Initial Publication Date: October 16, 2016

Making Change Happen

Part of the InTeGrate Gustavus Adolphus College Program Model

Advice for Future Implementations »Below, we describe how the program was implemented and key aspects that contributed to the program's success.

High-Level Project Timeline

Prior to initiation of project

  • Administered a modified version of the Yale Climate Communication survey to the entire Gustavus faculty, in collaboration with the Gustavus Faculty Senate.
  • Members of the geology department assessed interest in the topic by hosting a faculty development workshop on the topic of climate teaching.

Year 1, Summer

  • First of three teaching circles held - 5 participants from 5 departments (see description in right column, Stage I).

Year 1, Fall

  • Hosts and developers developed modules, tested lessons with an internal audience (other developers and experienced geoscience students) and delivered modules in Fall courses (see description in right column, Stages II and III).

Year 1, Winter

  • Second of three teaching circles held - 5 participants from 4 departments.
Year 1, Spring
  • Hosts and developers developed, tested, and delivered modules in Spring courses.
Year 2, Fall
  • Host and developer pairs met to decide how much participation from developer is appropriate for upcoming course offering.
  • Host or developer delivered modules.

Year 2, Spring

  • Host and developer pairs met to decide how much participation from developer is appropriate for upcoming course offering.
  • Host or developer delivered modules.

Year 2, Summer

  • Third of three teaching circles held -4 participants from 4 departments.

Sustaining Change

By pairing non-specialist 'host' and specialist 'developer' faculty members, we sought to create mini-modules that were grounded in the themes of a pre-existing course, and thus could become truly integrated into those courses. This model provides the greatest opportunities for survival of the content beyond the end of this project. We learned that for a host faculty member to teach the module again, the mini-module must:

  • Have only as much science content as the host is comfortable presenting
  • Align with the course's (and host's) existing pedagogical style
  • Contribute toward one of the pre-existing goals of the course
  • Flow intentionally from and into other themes/topics of the course

The process created by this project also provides a path by which additional modules can be developed when other faculty members become interested or arrive on campus. We are optimistic that this model for interdisciplinary teaching, which requires deep and thoughtful communication during development stages, but shifts content responsibility to the host faculty member over time, is more sustainable at our institution type than other interdisciplinary teaching models, such as co-teaching.

Supporting Faculty Change

Jump to: Stage II | Stage III

STAGE 1, TEACHING CIRCLE – Identifying and removing barriers to teaching climate change

To initiate each curriculum development loop, we hosted a teaching circle – a collaborative faculty development workshop – about teaching climate change in disparate disciplines. Each circle was comprised of 4-5 prospective "host" faculty who wanted to incorporate climate change into the courses, and 3-6 "developer" faculty with climate science expertise of varying sorts. The circles evolved through time, but shared four main components:

I. Whole group together: The circle organizers explained the purpose of the project and the format for the teaching circle. Then, they presented a climate science primer or demonstrated a climate science module previously developed for a course.

II. Individual working time: Host faculty brainstormed and articulated (on paper) ideas for how they wanted to incorporate climate change into their existing courses. Some began writing learning goals and outcomes for their proposed module. Developer faculty were available to answer questions or help with brainstorming.

III. Circle organizers 'looked over the shoulders' of host and developer faculty members to see how ideas were evolving. Based on the needs of the hosts and the expertise of the available developers, circle organizers assigned working pairs.

IV. Pairs of host and developer faculty members: Pairs began working together to further articulate ideas and share details of pedagogic approaches, course themes, goals, etc. Some pairs began writing down a lesson plan, others did not get that far during the circle.

STAGE 2, DEVELOPMENT – Creating modules that work

Faculty with climate science expertise (see list of key personnel) used the output from teaching circles to develop short modules that introduce novice, non-geoscience students to climate science. The modules ranged from 50 minutes to 2 hours (two class periods), and were embedded within courses in nine different departments.

I. The host and developer faculty pairs met shortly after the teaching circle to share ideas and clarify expectations that may vary across disciplines. We found that this can be a time-intensive step, because faculty from disparate disciplines may need time to fully understand the learning goals, outcomes and pedagogy in each other's courses. For example, humanities faculty are less likely to use PowerPoint than are natural science faculty. So, a science faculty member may need to 'stretch' into a new pedagogical framework in order to create a truly integrated and self-sustaining module for the non-science faculty.

II. The developer drafted a module. Developers were occasionally able to draw on lectures or activities they use in their own classes, but those needed to be heavily adapted. More often, they used their familiarity with the literature and helpful sites like SERC to design custom modules.

III. The developer presented a 'test run' of the module in front of a group that contained the host faculty member, at least one circle organizer, two additional faculty members from the project leadership team, and in some cases an undergraduate geoscience student. Before the module delivery, the developer and the host faculty were asked to independently write their goals for the module on the chalkboard. This helped the developer check in with whether they were meeting the host's needs and expectations. During the delivery, the specialist and nonspecialist professionals in the group played the role of novice students to test the timing, pedagogy and logistics of each module. After the test run, the whole group then provided feedback and commentary to the developer, with particular emphasis on whether the module supported the particular non-geoscience content for the course. In some cases, the developer and host faculty again met or talked to refine the module before delivery to the class. We found this test-run to be absolutely critical to delivering a successful module.

STAGE 3, IMPLEMENTATION – Into the classroom

I. Initial classroom implementation: Modules were delivered by the developer. One project leader attended the class to observe the implementation in real-time. Afterward, a project leader interviewed each host faculty member to determine the success of the project, answer questions and address concerns.

II. Subsequent implementations: Ideally, the host delivered the module during the next offering of that course (typically the following semester or one year later). In practice, we found that this expectation was unrealistic. In many cases, the host asked that the developer return, either to provide irreplaceable personal perspective or to support the host one more time. In other cases, the course was not offered again immediately, either because of personnel changes or scheduling needs. If personnel changes occur, we would expect to have to re-deliver the module at least once for the new instructor.