gives a hopeful perspective. Post-viewing class discussion is essential to addressing the emotional effects the students feel about environmental issues. We refer back to this discussion throughout the semester as we approach different issues.
  • Discussion, Real life examples.


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