Earth Systems Thinking: An InTeGrate Module That Can Be Used In Any Course

Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Teaching about Systems


Lisa Gilbert, Williams College
Karl Kreutz, University of Maine
Deborah Gross, Carleton College
One of the themes of the InTeGrate program's pedagogical approach is to foster systems thinking. The concept of systems thinking is addressed in individual InTeGrate modules designed to address specific geoscience topics (e.g., climate change, agricultural sustainability, hazards) for introductory geoscience and environmental science courses. However, the earth system is a complex topic that cannot be fully explored in the context of content-specific lessons. Consequently, we are creating the Earth Systems Thinking module to provide a foundation for the incorporation of systems thinking throughout all of the InTeGrate materials. This module is designed to be used in conjunction with other InTeGrate modules or could be used as a stand-alone module for instructors searching for a way to add a discussion of the earth system to their classes. Students prepare to address complex systems issues for a sustainable future by 1) identifying the parts of a system and explaining how the parts interact, 2) developing skills to model complex systems using data and examples relevant to the course, and 3) applying a systems approach to evaluate a societal challenge. This InTeGrate module helps fill a key need to educate students about the importance of the systems approach, uses examples that involve data and the construction and manipulation of systems models, and helps students approach complex, interdisciplinary problems. In this presentation, we will describe the themes that are present throughout the module and share the materials we present to help students gain experience and skills creating, working with, and analyzing complex systems.