Courses and Materials

Part of the InTeGrate University of South Dakota Program Model

Courses and teaching materials adopted or adapted by the project.


ESCI/BIOL 442: Introduction to River Studies (Earth Science and Biology)

Instructor: Mark Sweeney
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015 (Fall of every odd year)
Course Level: Upper level

Course Description: Large rivers provide important ecosystem services to society, are managed for diverse goals, and increasingly experience stress from increasing water resource demands and global change. Students will gain understanding of important concepts in river science (ecology, hydrology, geomorphology) and management, as well as policy, history, and the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, with an emphasis on the Missouri River and examples from other rivers in the U.S. and abroad.

Sweeney incorporated the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module into the River Studies class after an introduction to flooding. Students completed Unit 4: Hazards from Flooding during class and partly as homework. This was followed by presenting information from the Map Your Hazards Module, Unit 1: Hazards, Vulnerability and Risk. Students completed Activity 1, Part B over two class periods. The students created two flood hazard maps from the 2011 Missouri River flood on pre-selected Google Earth imagery and used data on maximum flood elevations. For the first map, they created a flood inundation map of "Lazy River Acres", a mobile home community built along the Missouri River. The students then assessed the impacts of the flood on residents, roads, buildings and other infrastructure. They created a second flood hazard map for the area around Eppley Airfield (the major airport serving Omaha). Here, impacts were focused on agriculture, businesses, and major transportation arteries. For both areas, the students considered impacts to people of different socio-economic backgrounds.
Flood Map

Towards the end of the semester, Sweeney incorporated Unit 3: Translating the Message from the Map Your Hazards Module. The students identified and researched potential stakeholders of the Missouri River (including Native Americans, recreation, transportation sector, agriculture, etc.) and came to broad consensus in two diverse groups to make recommendations to the US Army Corps of Engineers on how to manage the Missouri River. Students presented their results in front of class. The InTeGrate modules and units 1) reinforced scientific concepts related to flooding in an area familiar to them, and 2) allowed the students to appreciate the spectrum of viewpoints from stakeholders and the challenge in managing the river to meet the needs of many.

GEOG 210: World Geography (Anthropology)

Instructor: Silvana Rosenfeld
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Introductory
Course Description: This course introduces students to the way that geographers think in the context of facts about the world around you. Geography is an integrative discipline that bridges the social and natural sciences examining topics as varied as religion and earthquakes. What makes Geography unique among the natural and social sciences? To Geographers, it is where events occur that is of primary importance. As a spatially oriented discipline, geography studies where human and natural phenomena occur. Mapping then is an indispensable tool utilized by geographers to convey where particular cultural or natural phenomena occur and as such is an important component of this course. Further, within this class we explicitly recognize that vast geographic changes are taking place because of globalization. Globalization can be considered the most fundamental reorganization of the world's socioeconomic, cultural, and geopolitical structure since the Industrial Revolution. We will discuss two interactive themes and opposing forces: the consequences of converging environmental, cultural, political, and economic systems inherent to globalization, and the persistence of geographic diversity and differences amid globalization.

Dr. Rosenfeld adapted content from the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module in her classes, and the course was also influenced by how humans alter floods and streams module. During the week when the North American region was covered, two classes focused on the Upper Missouri river basin and its dams and channelization the river. They discussed energy and recreational benefits as well as the problems with biodiversity. The class discussed issues related to the effects of dams on flood contention and duration. Later in the semester, we compared that case to others outside North America, most notable the case of the Three Gorge dam in China, and the dams and planned dams along the Mekong river in SE Asia.

ESCI 385: Energy and Sustainability (Earth Science)

Instructor: Tim Heaton
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Spring 2016
Course Level: Upper level
Course Description: The course surveys energy options (fossil fuels, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) and their sustainability (capacity, renewability, and environmental impact).

Heaton included information from the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module in his lectures. Students in small teams researched energy production and energy utilization related to hydroelectric dams and presented to the class. ESCI 385 went on a field trip to see one of the turbines of the hydroelectric dam on the Missouri River at Gavins Point Dam.

ENGL 210: Intro to Literature (English)

Instructor: Paul Formisano
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Spring 2016
Course Level: Introductory
Course Description: Readings in fiction, drama, and poetry to acquaint students with literature and aesthetic form.

Dr. Formisano incorporated the Sustainable Rivers project into his class through the two units addressing river systems and environmental justice. To help students understand how rivers work and to better recognize the Colorado River Watershed's unique characteristics, Dr. Formisano began the semester with information from units 1 and 2 from the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module. He provided an overview of the hydrologic cycle and then turned to a discussion about erosion and fluvial systems with particular attention given to the collecting, transporting, and distributing zones of a river system. He augmented this discussion with various images of rivers and a video from the National geographic Society on the Colorado River from source to mouth. The Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources was the second module from the Sustainable Rivers Project used in this class. The first unit's PowerPoint presentation was useful and led to a class discussion about justice, environmental justice, and locating current examples of the latter. The class focused on issues relating to Flint, Michigan's drinking water crisis and to Native and Mexican water rights along the Colorado River.The class focused on issues relating to Flint, Michigan's drinking water crisis and to Native and Mexican water rights along the Colorado River.

