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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Instructor Materials: Major Storms and Community Resilience Module

Module Goal: The overarching goal of the Major Storms & Community Resilience Module is to provide coherent and comprehensive teaching materials that address the Grand Challenge of Natural Hazard Adaptation and Mitigation. To that end, there are three specific learning goals for this module:
  1. Students will be able to identify and describe weather-related hazards and vulnerabilities for their community;
  2. Students will be able to relate historical storm data at the national- and local-scale in order to draw conclusions and community preparedness and current and future community vulnerabilities;
  3. Students will be able to develop evidence-based strategies and recommendations to mitigate local community vulnerabilities to storms with specific emphasis on different sectors and/or stakeholders in that community.

Module Summative Assessment: Students will apply and evaluate concepts in the context of their local community, culminating in the formulation and evaluation of hazard mitigation plan recommendations presented in a stakeholder position paper. In addition, students present and debate their positions in a town hall-style meeting. They are assessed on both their policy position paper and oral presentations (see Unit 3 for more detail).

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

As a whole, this module provides an opportunity for students to engage in analyzing data, evaluating real-world solutions to mitigating risk from a natural hazard, and develop arguments from evidence about how to modify or refine those plans to better represent all stakeholders. The module could be easily adapted for any community that has a hazard mitigation plan in place, but is best suited to coastal communities.

Unit 1 Foundational Concepts

Unit 1 introduces foundational concepts in geoscience, emergency management, and political science that are critical for achieving the learning objectives in the storm module. More specifically, within Unit 1 students acquire a vocabulary related to storm systems and risk, engage in practical exercises on event probability and frequency, and complete written activities and oral presentations that reinforce these concepts within the context of their own community and for two case studies (State of New Hampshire and New Orleans, LA). The activities include: a pre-and post-Unit survey on natural hazard risks; an exercise on probability and frequency of natural hazards in general and related to major storms in particular; an exercise using Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) and the HVA's findings; and a synthesis assignment that requires analysis of an assigned Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) and development of a proposal to improve mitigation plans.

Learning Objective: Through Unit 1, students recognize and define physical, social, and policy foundational concepts, and they develop initial literacy in climate hazards, risks, and social response through emergency management and strategic planning. Students without any prior training in risk assessment and management should have an introductory lesson in those concepts before attempting this module. Unit 1 reinforces these concepts (risk, risk assessment, risk management, hazard, hazard mitigation, stakeholders), and introduces additional concepts necessary to understanding risks related to storms and feedback associated with climate change. These include understanding and working knowledge of event probability and event frequency, recurrence intervals, characteristics of major storms and associated natural hazards (i.e. storm surge, flooding, wind chill, blizzard), storm-related threats to critical infrastructure (i.e. electrical supply, transportation routes, drinking water), Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) and Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP), policy memoranda, and implementation. Through the assigned activities, students will develop critical thinking and assessment skills of risk/hazard documentation, learn to analyze mitigation plans in a comparative context, and utilize and synthesize data in order to critique hazard mitigation plans. Students demonstrate their understanding by successfully completing the probability assignment, presenting proposals during an in-class discussion that address risk mitigation shortfalls and offer recommendations to improve the plans, and improving literacy scores in pre- versus post-unit completion surveys. Unit 1's activities encourage and promote writing, math, and data management and data visualization skills in a real-world context. The discussion session at the end of Unit 1 also will act as a low-stakes activity that reinforces foundational concepts and prepares students for the town hall-style debate at the termination of the module.

Potential Materials (links to readings are also provided on Unit page):

Assessments: Students will be assessed on their understanding of foundational concepts across the three disciplines in several ways.

