Guiding Principles

The urban and environmental geophysics modules developed by the IGUaNA project are designed with the goal of attracting and engaging students from underrepresented groups to try geophysics, and potentially to pursue a geophysics career. These modules aim to engage students in hands-on/minds-on learning of geophysics content and skills that can be directly related to issues of societal relevance that are important to the students. Our guiding principles, which all published modules must reflect, are:

  1. The module addresses one or more geoscience-related challenges facing society. These could include environmental, engineering, and / or forensic challenges, such as (but not limited to) urban infrastructure, water resources management, waste management, meeting society's energy needs, identifying buried structures, and mitigating natural hazards.
  2. The module develops student ability to address interdisciplinary problems. Interdisciplinary problems require diverse perspectives that promote understanding of the interactions between Earth science and economic, societal and policy issues.  Such materials integrate robust geoscience with trans-disciplinary knowledge from other disciplines such as geography, social sciences and humanities.
  3. The module improves student understanding of the nature and methods of geophysics and develops students' quantitative problem solving skills. Geophysics is a discipline based on using physics to understand our planet. The methods of geophysics include collecting data about the Earth's subsurface and using those data to test hypotheses and make predictions. Quantitative skills central to the use of geophysical techniques are employed through the use of real geophysical data.
  4. The module makes use of authentic and credible geophysical data to learn central concepts in the context of geoscience methods of inquiry. Curricular materials use appropriate data available for the topics under discussion.  Data sets and / or references to data sources are provided as needed.  
  5. Learning strategies and activities support data analysis and interpretation. Curricular materials promote mastery of geophysical techniques that are central to solving authentic geoscience problems and assist students in recognizing when those techniques are likely to be applicable to a problem. Geophysical methods are applicable to a wide range of environmental challenges facing society today. Analyzing and interpreting geophysical data is essential to applying these methods, and also strengthens students' quantitative and critical thinking skills.