published April 1, 2008

SENCER E-Newsletter, April 2008, Volume 7, Issue 6

30 Teams Selected to Participate in SSI 2008


Thirty teams and 22 individuals representing 51 colleges, universities, and other educational organizations have been invited to attend SSI 2008, which will be hosted by Santa Clara University. The group of participants includes several institutions new to SENCER, strong alumni teams, and a growing contingent of educators working on mathematics, engineering, and biodiversity courses. We are also pleased to welcome undergraduate and graduate students who will participate as individual representatives and as part of institutional teams. The interests represented by the teams are diverse, and the expertise is broad. Many participants share interests in incorporating SENCER into courses for STEM majors, improving teacher education, focusing on first year courses, exploring articulation issues, and developing course series. Topics of interest include traffic, watersheds and resources, the food supply, health, computer literacy, and alternative energy resources. Brief background information on teams and their goals are included below, and a list of all invited institutions is on page 13. A * indicates the team leader.


Arkansas State University


Alan Christian, Erik Gibson, Steven Green, Robyn Hannigan*, Tillman Kennon, John Pratte


Following participation in SSI 2007, faculty from ASU developed an undergraduate degree program in environmental science and a course in atmospheric dynamics that uses our BalloonSAT Project. The first course of the environmental degree program will be taught in the fall of 2008. In the atmospheric dynamics course, students fly high-altitude weather balloons that carry student-designed instrumentation to measure various aspects of the atmosphere. These balloons carry payloads built by local school systems, giving our students an opportunity to interact with teachers and students in the 7-12 system. At SSI 2008, the team hopes to (1) finalize details on the degree program, (2) get input on the designed course, and (3) disseminate information about the atmospheric dynamics course, as well as a recently developed energy and the environment course.


Boise State University

David Wilkins*, Ken Cornell, James Ferguson, Chris Hill, Kimber Shaw


Boise State University team members have a keen interest in increasing interdisciplinary interactions and teaching collaborations, as well as increasing the research exposure and experiences of our science undergraduates. Boise State has just finished the "Focus the Nation" experience, and as an institution is working towards increasing student awareness and engagement in global change and energy issues. To that end, the team plans to develop a series of courses in the sciences and engineering that lead the students through the process of directed engaged research, beginning in their freshman year and culminating their senior year. While the current topic centers on global change issues, there are many ancillary cross-cutting topics that could be addressed through directed research. Following SSI 2008, team members will offer faculty workshops through the University's Center for Teaching and Learning and investigate funding sources to support the development of new science and engineering curriculum models.


Brigham Young University


Gary Booth*, Eric Jellen, Richard Swan, Jessica Rosenvall, Steven Wood


Brigham Young University (Utah) has applied SENCER methods to the Biology 100 curriculum with much success, and now plans to extend the approach to three other courses that make up a Freshman Academy community for science majors: Biology 120, Chemistry 105, and Religion 121. Courses will incorporate societal issues that relate to the Utah Valley environment and complement the new environmental science B.S. program (2007). Specifically, students will examine issues relating to invasive species, renewable energy development, pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, food production and safety, loss of native pollinators, endangered species, use of natural products as cures for human diseases, and loss of wetlands. Progress in the development of this program will be monitored and evaluated by a SENCER committee chaired by Gary Booth, a SENCER alumnus.


Brigham Young Univeristy - Idaho


Gary Baird, Steven Christenson*, Robert Clayton, Kent Davis, Michael Groesbeck, David Johnson, Seth Ririe


BYU-Idaho is revamping its general education courses with the goal that all courses teach real life skills and provide a foundation for future learning. Eight teams of 3-4 faculty from multiple departments have been charged with the development of issues based, interdisciplinary science courses that focus on process and deeper learning. The proposed new courses at BYU-Idaho, scheduled to launch in the winter of 2009, will address energy alternatives for the 21st century, surviving natural disasters, global climate change, environmental impacts of an increasing human population, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, biotechnology, the science of sensory perception, and the physical and biological science behind creation. Faculty representing five of these development groups make up the SSI 2008 team. Team members hope to gain knowledge and experience on designing and implementing interdisciplinary, issues based courses that engage students and emphasize civic responsibility. They are also focused on learning about effective assessment techniques and tools that may be incorporated into each new course.


Butler University


Olujide Akinbo, Margaret Brabant, Donald Braid, Bob Holm, Joseph Kirsch*, Philp Villani


Butler University is in the process of implementing a new core curriculum that includes a capstone course and an Indianapolis Community Requirement. The capstone course is a junior - senior requirement that addresses social issues through interactions with the external community. The Indianapolis Community Requirement is composed of a set of civic engagement expectations that can be attached to courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Butler is in the process of developing new courses for this core program, and SSI 2008 team members are interested in learning from others and sharing the team's experiences in civic engagement course development. Butler University team members have developed and taught courses on urban ecology (fall 2007) and environmental science (spring 2008), and are currently developing courses on water quality and food, pasture, table, body, and mind - both of which will be offered in the fall 2008 semester.


College of Staten Island-CUNY

June Como, Regina Gonzalez Lama, Mary O'Donnell*, Eileen Quagliano


Educational preparation of nursing students in the 21st century must be accomplished within a changing health care delivery environment that incorporates science, technology, civic and global aspects of the lived experience. Shifting dynamics pose challenges for faculty in meeting the educational needs of a diverse, non-traditional student nursing body and in preparing clinically competent health care professionals. Multidisciplinary approaches that incorporate emphasis on science and technology are needed to address the active adult learner. Through high fidelity simulation in the undergraduate curriculum that involves carefully planned scenarios that display the ramifications of medication errors and patient safety issues in the individual, within the family, and within the community, students will be able to learn in a low stress but challenging environment. Inclusion of critical thinking, reflection, and open dialogue during debriefing sessions will assist the student in attaining decision-making skills needed to provide safe care. The College of Staten Island team hopes to gain tools to expand on course and curriculum change, to learn about outcome analysis related to critical thinking, and to explore stronger links between civic issues, nursing, and education.


Edison College


Steve Atkins, Cheryl Black, Wendy Chase, Marius Coman, Theo Koupelis*, Peggy Romeo


The team from Edison College is interested in learning more about SENCER and how to implement changes into the curriculum to foster deeper learning. Several members of the team would like to gather ideas about how to set up a cohesive interdisciplinary courses on controversial and complex issues. Ocean conservation, habitat loss, species diversity, physics, and engineering are areas that the team may apply SENCER to after their time at the Institute. The team plans to meet on a monthly basis and design a proposal to create the culture necessary to embrace interdisciplinary approaches and involve students in civic engagement efforts both in and outside the classroom. Following SSI 2008, team members will offer presentation on all campuses, work with the professional development committee, and develop courses by the spring of 2009.


Franklin Pierce University


Michelle Comeau, Donna Dauphinais, Frank Hubacz, Emlee Kohler, Frederick Rogers*


The Franklin Pierce University team have in the past taught in, or at present teach in, a team-taught, year-long, introductory-level course sequence in the Division of Natural Sciences called Integrated Science I & II, Evolution Track. [The Integrated Science course has two tracks, the above-mentioned Evolution Track and the Environmental Track.] At the end of the academic year following SSI 2008, the team would like to finalize the course structure and specific issues to be covered. They plan to consider new technologies that might be of use, how best to assess student learning, and how best to assess course learning outcomes in both formative and summative senses. The team hopes to identify the specific adjustments needed to continue to increase the quality of the content and delivery of the course in subsequent years, especially regarding the integration of field trips and information from Focus the Nation, International Polar Year, and Will Steger's expeditions into the fabric of the course. The team plans to share results of their work thus far with SSI 2008 colleagues and seek feedback from other participants about the course structure, materials, and assessment methods.