  • First, instructors will administer an initial pre-unit assessment quiz to determine prior knowledge of foundational concepts.
  • In the first class, students will complete an activity focused on the concepts of probability and comparative risk probabilities with a focus on the state of New Hampshire that will be assessed by the instructor.
  • Students will then complete a HVA for their local community as a homework assignment utilizing the Hazard Vulnerability Analysis Tool to facilitate the discussion of emergency management concepts, which will also be assessed by the instructor.
  • Students will participate in an in-class discussion of their HMPs. While the debate will not be formally assessed using a rubric, instructors will provide informal feedback to students regarding their participation in the debate and the strength of the ideas presented. HMP assignments will be formally assessed.
  • Finally, in the second class, instructors will administer the same assessment quiz to determine post-unit understanding of foundational concepts.

Unit 2 Application of Concepts to Case Studies

In Unit 2, students apply and evaluate foundational concepts about storm hazard and risk in the context of two cases studies: Superstorm Sandy (2012) and Storm of the Century (1993). Through different activities and assignments, students develop skills for finding, evaluating, and relating data to case studies in relation to preparedness, response, and resilience. The activities include: an analysis of Hazard Mitigation Plans for their local community, examination of storm-related geophysical processes in the context of societal risks, preparation of a press release for community preparedness, and a peer review activity and revision opportunity for the press releases.

Learning Objective: After completing Unit 2, students will be able to: find and analyze long-term sea-level and storm surge data; evaluate the Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) for their local community in the context of major storms; assess risk communication plans; identify stakeholder positions for risk communication plans; and develop their own risk communication plans and effectively communicate them in writing.

Materials:

  • Students will review government documents and news reports on Superstorm Sandy and the 1993 Storm of the Century, in addition to coastal erosion, sea-level rise, and critical infrastructure data.

Assessments:

  • Students will be assigned one of two storms (hurricane or winter storm) and will complete activities and written assignments within the context of their storm type.
  • In-class, students will complete a data search activity on storm impacts. They will have to find and record information such as: geoscience data on storm impact; statistics on critical infrastructure (hospital locations, power grid, transportation hubs, etc.); and facts about agencies relevant to continuity of community operations.
  • Instructors will assign a review of the local Hazard Mitigation Plan for homework. Based on their review, students will prepare a one-page press release regarding community preparedness for their assigned storm type (for example, something like the City of Boston.gov Blizzard Preparedness Efforts press release may be found using the News & Press Releases search engine of the web site).

Unit 3 Culmination of Module in Town Hall Meeting

Over the course of one week, students will apply and evaluate concepts in the context of their local community, culminating in the formulation and evaluation of hazard mitigation plan recommendations presented in stakeholder position papers. These position papers, which will also serve as the summative assessment of the Major Storms and Community Resilience Module, will be presented and assessed during a town-hall style meeting. In this role-playing activity, students apply and evaluate concepts in the context of assigned stakeholder positions from their local community. Over the course of a week, students formulate and evaluate hazard mitigation plan recommendations for major storms, and then present those recommendations in a town hall-style meeting. These assignments demonstrate students' ability to develop evidence-based strategies and recommendations to mitigate local community vulnerabilities to storms with specific emphasis on different sectors and/or stakeholders in that community. Instructors will assess student achievement of the learning goals through a formal oral presentation and a team policy position paper. As such, the culmination of Unit 3 in the town hall-style meeting serves as the summative assessment for the Major Storms module.

Learning Objective: Students will demonstrate their ability to develop strategies and recommendations to mitigate local community vulnerabilities to storms with specific emphasis on different sectors and/or stakeholders in that community.

Materials:

  • Local hazard mitigation plans and local geoscience data specific to a particular storm type (to be determined by instructor), as well as
  • CDC documents on crisis, emergency, and risk communication, and
  • the Geological Society's position paper on geooscience and natural hazards.

Assessments:

  • Students will review and comment on their community's current hazard mitigation plan and complete a mock-up comment form to provide feedback on strengths and weaknesses of the community hazard mitigation plan. In an assigned stakeholder role, students will formulate recommendations for a revised hazard mitigation plan. As a group, students will write a policy position paper, making a case for their recommendations, and then present and debate their positions in a town hall-style. They will be assessed on their paper and oral presentation.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »