Workshop Overview

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This workshop has already taken place.

Format and goals

The goals of the workshop are to:

  • Develop a more complete understanding of what it takes to engage students in geoscience courses in an urban environment and outline a range of strategies for both courses and curricula.
  • Explore effective and innovative ways of using urban resources for teaching geoscience.
  • Collect and disseminate examples of effective and innovative strategies related to teaching geoscience in an urban setting and teaching about urban geoscience issues in non-urban settings.
  • Consider ways to use research results on urban geoscience issues in undergraduate assignments and activities.
  • Create a network of leaders who can increase understanding in the geoscience community about how we can do a better job of teaching urban students and urban issues.
  • Explore some of the unique resources that New York City has to offer for teaching geoscience (e.g., the analytical lab of the Metropolitan Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment, the industrial Red Hook Harbor area, urban parks and architecture)

Workshop activities will include large and small group discussions, demonstrations, and planning/writing sessions. Instructional materials and other information will be organized and compiled as collections of digital resources for use in the Earth Sciences throughout the world.

This workshop is part of the Cutting Edge emerging themes workshops, which are designed to move critical ideas and concepts into the mainstream of geoscience education. For further information on emerging theme workshops, potential follow-on activities, and action plans investigate our general description of these workshops or examples of workshops from prior years on Student Motivations and Attitudes, Geology and Human Health, and Teaching Public Policy in the Earth Sciences.


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The first workshop event will take place at 6 pm on Saturday, March 8, and the last before dinner on Monday, March 10. Participants must attend all sessions. An optional field trip will take place earlier in the day on Saturday, March 8.

Eligibility and application instructions

We are seeking workshop participants who have done one or more of the following:

  • developed successful strategies for effectively engaging a diverse population of urban students in geoscience
  • developed interesting and innovative ways of using the unique resources of an urban environment for teaching geoscience (e.g., buildings, centers and museums, cultural resources, parks, forensics resources)
  • developed effective ways of integrating geoscience issues relevant to urban settings (e.g., coastal hazards, urban environmental quality issues, global warming and cities) into undergraduate courses in non-urban settings
  • developed courses or assignments and activities that explore the intersections between geoscience and cultural history of subpopulations common in large urban areas.
  • conducted research on urban geoscience issues.

Applicants for this workshop must hold a faculty position at a two- or four-year college or university and have a clear potential to contribute to the workshop (see above). We welcome applications from all academic ranks. The workshop is limited to 30 participants, and the final list of participants will be established with the goal of assembling a group representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties.


Participants are expected to:

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  • Contribute an activity or assignment to the online collection that is aligned with the goals of the workshop and/or contribute to other website resource collections before and after the workshop
  • Prepare either an oral presentation or a poster for the workshop, depending on the needs of the program.
  • Prepare in advance for workshop discussions via readings, writings, discussion, or other activities developed by workshop leaders
  • Participate fully in the entire workshop
  • Develop/help develop a new assignment or activity based on ideas that were presented or generated at the workshop.


Workshop costs. Our National Science Foundation grant provides funding for most meals and lodging, plus the operational costs of the workshop. Participants will pay for breakfasts and for lodging if they choose to arrive before March 8 or stay over until March 11.

To be supported by funds from our NSF grant, a participant must be either a US citizen, a permanent resident, or in the employ of a US institution. If you don't meet these requirements and are interested in participating in this workshop at your own expense, please contact the workshop conveners.

Travel. All participants or their home institutions must provide transportation to and from the workshop. The workshop will be held in the New York City area. Participants must make their own way to Brooklyn in time for the first workshop event at 6 pm on Saturday, March 8. The workshop will be over before dinner on Monday, March 10, and participants may return home on Monday evening, March 10. Those who wish to go on the optional pre-workshop field trip earlier in the day on March 8 must arrive in Brooklyn no later than 9 am on Saturday, March 8. JFK Airport is a 30 minute taxi ride from the workshop venue in Brooklyn.

We will be able to offer small travel stipends to participants from institutions unable to cover travel costs. The deadline for applying for a stipend for this workshop is February 10, 2008.


Workshop sessions will take place at the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment and the American Museum of Natural History. Our workshop grant provides funding for most meals plus shared rooms in a local hotel on March 8 and 9. We will offer accepted applicants the opportunity to choose a single room at a single supplement fee.

Further Information

Contact Barbara Tewksbury (