Georgia College & State University

Amy Kelley, Karynne Kleine, Julia Metzker*, a student to be announced


Georgia College & State University is a public liberal arts university whose mission is to provide a high quality liberal arts education. Consequently, the SENCER approach of integrating science and civic issues across the curriculum is particularly relevant to the university. Team members from Georgia College & State University have already developed a SENCER math/science cluster and a course for middle-grades teacher education students in their graduating year. In the fall of 2008, they will launch a faculty development initiative supported by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the New Faculty Orientation planning group, and GCSU administration that encourages those teaching SENCER courses to mentor new faculty members. The work already being done complements plans by the Georgia state university system to radically redesign the core curriculum so that it is based on relevant, interdisciplinary themes.


Harold Washington College


Farrokh Asadi, Tim Donohue, Dennis Lehman*, John Metoyer, Chris Sabino


Harold Washington College has used the SENCER approach to develop cohorts based on public health issues that particularly affect residents of the Chicago metropolitan area. The first cluster focused on the issue of asthma in urban areas. Faculty then developed a cohort focused on childhood obesity that includes remedial courses in mathematics and writing. The team plans to continue to develop similar cohorts around other civic issues, including aging, computer literacy in the Hispanic community, Great Lakes water resources, global warming, and energy conservation. They would also like to continue to improve the two public health cohorts and to increase the number of faculty involved in SENCER courses.


Harry S Truman College


Pervez Rahman*, Mahesh Gurung, Yvonne Harris, Raymund Torralba, Joshua Jones


The Truman SENCER team has planned, designed and implemented the Truman Environmental Intervention Project in the Chicago area. The Truman Environmental Intervention Project (TEIP) has designed a student driven course to examine various environmental risks that threaten public health in Chicago, especially in lower income areas. The project focuses on particulate matter 2.5, which has been shown to penetrate the lungs and has been implicated by numerous scientific studies in human respiratory diseases and discomfort, especially among the children and the elderly. Students learn how to measure air quality and investigate some of the socio-cultural, environmental, and economic factors that contribute to incidents of environmental and socioeconomic segregation that threaten the ecology and health of the entire community. The team plans to share the results of the project and seek feedback from colleagues. They would like to build partnerships and collaborations with people who are working on similar projects and or have similar concerns and objectives.


Kapi'olani Community College


John Berestecky, Robert Franco*, Wendy Kuntz, Robert Moeng, John Rand


The team from Kapi'olani is interested in how first-year SENCER courses for non-majors might lead more students into their NSF-STEM transfer pathways in engineering, ecology, biotech and human physiology. Through participation in SSI 2008, they intend to expand on the work they have already done with the Science of Sleep course and develop a sharper focus on the complex, capacious public issue of species extinction in Hawaii and the Pacific. This sharper focusmight initially occur within existing biology and ecology courses with service-learning components and then later move into a first-year science course for non-science majors. Following participation in SSI 2008, the team will link the Service-Learning Environmental Stewardship pathway with the STEM Ecology pathway and then develop the species extinction course in 2009-2010. They will track students in the service-learning pathway across four semesters and record the number of students who transition into the STEM Ecology pathway. They will also measure the impact of these students on the local environment through existing service-learning assessment methods.


Lipscomb University


Jim Arnett, Ben Hutchinson*, Autumn Marshall, Marcia Stewart


Team members from Lipscomb University are interested in enhancing learning in the sciences by implementing civic engagement and service-learning into their courses, particularly into courses that will form a general education science sequence. The topics that particularly interest the developers and are of relevance to students are storm water waste, water pollution, and conservation/sustainability in a city environment. A sequence that focuses on water concerns and uses of corn is already planned, and team members will use experiences at SSI 2008 to contribute to the design and assessment of the sequence.


Macon State College

David Fuller, Sumitra Himangshu*, Malav Shah, Faculty member to be decided


Macon State College is an open access college that has added 4-year baccalaureate degrees to the campus curriculum, including programs that award degrees in STEM disciplines and in science and math education. The University System of Georgia recently began an initiative to increase the number of K-12 students interested in STEM fields, increase the number of college students who pursue STEM disciplines, and increase the number of quality teachers prepared in STEM fields. Macon State College team members feel that the SENCER approach is a successful way to achieve campus and state-wide goals of improving STEM education. Faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education have partnered to identify goals and topics of interest for SENCER courses. One, directed to teacher education students, focuses on evolution and biodiversity. Students in this course explore the concepts of evolution, natural selection, and biodiversity, and learn how to best approach these topics and to feel comfortable using inquiry-based methods. Biology and math courses engage students on the issue of energy, use, and global climate change. Students in these courses work in groups and give presentations on their work to schools and other local organizations to reinforce the connection of this issue to everyday life.


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts


Anne Goodwin, Robert Harris, Emily Maher, Adrienne Wootters*


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts sends three new faculty members and one alumna to the Institute to work on new programs and share results of on-campus work. The team has extensive experience with teacher preparation, case-based learning, and program assessment, including the implementation of e-portfolios across the Science Core. As part of a statewide initiative to prepare and keep scientists and engineers in Massachusetts, the college works with locals schools on programs for students and teachers, community colleges, and the community itself. This year, team members want to find ways to support a vibrant and growing Environmental Studies program, both by using out of the classroom resources and by folding the addressing of environmental concerns into our own subject-based classes. They are also interested in assessment tools that may help them evaluate their core science/technology program in a way that will not significantly further stretch their already stretched resources.


Metropolitan State University


Mark Grunewald, Sarah Hansen, Cindy Kaus*, Rikki Wagstrom


The team from Metropolitan State University hopes to continue the momentum of incorporating civic engagement into the mathematics curriculum and also to increase the effectiveness of these new curricula. Cindy Kaus intends to improve on and share the outcomes of her second semester of teaching introductory statistics with community based projects, her collaboration with Mark Grunewald in developing a similar course for community faculty, and her plans for developing a general education course in mathematics and social justice. Rikki Wagstrom intends to share and improve on the outcomes of the development of a pre-college algebra level course that teaches algebra concepts through modeling and environmental issues. Sarah Hansen, math and science tutoring center coordinator, hopes to learn ways she can incorporate service learning and civic engagement into the math-science tutoring center. Mark Grunewald wants to learn more about the SENCER philosophy so that he will have a better idea of how to incorporate civic issues into mini projects, group work and an introductory statistics course taught by community faculty.


Middle Tennessee State University


Judith Iriarte-Gross, Martha Weller*, two students to be decided


The SENCER course at Middle Tennessee State University focuses energy and the environment and aims to increase student interest in science and involvement in campus and community activities. In the course, students learn about organic energy/chemical energy obtained by burning carbon-based materials, nuclear energy, and solar energy and the implications of each to local communities. Instructors explicitly address environmental consequences associated with the production, delivery, and consumption of power derived from each of these sources. In the year following attendance, MTSU faculty will continue to improve the course, possibly restructuring the schedule and increasing focus on specific skills. Results from the SENCER-SALG and TOSRA assessment instruments will be evaluated and compared with results obtained from control sections of students enrolled in the standard general education physical science course. Weller and Iriarte-Gross will develop common test questions to be used in both the SENCER course and the control sections of the course to compare actual student achievement.


Montgomery College

Ralph Bain, Marlinda Boxley, Chris Haga, Adel Halli, Rita Kranidis, Linda Mona, Max Nam*


Two courses at Montgomery College (MC) have been revitalized as a result of attendance at previous SENCER Summer Institutes, including the lecture and the associated lab sections for Chemistry and Society, and Introduction to Geography. The success of SENCER approach in these courses continues to stimulate interest in the possible creation of modules in the science courses currently being taught by the team members. Following participation in SSI 2008, team members hope to implement the SENCER approach in a physics course and to develop three modules for a chemistry laboratory that incorporate writing exercises. The modules would augment the laboratory experience with higher order cognitive tasks as part of chemical analysis of soil, water, and gases in the atmosphere.


New York University


Peter Bower (Barnard College), Saugata Datta (Georgia College & State University), Arthur Kney (Lafayette College), Joseph Liddicoat*


The multi-institutional team from New York University, Barnard College, Lafayette College, and Georgia College and State University will demonstrate a new version of the SENCER Model Course, Brownfield Action. Brownfield Action is a semester-long lecture and laboratory activity where students address a real environmental problem using a virtual brownfield that must be explored from a variety of directions, each emphasizing critical thinking. Faculty plan to track the students after the courses are completed to determine how the issues discussed in the courses are translated into action in their employment and everyday life though civic involvement. Further dissemination of Brownfield Action to faculty from other colleges and universities, representatives of government, environmental consulting firms, and community organizations all involved in the conversion of brownfields into productive properties, will be pursued with vigor.


Northeastern Illinois University


Sargon Al-Bazi, Gregory Anderson, Abhijit Banerjee, John Kasmer, David Rutschman*, Kenneth Voglesonger


Northeastern Illinois University is in the initial stage of proposing and planning an interdisciplinary major in environmental science. Team members hope that participation in SSI 2008 will aid in their planning and inspire them to direct the focus of the proposed program toward addressing local and global civic issues and problems. Environmental issues the program would address include energy, air quality, water, urban sprawl, transportation, waste, and industrial contamination. The team plans to complete the curricular and administrative design of the new program and to ready it for launch in the fall of 2009. They are especially interested in interdisciplinary collaboration, introducing the element of civic engagement in our STEM courses, and increasing student interest in science.


Northland College


Andy Goyke, Rick Fairbanks*, Mark Leach, Jim Meeker, Annette Nelson, Kevin Schanning, Gus Smith


Northland College has participated in Summer Institutes for two years, and team members have used the experiences to develop and revise several courses. Faculty at Northland teach through such topics as the social carrying capacity for timberwolf populations, the affect of deer browse on stands of Canada yew, water quality in Lake Superior, and the effect of an ongoing drought on native stands of wild rice. The college is now in the midst of implementing a highly integrated general education program and interdisciplinary majors. At the Institute, team members will gather more information on successful examples of engaged, active, experiential learning and teaching in science courses. They will take this information and use it to develop models of integrated blocks of courses that will be part of the new general education program. Team members are also interested in science major programs that take into account calls for preparing students for interdisciplinary work in the sciences. They will use this information to evaluate already proposed new majors at Northland and to further refine the programs.


Oglethorpe University

Keith Aufderheide*, John Cramer, Judith Gieger, John Nardo, Michael Rulison, Lawrence Schall


The team from Oglethorpe University works to increase the engagement of their STEM students in their own education and thereby to concurrently increase enrollment in the associated courses, increase subscriptions to the associated majors and minors, and enhance the success and retention rates of the affected students. Simultaneously, they would like to see a shift from majors and minors whose sole goal is health professional school to a population more interested in pursuing actual careers and/or graduate education in one of the actual STEM fields. Team members will explore formative assessment methods, broaden their exposure to the SENCER ideals & approach, and share results of their activities with the community. Following SSI 2008, the team plans to offer a one-hour course for second semester freshman focused on issues of traffic, a persistent issue in Atlanta, Georgia. Students will explore the interplay between science and mathematics on the one hand, and law, politics, government, health and other quality of life concerns, regional planning and special interest groups on the other. The canonical scientific and mathematical implications and connections are obvious heat island effects and local weather, pollution, engine design and fuels, mathematical modeling of the traffic flow, health concerns such as asthma, hypertension and cardiopulmonary diseases, and so forth.


