Making Change Happen
Part of the InTeGrate Mercer University Implementation Program
High-Level Project Timeline
Year 1, Fall 2014
- Offered workshop to science faculty to introduce InTeGrate project
- Recruited faculty to use revised syllabus for introductory scientific reasoning course (SCIE100) to include Climate of Change units 5 and 6 in the following semester
- One team member used InTeGrate materials in a course (PHYS106 Earth Systems Science) in order to become familiar with organization of InTeGrate
Year 1, Spring 2015
- Team faculty and recruited faculty included InTeGrate materials and ideas in one (EDUC421) education, one science course (SCIE100), and a general education capstone course (LBST303)
- Faculy teaching courses with InTeGrate collected assessment data (pre/post-student attitudinal survey, pre/post-GLE) and team requested reflections from those faculty
- At end of Spring, team members reviewed faculty experiences
Year 1, Summer 2015
- Team leaders evaluated student assessment data and faculty experiences
- Team members (faculty in science education, biology and geology) took field trip to Providence Canyon, GA, collected images to use in digital field trip, reflected on value of field experience, and developed draft digitial field trip
Year 2, Fall 2015
- Team leaders used whole-college faculty meetings to introduce InTeGrate and recruit new faculty
- Run informational webinar for interested faculty
- Another education faculty member included Environmental Justice and Freshwater Access, Unit 4 Water and Women in social science education methods course (EDUC428)
- Faculty involved from earlier in the project continued to offer InTeGrate units and modules in general education science courses, and two additional earth and environmental science courses (ENVS210, PHYS225)
- Draft digital field trip to Providence Canyon, GA used in environmental science (ENVS210) as the site for analysis in the summative assessment of A Growing Concern
- Team began collaborating with Tift College of Education STEM/STEAM Committee to discuss how they might include/support sustainability and reach out to in-service teachers
Year 2, Spring 2016
- Continue to include InTeGrate materials in education, general education science, and general education capstone courses
- University Undergraduate Council approves new general education course, SCIE200 Topics in Science to be offered by Department of Mathematics, Science, and Informatics; this course will allow the Department to offer a wider variety of
- STEM/STEAM Committee, in connection with Georgia STEM Day, organizes professional development for in-service teachers; included a session that introduced the InTeGrate site and materials and practiced some of the activities in A Growing Concern
Year 2, Summer 2016
- Team members took part in field trip to Arabia Mountain and developed digital field trip; also collected images from Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lake Lanier, and Ocmulgee National Monument (National Park Service), all in Georgia, to later develop into digital field trips
- Recruited another education faculty member who incorporated Environmental Justice and Freshwater Access, Unit 4 Water and Women into a graduate education course, Social Studies in a Multicultural World (EDUC681)
Year 3, Fall 2016
- Collaboration with history/writing faculty member leads to special topics writing course Agriculture and Sustainability in Coastal Georgia: Writing About the History of African American Farms and Farmers (WRIT390); student will develop video interview with farmer to include in a digital field trip, linked to our use of A Growing Concern
- As Mercer University begins planning its next 10 year strategic plan, we are working to find ways to include sustainability in curricular and co-curricular activities and in other parts of the University by submitting ideas and requesting participation on strategic planning committees
Key Aspects of the Program
Training in the curriculum, either content and/or how to use the InTeGrate materials, is very important to helping others (faculty, administration) feel comfortable in including sustainability in their course/work. Many think it is all about natural science and do not immediately connect sustainability to humanitities, leadership, and other disciplines.
Collaboration is awesome. It is a great faculty development tool. Being kind, supportive, and persistent with prospective faculty members seems to be the key for getting them active and involved with the program.
Keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunities with which to link our project helped us expand the reach of our project. Although we identified many possible opportunities, only a few of them worked out during our project timeline.
Sustaining ChangeTo date, four existing courses in the department were revised to include InTeGrate modules and units, and one new topics course was added to the curriculum to allow faculty to offer interdisciplinary courses in sustainability. In its strategic plan, the Mathematics, Science, and Informatics department plans to: (1) explore the possibility of offering a new degree program in sustainability; and (2) review the science curriculum, in collaboration with the education college, with a goal to include integrated science courses that address issues of interest to K-8 teachers, including sustainability and systems thinking.
Instigated by common interest in sustainability and this InTeGrate project, science, mathematics, and education faculty have established an annual STEAM Day professional development workshop for in-service and pre-service teachers. Mercer University's STEAM Collective Research Collaborative, led by the education college, has responsibility for organizing and supporting the event. Future STEAM Days will additionally include workshop activities for other students who want to learn about steps they can take to create a more sustainable environment through actions in their personal and professional lives.
Virtual field trips are being used regularly in two courses and new course sections have already been scheduled in order to develop and include additional virtual trips. Faculty expertise in developing the field trips exists in the two colleges and, now, students have opportunities to be involved in developing field trips through a writing course.
Faculty in science, technology, mathematics, and education are collaborating on a proposal for a STEM center that will include outreach activities and physical structures, such as teaching gardens, that we will use to increase motivation in University and community stakeholders to create a more environmentally sustainable society.