Initial Publication Date: December 1, 2016

Making Change Happen

Part of the InTeGrate University of South Dakota Program Model

Advice for Future Implementations »

Faculty Reflections and Stories »

High-Level Project Timeline

Year 1, Summer 2015

  • Faculty members participated in full day workshop at Ponca State Park in May.
  • Faculty completed report including revised syllabi of proposed course changes in August.

Year 1, Fall 2015 and Spring 2016

  • Faculty implemented program into respective classes.
  • Faculty participated in periodic brown bag lunch meetings, as available, to discuss project progress.

Year 2, Summer 2016

  • Faculty members participated in a half-day workshop at USD to reflect on the project in May.
  • Faculty members continuing the project plan for upcoming academic year in August.

Key Aspects of the Program

When we began to plan for the Sustainable Rivers program model, we sought out faculty who we knew had interest in the Missouri River. This resulted in a group of interested and motivated faculty willing to integrate science of the river into their non-science courses. Based on their positive feedback, we think they will continue this approach in the future. Our link with the Liberal Arts Task Force and support from the College of Arts and Sciences will hopefully allow us to continue to offer programming to additional faculty at USD. Our faculty received a stipend for their participation in the program that compensated them for time spent over the summer in making revisions to their courses to accommodate InTeGrate materials. These stipends served as an additional incentive to participate. These stipends may or may not be available to our future faculty recruits, depending on funding opportunities.

To succeed, having two team leaders that could split the tasks of managing twelve faculty was very helpful. For example, one team leader was in charge of interfacing with the Institutional Review Board (IRB) so that student data could be collected. Other duties included preparing appropriate assessment materials, sending periodic reminders to faculty to deliver pre- and post-assessments, to schedule and run informal meetings or informational workshops, and to collect, tally and analyze the assessment data. Our program had a dedicated work study student (who also completed IRB training to handle data) that helped tally the large amount of assessment data.

Inspiring the faculty to want to incorporate the science of the river into their courses is key. We managed to do this by holding a day-long workshop and field trip at nearby Ponca State Park along the Missouri River. In addition to delivering information about the InTeGrate program, InTeGrate modules, and the goals of our program, we had a guest speaker give a presentation on the scientific, historical, cultural and economic aspects of the Missouri River. The breadth of this presentation had something of interest for everyone, allowing faculty to see how they might incorporate the river into their course. We also went on a field trip to look at various features of the Missouri River: this had the most positive impact on faculty. Seeing and learning about the river inspired faculty to make changes to their courses. We hope to hold a similar type of work shop at least every two years to inspire new faculty participants and to reinvigorate continuing participants.

During the semester, we held brown bag lunch meetings so that the faculty could gather, ask questions, and share their experiences with the other faculty. A regular meeting of the faculty helps to build a sense of community. We hope that faculty who have participated in the Sustainable Rivers program model will serve as advocates in their respective departments to help recruit interested faculty in the future.

Sustaining Change

USD has majors in both earth sciences and sustainability. The sustainability major is relatively new (2012) and is interdisciplinary. Combined, these programs serve approximately 50 majors. USD also houses the Missouri River Institute (MRI), a consortium of faculty who conduct research on Missouri River related issues. Faculty associated with the Institute are primarily in the sciences, but social science faculty also participate. This project uses the faculty connections within the Institute to promote earth science and sustainability issues – as related to the river – in their classes. The MRI sponsors an interdisciplinary course taught by Earth Science and Biology faculty called Introduction to River Studies that focuses on the ecology, geology, and cultural resources of the Missouri River. This course was one of the classes on campus altered to incorporate InTeGrate modules into the curriculum.

Even though we are employing place-based learning that focuses on a regionally relevant topic, many of the issues facing those who live and rely upon the Missouri River are shared by others who live by and value other rivers in the United States. Therefore, we envision that this program could be utilized by many other colleges and universities.