Mapping The Environment With Sensory Perception: An Interdisciplinary Module For Examining Environmental Contamination And Impact

Monday 2:15pm Weeks Geo: 140
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Michael Phillips, Illinois Valley Community College
Lisa Phillips, Illinois State University
Kate Darby, Western Washington University
Fully understanding and characterizing environmental problems requires an interdisciplinary approach that draws from a variety of fields. The initial affect of contamination is most often noted when people detect alterations of their lived spaces through sensory experiences – by the way their environment smells, sounds or looks. This initial impact prompts the collection and analyses of water, soil, and air samples as well as information on the individuals who live in impacted environment.

We have developed a module wherein students develop an understanding of the systemic impact pollutants have on the environment and how scientists and other concerned parties investigate that impact and use the results to communicate and develop containment and remediation strategies. Sensory data (specifically smells and sounds) are collected by students and used to trace the movement of contaminants through the environmental system.

During this module, students analyze and characterize a variety of quantitative and qualitative data by planning and completing field investigations, engaging with case studies, and creating a map of an environmental setting using their sensory perceptions. By mapping sensory impacts, students develop and express an understanding of the connections between chemicals that can be detected in the environment, the movement of those substances through the environment under variable environmental conditions, and the impact those substances may have on the lived experience of residents.

The module is designed to foster synthesis between sensory perception (what students smell, taste, hear, see, or feel) and geoscientific data (such as water samples and flow maps) to facilitate deeper analysis of environmental issues by engaging with data as characterized by multiple disciplines.

Presentation Media

Mapping the Environment with Sensory Perception (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 26.4MB Jul13 16)