Faculty Reflections and Stories:

Part of the InTeGrate Gustavus Adolphus College Program Model

Reflections from the Developers

Value of Working Collaboratively

  • It is good for students to see some back-and forth between disciplines. They see that we do approach questions from distinct perspectives and still respect one another.
  • It can be energizing to work with colleagues outside your discipline, but it's hard work!
  • Ideas about our goals evolve as we go along.
  • Communication is key - each party needs to bring their ideas to the table.

The group experience of developing materials for non-science courses

  • The dry-run/rehearsal was crucially important in making sure we hit the students' levels right and that we were aligned with the host's pedagogy and content expectations.
  • We need to be very explicit about why we're introducing science into a non-science course and why it matters.
  • Extends the reach of climate science on a campus with relatively few courses that address climate change from a scientific perspective.

Reflections from the Hosts

Jan Wotton, Psychological Science & Neuroscience

Course: Introduction to Neuroscience
Module: Climate Change and Migratory Behavior: What Does Climate Change Mean for the Monarch?

Thoughts on the project: I hoped that this project would show students how science and policy matter. Voting citizens need to be knowledgeable about science, beyond just the facts. The module was a good learning experience for the students, and was scientific.

Ursula Lindqvist, Scandinavian Studies

Course : Nordic Colonialisms
Module: Climate Change and the Arctic

Thoughts on the project: I hoped this project would answer the kinds of questions I often get in class and feel unable to answer. I also wanted students to be able to make links between political, social, and geographic kinds of colonialism and relate those to the environment. About the students: The students who were most challenging in terms of integrating climate science with the rest of the course material were those who came in with the strongest interest in climate science. They were so invested in their own political perspective that they weren't open to other political dimensions of climate science.

Bonnie Reimann, Health Exercise Science

Course : Personal Fitness
Module: Exercise in a Warming World

Thoughts on the project: The goal was to help students explore the environmental dimension of wellness. Students need to know that climate change has consequences for sport (as an industry) and for health (at the personal level). This was somewhat challenging to embed in this particular course and might not serve well as a stand-alone, online module, which was the original goal for this particular course. The mini-module did address both the basic science of climate change and provide good information for health-related concerns.

Deborah Goodwin, Religion

Course: Religion & Ecology
Module: Climate Change and Social Justice: Case Studies from Other Countries

Thoughts on the project: Information coupled to values is what makes action happen; not just information alone. This perspective is the one espoused by Kathleen Dean Moore's talk at the 2012 Nobel Conference - it inspired this project, in part. This module gave them a real-world context and concrete examples, and students could, in groups of 3-4, clearly explain climate change. At least one student in each group felt confident and was competent in the science dimensions.

Jon Grinnell, Biology

Course: Vertebrate Biology
Module: Scientific Certainty and Climate Departures

Thoughts on the project: This project was used as a point of introduction for a mini-project where students chose a species and described threats. In order to do this, students needed to understand how certain we are about climate change and what kinds of change are expected. This group of students was pretty sophisticated and the scientific certainty material might have been too elementary. Students were able to make use of the climate departure approach in their mini-projects.

Annika Ericksen, Sociology & Anthropology

Course: Nomadic Pastoralists of Asia and Africa
Module: Monsoons, Climate Change, and the People of the Sahel

Thoughts on the project: The most important scientific piece of this project was the explanation of how the monsoon forms and how this might change with shifts in regional weather patterns. This knowledge is key to understanding how regional climate underlies the social structure of the region. Students really saw the relevance of climate change to pastoralism. The practice run was key to the success of this module. In that practice run, we talked about delivery and Jim [the developer] added personal stories and images, which were key to holding students' attention and making the module fit well with the course.

Mary Gaebler, Religion

Course: Faith, Religion, and Culture
Module: Scientific Debate and the Nature of Certainty

Thoughts on the project: For this project, the developer set up an understanding about why scientists are certain about climate change and who is an "expert" about climate change. It was important for this course to establish empirical truth and to learn how scientists communicate risk or articulate certainty and uncertainty. This sets the stage to launch a course unit that laid out climate change as an issue of social justice.