SEED 413: 7-12 Science Methods (School of Education)

Instructor: Cathy Ezrailson
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Spring 2016
Course Level: Upper level
Course Description: Science Methods are the essential skills future secondary teachers need to acquire in order to teacher excellent, safe, and well-articulated science courses in middle and high schools. Pre-service teachers develop an understanding of the tools of inquiry of 7-12 sciences, the ability to design implement and evaluate a variety of instructional processes. They incorporate best practices, excellent resources, and technologies, developed to align with state and national standards. They design safe and appropriate classroom, lab and field instruction for their science courses, as well. Inherent to this process is the ability to flexibly and masterfully assess student science learning and to apply their knowledge, skills, and attitudes to real life situations and experiences to enhance and produce the education of students who are scientifically literate, making appropriate and productive judgments about scientific phenomena and issues facing a modern society.

Dr. Ezrailson incorporated the Sustainable Rivers project into her class in several ways. Initially, students read about the Missouri River, pollution sources and their implications, then researched and selected water safety analysis procedures in order to sample and test four sites on the Vermillion and Missouri Rivers during a field excursion. Subsequently, the students were instructed in safety issues around field studies and sampling techniques. They then helped to develop the scope and sequence of their field study using brainstorming and engineering design skills. Their readings included:

The field experience included sampling water temperature, turbidity, and later analysis of E.coli colony counts. Our class partnered with an award winning science teacher from Mitchell School District to further develop our sampling techniques, based on her long experience in field sampling. From the SERC site, we adapted the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module, and the course was also influenced by the Research on Learning in the Geosciences module.

SUST 201: Society and Sustainability (Sustainability)

Instructor: Meghann Jarchow
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Introductory
Syllabus: SUST 201 (Acrobat (PDF) 194kB Nov30 16); Summative Assessment Handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Nov30 16)

Course Description: Sustainability is an emerging field that seeks to address many of society's complex and interdisciplinary issues. Sustainability is often described as moving towards systems that are environmentally beneficial, socially just, and economically profitable both now and into the future. This course examines what is meant by the term sustainability and will assess how sustainability can be used as a framework to address complex societal issues including human population and affluence, privilege and environmental justice, and sustainable development.

Dr. Jarchow incorporated the Sustainable Rivers project into her class in three ways. First, a major learning outcome for SUST 201 is for the students to enhance their systems-thinking skills. Dr. Jarchow uses concept mapping as a tool for helping to develop systems-thinking skills throughout the course including using the Using Concept Mapping to Experientially Introduce Systems Thinking activity. Second, after Whites, Native Americans are the most populous race in South Dakota, and environmental injustices towards Native peoples are numerous including many related to the damming and management of the Missouri River. In SUST 201, we partnered with Nebraska Indian Community College to see and hear from tribal elders about environmental injustices to the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) along the Missouri River. Third, we utilized units from the Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources module including Hazardous Waste and Love Canal and Women and Water to learn about other types of environmental injustices beyond the Missouri River.

NATV 110: Introduction to Native American Studies (Native American Studies)

Instructor: Elise Boxer
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Introductory
Course Description: This course introduces concepts foundational to the field of Native American Studies from a multidisciplinary perspective. These themes include: sovereignty and self-determination, indigenous worldviews and philosophies, colonization and decolonization, intellectual and cultural sovereignty and the commitment of Native American Studies to social justice. Boxer adapted the Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources module.

HIST 476: History of South Dakota (History)

Instructor: Molly Rozum
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Upper level
Course Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the broad sweep of South Dakota history, from pre-history to the modern era. Once a place dominated by prairie and plains grasses, now the state is a vast agricultural land of fields and ranges. A state with less than one million people—ten percent of whom are Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota—South Dakota is often viewed as part of what many in the rest of the nation derisively call "fly over" country. This class argues that South Dakota has been central to U.S. history. The course uses a combination of lectures, readings, illustrations, class and group discussions, writing assignments, and historic film clips to develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills as well as content depth.

Dr. Rozum incorporated the Sustainable Rivers Project into her class with the overall goal to integrate science into humanities learning through history. She combined lectures on the science of Missouri River flow and riparian ecology both before and after the mid-twentieth century US Flood Control (Pick-Sloan) Act of 1944 that authorized the construction of four dams on the Missouri River in South Dakota. First, Rozum used several place-based essays for framing her larger goals about the importance of environment to quality of life, including, "Teaching Sustainability Through History" by Dr. Derek Larson, The College of St. Benedict/St. John's University [LINK]; "The Relevance of Place and Sense of Place to Sustainability" by Steven Semken, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University [LINK]; and Semken, "Sense of Place in the Practice and Assessment of Place-Based Science Teaching" [LINK]. Second, Rozum focused on the resources of the "Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources Module" [LINK]. She used the module to teach herself and then translated the environmental science lessons into material and content appropriate for history. She found activities such as "Think-Pair-Share" and the "Jigsaw" useful [Links?]. Finally, through research in secondary history and primary documents related to the Missouri River, Rozum applied contemporary science lessons to specific historical situations and diverse perspectives including those of Indigenous Peoples and Settler Society and their relation to one another over time [LINK?].

