Improving Programs

Part of the InTeGrate Savannah State University Program Model

Program Motivation

The Savannah State University campus borders an extensive salt marsh estuarine system along the Georgia coast with a local economy that is largely tied to tourism and the port. It houses a powerful set of degree programs that are relevant to coastal hazards, management, and environmental justice. Areas of expertise on campus include environmental science, marine science, logistics, urban planning, social work, homeland security, and emergency management. Academically, however, it is challenging for a student to get the diverse training needed from these different departments to address issues of environmental justice or coastal hazards and management due to minimal flexibility in existing degree programs and only a fledgling level of inter-college course offerings for interdisciplinary training. This project, which had two phases, endeavored to build cross-college collaboration in course design and implementation as a means to reach a broader group of students regardless of their selected discipline. This effort was to develop a culture of appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of coastal hazards and the management and environmental justice issues associated with coastal hazards. A certificate structure was chosen because it allows the student to still major in an established field (in lieu of receiving an interdisciplinary studies degree) and it does not add to the load of required credits in the way that taking on a Minor does. The significance of the training is that it provides a capstone experience, enabling the students to collaborate in an in-depth format with peers from other degree programs to address local community needs in regards to coastal hazards, management, and environmental justice. Through service-learning, they build experience in communicating with diverse colleagues, apply their field of expertise to address problems involving complex social, environmental, and economic factors; as well as receive practical and impactful opportunities. Further, by building meaningful intra- and inter-university partnerships, we were able to achieve what promises to be a positive, transformative pathway to enhance Historically Black Colleges and Universities as pathways to improve workforce diversity in the Geosciences and Geoscience Education.

Program-Level Goals and Evidence

Collectively, the two parts of this program were active for approximately 18 months. After completion of the Institutional Review Board requirements early in 2016, we were able to begin collecting data; thus, even though we learned of the sub-award in late summer 2015, much of our early time was spent laying the administrative foundation to begin to take action. This was partially because of our challenges in determining the necessary approvals for what we proposed. Nevertheless, the synergy and eagerness of the team was the goldmine for productivity. Because commitment and collegiality were critical to the success of the first IP, they were a central consideration when proposing the second IP, CHARTing II.

Of the goals originally outlined, we were able to either fully achieve success or nearly so in each area. This was done by making significant modifications to targeted courses, broadly sharing the InTeGrate resource with a diverse and multi-disciplinary set of faculty, and initiating a certificate program in Coastal Community Risks and Management, and networking and collaborating on coastal hazards, Geosciences, and Geoscience Education within Savannah State, the broader HBCU community, and other types of institutions. Thus, these projects led to significant collaborative interaction across all of the University's colleges and school of Teacher Education faculty and students, working toward addressing coastal hazards and risks with an Environmental Justice approach. Further, these projects culminated in significant collaborative research planning and submission of significant education and research proposals.

Goal 1: Bring awareness of Environmental Justice issues associated with coastal risk and hazards to facilitate a collaborative campus community seeking to evaluate and manage risk associated with inhabiting the coast

Students in modified sections of ENVS 1140, specifically through the use of the Hurricane module, were able to use the information to see the predicted hurricane threat along multiple coasts as well as discuss how they respond and what they have experienced in their lifetimes and/or heard from family members. Just through the anecdotal discussion, many realized several of the demographic-related behavioral risks that are associated with this one natural coastal hazard. The discussions set the tone for other considerations such as implications for business, education, economics, etc. for those in impacted zones. Additionally, other InTeGrate materials were used in other courses to the point that by the culminating semester of the program, 2 planned (Environmental Issues and Environmental Justice & Coastal Risk Management) and 3 unplanned courses (Global Supply Chain Management, Marine Sediments, Introduction to Geographical Information Systems) were impacted in some identifiable way as a result of the knowledge of the InTeGrate materials by the instructor. For details of the experiences of the instructors directly involved in the unplanned courses, see Faculty Reflections for Drs. Amit Arora, Carol Pride, and Deden Rukmana, respectively)

Actions put in place as part of the CHARTing project have positioned our Marine & Environmental Sciences Department at the forefront of recent developments by our University to partner with the Federal and regional Emergency Management groups to develop programming for training students in this key resiliency area. The working group to develop this new Emergency Response Training Program, though not finalized, is designed to be interdisciplinary. To fully understand the need for emergency response capabilities on the coast, one must have at least a basic understanding of the hazards and also the risks associated with choices that are related to those hazards. Oftentimes, those behaviors are strongly connected to one's demographic background. Those of us involved in the project will bring InTeGrate modules experience to the table as a means to efficiently progress the student understanding of the coastal hazards for which they are preparing. In the wake of recent storm events and developments along the coast, long-named the University by the Sea, Savannah State has the unique opportunity and direct urgency to have waves of trained students prepared to assist in the response of the campus and surrounding community to hazardous events along our coast.