Southern Connecticut State University


Therese Bennett, James Dolan, William Faraclas, DonnaJean Fredeen*, Ozcan Gulacar, Nicole Henderson, Carlos Ramirez-Torres


Southern Connecticut State University is continuing its efforts to bring SENCER to many courses in the general education program as well as the sciences. Two model courses, Science on the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline and Computer Ethics, have emerged from work at SCSU. The goal for the SSI 2008 team is to expand the ideal of SENCER to more faculty, more disciplines, and more classrooms. SCSU will begin the course development stage of the new general education program in fall 2008 and will use the SENCER approach to address several areas of knowledge and to encourage critical thinking and quantitative reasoning. Biology, chemistry, and physics courses are early candidates, with initial focus areas as the dumping of nuclear waste on reservations, pandemic diseases, vaccines, and/or climate change. The SENCER approach is also ideally suited for the teaching of the Freshmen Year seminar, which promotes an appreciation of the role of science in obtaining a liberal education. Science education courses will also be developed with ideas and information gathered at the Institute.


Stony Brook University


Gary Halada*, Ridha Kamoua, Chad Korach, Balaji Sitharaman


The Stony Brook team focuses on how to improve teaching and learning of nanotechnology and nanoscience through the incorporation of materials and activities which explore the broader impacts of nanotechnology on societal issues. Research in engineering education has shown that it is essential to provide a social, economic and ethical context to application of nanotechnology in manufacturing, medicine, and other contextual areas driving research. At the Institute, the team will seek to explore learning and teaching methods in a SENCER context to further these goals. In addition, the team will use the opportunities provided by the Institute to establish contacts with potential collaborators interested in developing materials and activities related to these goals. The team members also seek to improve their understanding of relevant assessment tools and teaching methods that can enhance the overall effectiveness of student learning in engineering, especially in an area as challenging as nanotechnology. In the coming year the team will develop methods for adding civic content (for example, societal implications, regulatory and policy decision making, benefit versus risk studies) to first and second year courses on nanotechnology. They plan to team with faculty from other departments an external collaborators who can help to develop classroom activities which can engage students in the broader impacts of emerging nanotechnologies, including societal and ethical considerations. These activities and teaching materials will be incorporated into courses taught for both first year undergraduate learning community (Undergraduate College for Information and Technology Studies) seminars and for a sophomore class developed for a new NSF-sponsored minor in Nanotechnology Studies at Stony Brook University.


Texas Woman's University


Don Edwards*, Richard Jones, Cynthia Maguire, Sarah McIntire, Richard Sheardy, Ann Staton


The team from Texas Woman's University works to engage students in informed, civically responsible, scientific discourse aimed at achieving several goals: (1) to increase the integration of civic responsibility into the science curriculum, (2) to attract women and minority students to STEM fields, (3) to foster positive attitudes throughout the TWU community toward an integrated curriculum approach to liberal arts teaching, (4) to develop and incorporate appropriate assessments of student outcomes in science, and (5) to prepare effective P-12 teachers who are committed to infusing science literacy and civic responsibility into their classrooms. Following SSI 2008, the team plans to complete the development of Our World at Risk: Global Issues In Science. The course will address significant global issues from scientific, sociological, and ethical perspectives and illuminate the multiple ways in which these issues affect daily lives, especially those of women and families. Team members will offer workshops and design a website to disseminate information about SENCER and the team's work on-campus, and will work to create a partnership with at least one local school district to encourage K-16 collaboration.


University of California, Riverside


Mihri Ozkan, Thomas Payne*, Junlan Wang, Victor Zordan

The engineering undergraduate curriculum is weighted heavily toward math, science, and engineering course work, for obvious reasons, yet it is essential that engineers understand the social context of the work they do. Modern engineering is collaborative with customers, with suppliers, and with colleagues working around the world. Today's engineers are working at the frontiers of ethics questions such as privacy, public safety, the definitions of life, and the impacts of nanotechnology tug at what is technically feasible. The team's first priority for the SENCER experience, then, is to build thoughtful discussion of these topics into the core engineering curriculum. They would also like to see more non-engineering majors, particularly from business and the humanities, learn more about engineering. Broad-based courses that focus on engineering's role in society, rather than the tools and skills necessary to be an engineer, will broaden the awareness of what engineering is and the context in which it works.


