InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Ocean Sustainability
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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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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This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Nov 22, 2016

Summary

This two- to three-week, six-unit module introduces the importance of oceans, basic ocean processes, and impacts of human activity on ocean health. It aims to increase awareness of our dependence on and responsibility for the largest habitat on Earth. Materials encourage systems thinking by addressing physical, chemical, geological, and biological aspects of the oceans. Students study the oceans from these multiple perspectives using scientific data and engaging activities designed to support higher-level thinking.

Strengths of the Module

This module engages students to learn about the largest and least explored habitat on our planet: the ocean. They are introduced to major oceanographic processes and the effects of global climate change on conditions that sustain marine life, ecosystems and, ultimately, humans. Throughout the module, students are challenged to think about the interconnectedness of Earth systems and how altering the atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere impacts oceans (hydrosphere). One of the primary goals of this module is for students to understand the role that humans play in altering marine systems and their inhabitants and to recognize the power we have as individuals and a society to work toward practices that will sustain our ocean.

To foster an integrated understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of ocean systems students participate in activities that include group discussions and acquisition, analysis and interpretation of scientific data. Working with data sets allows them to employ newly acquired interdisciplinary knowledge to make management decisions for marine protected areas and evaluate the effectiveness of geoengineering strategies that are meant to mitigate climate change through the manipulation of ocean processes. In summary, students will acquire an overall foundation on how the ocean works.

A great fit for courses in:

  • Oceanography
  • Physical Geography
  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Sustainability

Our goal is for students to gain an appreciation of the complexity of ocean processes and the need to study them, and to make students aware of our dependence on and responsibility for the largest habitat on Earth. In this two-week module, students study the oceans from multiple perspectives, using scientific information and engaging activities designed to support higher-level thinking skills. Six units are designed to be taught as a cohesive set, or individually, to meet differing needs of the instructor and course. Students will be introduced to aspects of physical, chemical, geological, and biological oceanography and marine biology using materials that build on inquiry-based pedagogical methods. An emphasis on working with real world data and the scientific method will be a recurring theme of the module. Unit 1 serves as an introduction to the module, and Unit 6 serves as a capstone unit, offering opportunities for students to synthesize the major concepts introduced in Units 1-5.

Supported Earth Science Literacy Principles:

  • Big Idea 1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
  • Big Idea 3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
  • Big Idea 5: Earth is the water planet.
  • Big Idea 6: Life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth.
  • Big Idea 7: Humans depend on Earth for resources.
  • Big Idea 9: Humans significantly alter the Earth.

Supported Ocean Literacy Principles and Fundamental Concepts:

1. Earth has one big ocean with many features.

2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.

3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.

4. The ocean made Earth habitable.

5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

Supported Essential Principles of Climate Science:

2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.

3. Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate.

4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and human-made processes.

5. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling.

6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.

7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.

Addressed grand challenges in Earth and environmental science:

  • Identifying Feedback Between Natural and Perturbed Systems
  • Identifying Proxies for Biodiversity or Ecosystem Health
  • Quantifying consequences, impacts, and effects
  • Effectively communicating uncertainty and relative risk

Addressed grand challenges in Earth system science for global sustainability:

  • Determine how to anticipate, avoid, and manage disruptive global environmental change.
  • Determine institutional, economic, and behavioral changes to enable effective steps toward global sustainability.
  • Encourage innovation (and mechanisms for evaluation) in technological, policy, and social responses to achieve global sustainability.


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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 »