Goal 2: Establish a certificate and/or minor in coastal risk, management, and environmental justice

We still see a continued path toward the establishment of a certificate and/or recognition cord program in coastal risk, management, and environmental justice. The necessary approvals have been made at the University level and as we ended this project, we began the process of seeking University System of Georgia approval for the 2 new courses to be listed as Area D (Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Technology) options on all students' grids. Because Area D is a section of the core curriculum, these courses will provide additional and targeted options that will make the courses and the certificate more accessible for a broader range of students than if it were exclusively offered within and to the students of the College of Sciences and Technology. We were able to offer the upper-level new course (COST 4140K Environmental Justice and Coastal Hazard Risk Management) during the second mini-semester of Fall 2016. In addition to this project, we have compiled ideas for on-campus and off-campus service learning projects that will be used as we move forward with other offerings of the course. Lastly, we plan to offer both courses on a regular basis once we have attained Area D status. In the preparatory process for offering the new courses, we developed an informational 1-page document for garnering interest amongst faculty so that they may be aware of the courses and their targeted perspective toward offering students a certificate option, essential for making inroads to the advisement cycle of students. Another version of the 1-pager was written to inform possible community partners about the program, its goals, and the desire to have them participate and contribute to offer specific enrichment to the students.

The 2 new courses that were required for the certificate program have both been approved at the University level and one of them has been implemented as of Fall 2016. The necessary sets of paperwork have gone through the approval process for the University and are being finalized for the University System of Georgia level for Area D approval and recognition of the certificate.

Goal 3: Develop a program of service-learning projects to train students in the areas of coastal risk, management, and environmental justice

Because of the brevity of the timeline in a semester and weekly class time hours, we formulated a plan that each cohort of students would assist in adding service learning project ideas to the coffer of options from which students would be able to select in future offerings of the course, reducing the invention and planning time toward action for each in-session group. This would allow intersession preparations for infusion of new project options and a greater sense of accomplishment for the students. For example, our initial class of COST 4140K started the work on a Campus Coastal Hazard Risk Management Plan by doing most of the historical and data searches necessary to determine the changes in land uses for the property that is today Savannah State University. This is directly relevant because our approximately 210-acre campus sits mostly on the marshes of coastal Georgia and is currently home to more than 4500 students as commuters and residents. In addition to this project, the class formed ideas for other on-campus as well as off-campus service learning projects that can be used as we move forward with other offerings of the course. Another activity that we completed this semester was service in our nearby community garden, which gave us the opportunity to discuss the problem with food deserts in dealing with coastal hazards. A final example was the wholly student-initiated and executed canal clean-up, which was also used to promote a better understanding of storm water management issues on the coast.

Finally, we ended the first phase of the CHARTing project as we were synthesizing a description of coastal hazard-related service learning projects that will allow us to archive and maintain a basic journal of the progression of activities as we move forward. Ultimately, we anticipate that this will be a photo-inclusive journal, including the names of participants in the respective activities, which will ease the process of aggregating acknowledgements at project completion.

Goal 4: Impact courses by facilitating the incorporation of Geoscience into a wide range of disciplines.

The CHARTing projects led to courses in Africana Studies, Global Logistics & International Business, Environmental Science, Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Marine Science, and Political Science being infused with Geoscience content related to coastal hazards. The purpose was to help students see the science of the coastal hazards, how risk and risk management relate to the hazards, and how the coastal hazards impact the students' areas of interest. Each of the two phases achieved course impact in different ways.

Phase one involved participating faculty in selecting InTeGrate material for use, individual training of participating faculty to use materials, and the faculty using the materials themselves in their own course. For the new course that was offered, PI Ebanks worked with the multi-disciplinary team to develop they syllabus and customize the instructional content to make the material understandable and accessible to the broadest possible group of students. Teaching faculty were dependent upon webinars (live and recorded) and knowledge of the PI and co-PIs to train them in the InTeGrate materials to impact courses in Global Logistics & International Business, Environmental Science, Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Marine Science, and Political Science

In phase two, faculty participants were either trained by others in the program (Dr. Davis), able to attend the Earth Educators' Rendezvous and received additional training from PI Ebanks (Dr. Dwight Ebanks), or were already more experienced with the InTeGrate materials because of training in phase one (PI Ebanks). Thus, there was a broad range of experience and levels of comfort within the group. Each faculty participant was able to work with the graduate student who functioned as the project manager, particularly for managing the data, so that faculty members could focus on their course responsibilities.

Goal 5: Present/Publish findings of CHARTing

The group has discussed elements of the project at the Earth Educators' Rendezvous 2017, American Geophysical Union 2017 Annual Meeting, and summarized impacts of this project in a book chapter that is being published through the Association for Environmental Studies and Science on the involvement of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) with InTeGrate. This chapter, "HBCUs Broadening Participation in Geosciences (a journey through InTeGrate)," summarizes the involvement of the HBCU and the anticipated path forward for the HBCU Geosciences Working Group.

