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Congratulations to "On the Cutting Edge"


Posted: Feb 26 2010 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Collaboration, Community
SPORE award notice from Science mag onlineAnnouncement featured on sciencemag.org front page during week of Feb 25, 2010.
Please join me in congratulating Earth & Mind co-editors Cathy Manduca and Dave Mogk, Earth & Mind computer engineer Sean Fox, plus Barb Tewksbury, Heather Macdonald, Ellen Iverson, Karin Kirk, John McDaris, Carol Ormand, and Monica Bruckner, upon their receipt of the "Science Prize for Online Resources in Education." This prize is given by Science magazine, "to encourage innovation and excellence in education, as well as to encourage the use of high quality on-line resources by students, teachers and the public." The group won for their work in developing the "On the Cutting Edge" website, as documented in an essay entitled "On the Cutting Edge: Teaching Help for Geoscience Faculty."

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Geoscience Departments at Risk


Posted: Feb 4 2010 by Cathryn A Manduca
Topics: Collaboration, Community
The current shortfall in state budgets is making this a challenging time for geoscience departments (check out David Steer's insightful article predicting this trauma last year in the NAGT e-news, the recent article in the Jan 1, Science: Recession Hits Some Sciences Hard at Florida State University). The Building Strong Geoscience Department's project has been working for several years to help departments strengthen their programming, their internal management, and the relationship to the institution. Their website is full of good ideas. However, now I'm starting to hear about departments who are doing all of these good things and are still under threat. If being really good at what we do isn't enough, what is our next step? Three things come to mind More

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My Catastrophe is Bigger than Your Catastrophe


Posted: Dec 16 2009 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Collaboration, Energy, Community, Solving Societal Problems, Systems Thinking

A week ago, in my journalism seminar we did a student-produced case study on loss of biodiversity: "The Sixth Extinction." Last week, the lunchtime seminar in my research division at Lamont was a report from the annual conference from the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. The newspaper this week is full of the United National Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

I feel as though the scientific community is pulling itself apart, with biologists drawn to to biodiversity loss, geologists drawn to peak oil, chemists and physicists drawn to climate change. Each faction is trying to draw attention of politicians, the public, and media to their favorite impending disaster. More

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Through a Lens Darkly and Then Face to Face*


Posted: Nov 1 2009 by David W. Mogk
Topics: Perception/Observation, Spatial Thinking, Interpretation/Inference, Field-Based Learning, Temporal Thinking, Systems Thinking, Solving Societal Problems, Community

I've been hiking every Sunday this past fall with a group of geology majors–the Sunday Hiking Club. We are doing a service-learning project to create trailside posters and websites that explain the natural history of popular trails in the mountains surrounding our town. While on our hikes, all of the students are taking digital photographs of their experiences on the trail, and the archives of these images will serve as the raw materials for the story lines we'll present to the public. At the simplest level, our trailside posters will help direct the attention of interested hikers to the wonders they'll encounter along the trail. The premise is that the hike may be a bit more enjoyable and meaningful for recreational hikers if they know what special features to look for along the way. For the hiking public, their original motivation for going on the hike may range from exercise to aesthetics, but we think we can slip in a little science education along the way. The accompanying websites will be a bit more detailed, with in-depth information for further personal investigation with resources such as geologic maps, articles that are accessible for reading by the public, archives of annotated images, and links to related instructional sites. In observing Nature through my own lens, and also observing my students as they themselves look at the world with focused attention through their cameras, I came to realize vaguely at first, and then with increased clarity, the transformative power of photography as an instructional activity. More

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Not Invented Here


Posted: Oct 10 2009 by David W. Mogk
Topics: Community

There appears to be an expectation (or perception) that undergraduate faculty should be designing their own teaching activities to receive academic credit for their instructional efforts. This has resulted in the "not invented here" syndrome, which places little value on implementation of existing instructional activities in favor of development of new instructional activities. This is a rather strange value system in that a) few undergraduate faculty have formal training in curriculum design, aspects of human cognition related to learning, and assessment, b) undergraduate faculty are typically pressed for time as they attempt to meet their instructional, research and service obligations, and c) we all teach "out of field", and it is very difficult to assemble the relevant Science and accompanying instructional resources from diverse, credentialed sources. "Reinventing the wheel" for the sake of local branding of instructional products is both an inefficient and ineffective use of precious faculty time.

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