University of Maryland


Spencer Benson*, David Hawthorne, Robert Hudson, Ann Smith


In fall of 2007 the University of Maryland launched a new initiative aimed at science education the Marquee Courses in Science and Technology. The six new courses are an innovative approach to science instruction of non-science majors via the UM general education program. The current Marquee course set includes Weather and Climate, The Insects Pollinators in Crisis, Engineering Issues in Medicine, The Materials of Civilization, Biogenesis Making a Habitable Planet, and Physics for Decision Makers: The Global Energy Crisis. All of the courses are being developed as lecture - learning laboratory courses that are delivered as high enrollment courses of 60-180 students, maximizing their impact at a large state university. The Marquee courses encourage students to look at science and technology through the lens of the world, personally relevant issues, and their future careers. By participating in SSI 2008, team members hope to gain new ideas of what is possible, what works, and learn about challenges that others have identified and solved. They will develop authentic assessment protocols for measuring impacts and student learning in the Marquee courses, and will use the experience to strengthen the community of practice that the Marquee faculty group has established.


University of South Carolina Sumter


Pearl Fernandes*, Rigoberto Florez, Jeff Steinmetz, faculty member to be decided


The team from the University of South Carolina Sumter is an interdisciplinary group with extensive experience in applying the SENCER method to courses. One project is a collaboration between English and biology courses in which students study issues affecting local environment, and then produce a brochure that informs park visitors about some of the biodiversity at Poinsett State Park in Sumter County. Not only do students achieve a better understanding of their community, they also benefit by the interaction with people outside of the classroom. In literature and writing courses, representations of the natural world provide opportunities to discuss varying cultural attitudes and consider them in light of scientific fact and environmental problems. The team is also interested in water quality, water rights disputes, and evolution. Team members will present information on their current courses, and invite discussion and review of our qualitative and quantitative methods of assessment.


University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley


Jamie Douglas, Tammy Ladwig, Joy Perry, Martin Rudd, Kristin Runge*


The University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley has established a first-year program with the goal of engaging students as soon as they enter the university. In the year following participation in SSI 2008, the team plans to teach and assess a first-year course for students at varying levels of interest or experience with science. Fox in the Woods will begin with an off-campus retreat in the woodlands of Northern Wisconsin that underscore the notion that science is a dynamic, interactive and often collaborative pursuit that impacts the real lives of individuals and communities. On campus, students will be divided into three disciplinary sections which will continue to explore sustainability from the perspective of that particular discipline, coming together to exchange ideas and information throughout the semester. The course will use the SENCER ideals as a spring board to enculturate first year students as full participants in the vibrant scholarly community at UW-Fox Valley with the ultimate goal of creating citizen advocates capable of using science to resolve issues in their local, regional and national communities. Team members look forward to consulting with colleagues regarding how best to structure and assess the course, and how they might construct a first-year course for education majors next.


Woodbury University


Rao Chekuri*, M. Liptak, Phil Pack, Marty Tippens


The team from Woodbury University has developed several courses using the SENCER approach. The civic issues that have been or will be incorporated into courses include traffic, shelter, the physics of daily life, stress, online shopping, autism, and optimizing water use in areas of scarcity. A course on traffic covers such topics as the history of traffic in cities in the American West, the role of communications in alleviating traffic problems, the mathematics and the physics of traffic, and psychological issues such as aggressive driving and road rage. The course also allows students to explore the challenges facing the existing system in the next few years, including population growth, congestion, the end of oil and the economic effects of carbon emissions. SSI 2008 team members are especially interested in the application of concepts from mathematics and natural sciences to increase awareness and producing learners who can see the relationships between what they learn in classroom and public issues. At SSI 2008, team members hope to gather ideas to develop courses to increase civic responsibility and a predisposition to remain aware after the course. They are open to collaborations with colleagues from other colleges and universities who also offer courses on topics such as traffic.