Goal 6:Develop at least one new significant partnership with whom a draft proposal is prepared to promote continuing and broader impacts of CHARTing

The CHARTing project has allowed Savannah State University and PI Ebanks to interact with Carleton College, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have expressed shared interest in Geoscience through the HBCU Geosciences Working Group, and other HBCU and non-HBCU entities. The central purpose has been to increase involvement of African Americans in the Geosciences. This common interest has led to the development and submission of a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (I-USE) Geopaths-IMPACT RFP. The project involves a partnership between 6 HBCUs, other members of the HBCU Geosciences Working Group, and the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton to systematically address the under-representation of African Americans in the Geosciences and in Geoscience Education. The project, "GP-IMPACT: Expanding HBCU Pathways to Geoscience Education," is built upon the key issue that despite meaningful STEM diversity and inclusion efforts, African Americans remain disproportionately underrepresented in the geosciences. Though national standards introduce the field as early as the 6th grade, many teachers lack the proficiency to develop content or to confidently deliver instruction and career guidance in the Earth Sciences. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are untapped resources and opportunities to meet these needs. The proposed project will develop and test an Evaluation and Enhancement Tool that can be used by HBCUs and other institutions that reach or aspire to attract and support African Americans in the Geosciences, including Geoscience Education. Because geoscience diversity and inclusion efforts over the past half century have resulted in a less than notable increase, the HBCU Pathways Team will use a range of critical components to supporting the success of African Americans in the Geosciences for the development of the Evaluation component of the Instrument. These include strength of institutional/ programmatic support and capacity for geoscience curricula and activities, while targeting pre-service and in-service teachers. Thus, HBCU Pathways will deliver a strategic multidimensional solution (1) to impact middle school teacher preparation curricula and professional development activities toward the goal of (2) improving minority access to the geosciences. This multidimensional and scalable solution will be developed and tested at 3 institutions in the first 12 months and 2 additional institutions in the second 12 months. At each stage, Enhancement Resources will be vetted and mapped to recommend site-specific prescriptive resources to fortify efforts by institutions to offer hands-on training, develop geoscience content, and deliver geosciences into HBCU pre-service teacher preparation curricula and programs.

Core interdisciplinary teams and additional partners and advisors, will utilize a theory-driven process of intervention design and evaluation to develop an effective, sustainable, and scalable institutional and programmatic-level intervention. The approach will be used to support the development of interventions by bringing together key stakeholders, particularly Teacher Educators, Regional School-System Representatives, and Geoscientists from the start to scrutinize and address proposed approaches to achieving plausible, feasible, and testable assessment methods and enhancement activities. This will also be aligned with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation standards. Additionally, this focused effort to systematically develop and complete testing of a scalable, interactive, stakeholder-driven deep dive process will assist the HBCU and broader Education community in advancing geoscience education and workforce development by accessing the untapped HBCU community resources and opportunities.

Unexpected Outcomes

Outcome 1:

Being in a position to contribute and offer advice (Goal 2) for the new inter-college initiative for a student emergency response training certification program, was an unexpected outcome. While we did expect broader impacts, the swiftness was surprising for the PI. Our team is able to inform the group involved in the new effort to design the certification program on the challenges in protocol and potential delays, as well as offer some (now) existing courses on the books that can be used to lay a foundation for the certifications, field trainings, and other hands-on elements of the new project.

Our team was invited to the initial planning meetings for the project to offer students an emergency response training certification program and were able to strongly weigh-in during these initial steps.

Outcome 2:

In addition to being one of the few Historically Black Universities with a strong geoscience-related program (Marine Sciences and Environmental Science), we have, in recent years, had the return of Education degree programs to the University. Our School of Teacher Education (SoTE) has agreed to collaborate with PI Ebanks to build a partnership that also includes the Oglethorpe Charter School (in the Savannah Chatham County Public School System) administration and science teachers to tackle a challenge that is relatively widespread in the region (and possibly much more broadly). In-service teachers for the middle grades are often faced with having formal training in life science but being required to teach the geosciences, particularly for the 6th grade standards. This offers a unique opportunity for the use of InTeGrate materials in professional development for the in-service teachers as well as broadening the scope for the pre-service teachers that are in the pipeline. The effort will be magnified through partnership with Florida A & M University and their Teacher Education program to formulate a network of several HBCUs in the Southeast region that have the same or similar missions in mind for their Institutions.

These projects allowed PI Ebanks to develop a strong working relationship with members of the HBCU Geoscience working group toward the development of proposals to support a series of workshops, involvement with the 2017 Earth Educators' Rendezvous, and course modifications to support and involve in-service teachers in the middle grades, their participation, and more in-depth infusion of the geosciences into the training of pre-service teachers.

Long-term Impact and Next Steps

The first and foremost next step is recognition for the new courses as Area D options. As of the end of CHARTing II, we are still working on this component. This will be key in the greater inclusion of students because in the process of developing the program and interacting with faculty from our various Colleges, we came to the understanding that there are some majors that have open electives and others that do not. Those that do not, really must infuse these courses into their experience within the Area D section of their grid. This will fully transform the potential for this project to reach the broader campus community.

With the second phase, we continued the work started in CHARTing I and expanded the reach to additional science and traditionally non-science courses as well as formulated, clarified, strengthened, and worked in partnerships that have led to extramural grant proposal submissions, drafting of a book chapter, and project development for a culturing facility and a center for coastal resilience. With partners, PI Ebanks and co-PI Pride will continue to work on these next steps with new partners over the remainder of 2018-19 funding and research cycles.