Patricia Stapleton: Using Major Storms and Community Resilience in American Public Policy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
About this CourseAn introductory course for all majors; often taken to fulfill general social science requirement.
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
Students often take my public policy class to fulfill a basic social science requirement at our science and engineering institution. As a result, I wanted to provide my science and engineering majors with content that would engage them and demonstrate the links between policy and their other studies. The Major Storms and Community Resilience module provided the opportunity to bring geoscience data into my social science classroom, with an interdisciplinary approach.
The students responded positively to the module, especially the town hall debate. Although they were initially reluctant about the debate format - mostly worried about speaking in front of their classmates - the teams did an excellent job of representing their interests and negotiating with other groups to come to shared recommendations.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate MaterialsThe original materials had too many activities for our intended timeline of 3 weeks. Due to time constraints, I did not implement the Coastal Erosion Activity or the Debris Removal Activity.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
My course runs for a 7-week term (~1/2 a traditional semester). The module was implemented in the 2nd Spring term at WPI (March-May 2016). The first half of the course focused on establishing the basic theories and concepts of American public policy. The module was incorporated as an in-depth case study to demonstrate theoretical and conceptual application. The course also focused on the role of scientific experts in public policymaking and the importance of risk assessment, risk management, and resilience in policy processes. Thus, the module gave students the opportunity to explore policymaking approaches in a real-world policy issue area.