Sustainable Rivers: Using Placed-Based Learning to Integrate Science Across the Liberal Arts Curriculum

Wednesday 3:15pm Weeks Geo: 140
Oral Presentation


Mark Sweeney, University of South Dakota
As part of the InTeGrate implementation program, the University of South Dakota (USD) began incorporating science and sustainability issues related to the Missouri River into courses across the liberal arts curriculum. Greater than 65% of incoming freshman at USD are from South Dakota, and the last time they were exposed to Earth Science content was in the 8th grade. Our implementation program seeks to increase science literacy among undergraduate students by using placed-based learning and taking advantage of connections students have to the Missouri River, be it through a variety of recreational or cultural experiences, or having been impacted by the 2011 flood. Our network of faculty with various interests in the river utilized InTeGrate course modules and other river-related materials in English, Native studies, South Dakota history, honors speech, world geography, anthropology, business statistics, sustainability and earth science courses, among others. Initial responses from faculty are positive in that students appreciate the multidisciplinary connections being made in these various classes. Students in these courses completed a standard set of attitude surveys and pre- and post-content assessments utilizing Geoscience literacy questions and our own sustainability-related questions. We will present preliminary results of these assessment materials which will help to gage success of our implementation program. Ultimately, we hope that continuing this program will enrich and add meaning to liberal arts education in the university setting and serve as a model for place-based learning at other institutions where rivers play an important role in people's lives.