Teaching Teamwork: Project-based Learning in an Interdisciplinary Course Delivered by an Interdisciplinary Teaching Team

Monday 4:30pm-6:00pm Quad
Poster Session Part of Monday Poster Session


Dana Thomas, The University of Texas at Austin
Hailun Ni, The University of Texas at Austin
Susan Hovorka, The University of Texas at Austin
Sahar Bakhshian, The University of Texas at Austin
Alex Bump, The University of Texas at Austin
Shuvajit Bhattacharya, The University of Texas at Austin
Geoscience degree earners are entering workplaces in which they are expected to be productive members of multidisciplinary teams (Mosher and Keane, 2021), yet undergraduate and graduate students report having little exposure to working in interdisciplinary teams during their education (Keane et al., 2022). At the same time, students – including those from marginalized backgrounds – are motivated to pursue degrees that will lead to jobs that will better the environment and society (Carter et al., 2021).
Our team-taught course on geologic CO2 storage focuses on a climate mitigation strategy and challenges students to approach a CO2 sequestration project in the same manner as an interdisciplinary research team. Most of the instructors are researchers in the Gulf Coast Carbon Center at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the Jackson School of Geosciences and regularly, a group that includes geologists, geophysicists, engineers and economists.
Students in the course are undergraduate and graduate students from multiple programs, including geology, environmental science, petroleum engineering and an interdisciplinary energy and resources degree. The instructors form groups that are diverse in backgrounds and specialties and students work together to characterize and develop a proposal for a CO2 storage project using real data, mimicking the process that practitioners follow to gain a permit from the EPA. Groups are encouraged to leverage the multidisciplinary nature of the teams and utilize individual's skillsets.
This presentation will describe what is needed for this model and suggest ways elements could be transferable to other programs. Local professionals could be partners in delivering a course when university resources are scarce. As geoscience departments strive to maintain enrollment, courses with an engineering component could be helpful for attracting students from other majors. We also welcome discussion on potential areas of research, such as how the course affects students' perception of team-based work in the geosciences.