ANTH 427: The Holocene (Anthropology)

Instructor: Matt Sayre
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Upper level
Course Description: This course examines the long term impact of the natural environment on human societies and the impacts that humans have in shaping the environment.

Sayre adapted the Hydrotopia, Interactions between Water, Earth, Humans module, and Climate of Change module. His class studied the formation and changing ecology of the river and how this altered human habitation patterns, changing weather patterns, and the expansion of European settlement into the region. The Hydrotropia module was used as a means of integrating concerns about droughts into the curriculum. As we deal with a changing climate greater emphasis will need to be placed on water management and dealing with dramatic swings in water resources. He also incorporated some of the natural science lessons linked to in the InTeGrate modules. One such lesson was: Unit 2: Fluvial Processes that Shape the Natural Landscape. This theoretical and hands-on lesson provided students with the chance to see how weathering, erosion, and the transport and deposition of sediments impacts rivers over the course of time.

UHON 101: Honor's Fundamentals of Speech Communication (Communication Studies)

Instructor: Aimee Sorenson
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Introductory
Course Description: Introduces the study of speech fundamentals and critical thinking through frequent public speaking practice, including setting, purpose, audience, and subject in a manner specifically adapted to the Honors curriculum (a version of SPCM 101 for Honors students).

Sorenson utilized two InTeGrate units to educate and support how students would inform and educate our class about the Missouri River from the perspectives of their choices. She utilized the Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources and emphasized the unique opportunity this project offered to engage in place-based learning. Surprisingly, many students were unaware of how close the river is to campus. The students were encouraged to adapt the course materials to their diverse needs and interests (e.g. if a student was a business major, she could focus on topics such as river commerce). Students were assessed on their ability to gather and evaluate quality information, evidence and supporting materials in support of their speech about a chosen issue with the Missouri River. Moreover, they received support and feedback about their choice of their topic and the interest and adaptation they provided for their audience. Students were also assessed on their ability to effectively organize and express their informative speeches about the Missouri River.

BADM 220: Business Statistics (Economics)

Instructor: Mandie Weinandt
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Fall 2015
Course Level: Introductory
Course Description: Business Statistics I introduces students to basic statistical methods with emphasis on applications in business and economics. Topics with computer application include descriptive statistics, probability, distributions, sampling, estimation, and index numbers.

Dr. Weinandt adapted the Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources module by using information relevant to the Missouri River system and added information on the production of hydroelectric power. She also used data collected on hydroelectric power production in states within the Missouri River Basin and had students analyze the data. Students were asked to create descriptive statistics, five number summaries, graphs, and use excel tools to analyze the data, and answer quantitative and qualitative questions about their analysis. Students were also asked to discuss how threats to the Missouri river would affect hydroelectric power in South Dakota and how these changes would affect businesses in South Dakota.

BIOL 101: Biology Survey (Biology)

Instructor: David Swanson
Term(s) and Year(s) Offered: Spring 2016
Course Level: Introductory
Course Description: Biology Survey is a large (approximately 100 students) lecture/lab course, primarily for non-science majors. This course is designed to provide cursory coverage of the entirety of biology over the year-long sequence, with some emphasis to provide relevant, real-life, examples relating to the general content of the course. The BIOL 103 course is the second semester of the sequence and covers the topics of evolution, biodiversity, population ecology, community & ecosystems ecology, conservation and climate change.

Swanson adapted the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module. He added more hydrology/river function/river regulation information into the course than he typically would to tie together information about how the river works to modify the landscape, how dams have changed this, and what impacts those changes have had on plants and animals dependent on the river for their habitats. The learning objectives for the InTeGrate activities included understanding the links between hydrology (river function) and riparian vegetation and bird communities and how these links may be impacted by flow regulation by dams and climate change. To accomplish these objects, he offered mini-lectures and in-class active learning exercises centered around the following sub-themes: How Do Rivers Change?; Climate Change Impacts on River Function; River Function and Riparian Vegetation (focusing on the role of the iconic riparian forest specialist, the cottonwood tree), and Relationships among Birds and Riparian Forest Succession. The final course project, which was used as one of the summative assessments, was to have students calculate impacts of flow regulation on forest structure and bird populations both currently and given future projections of flow regulation.

Teaching Materials

Modules Adapted

See the course descriptions at right for details on how the modules were adapted for particular courses.

Adapted Materials

SUST 201