High Water Rising: Science, Literature, and the Environment
Oral Session Part of Monday B: Teacher Preparation, Professional Development and Policy Issues & Developing Geocompetencies
Flagler College is located on the Atlantic coast of the Florida peninsula, in the heart of historic St. Augustine, "America's Oldest City." Campus is just a five-minute walk from the Matanzas River inlet, where one can explore some of the country's longest standing architecture and observe exciting wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins and endangered green sea turtles. Unfortunately, the area faces increasing pressure from sea-level rise associated with climate change. We experienced significant flooding and damage to local homes during successive hurricanes in 2016 and 2017 (Matthew and Irma, respectively). Such modern challenges often require interdisciplinary solutions. A hallmark of Flagler College's First Year Experience is the Learning Community (LC), which pairs courses from different disciplines to enhance learning and stretch students beyond their majors. Second-semester freshmen dual-enroll in two courses that comprise their chosen LC. This helps students form a cohort of cooperation to aid individual progress throughout their degree programs. In this LC, students investigate the dynamic relationship between humanity and the natural world from several disciplinary perspectives, with special attention to the rising tide of environmental crisis. Along the way, students are introduced to a variety of environmental topics (e.g., ecosystems and biodiversity, human population growth, land use, water quality and management, nutrient cycles, energy consumption and alternatives, sustainability, climate change, etc.). They also conduct their own field research. Participants read and discuss selections from famous environmental writers (e.g., Thoreau, Muir, Austen, Carson, Abbey, Snyder, Berry, Dillard, Williams, et al.), and hone their academic writing skills. We have conducted this LC for three consecutive years, pairing Environmental Science with Environmental Literature. In this session we will share pedagogical strategies, setbacks and successes, and highlight student feedback and progress post-course completion.