Initial Publication Date: December 9, 2015

Workshop Synthesis

The final session of the workshop asked participants to summarize their closing thoughts about the workshop topics and experiences. The list below represents a synthesis of some of the common themes regarding coastal hazards, risk, and environmental justice.

See workshop outcomes that build from the ideas expressed in this synthesis.

  • Essentially every environmental hazard issue has dimensions and consequences in terms of environmental justice and disproportionate impacts on people based on their ethnic, gender,cultural and socioeconomic conditions. Often these dimensions are hidden or unexplored. There is both great need and opportunity for educators to help learners to explore these dimensions. However, many educators steeped in single-disciplinary approaches are not well equipped to help their students understand these socio-environmental issues. there is need for continued education of educators to help understand and teach about the connections among hazards, risk and justice.
  • Environmental justice is a good lens for demonstrating the intricate link between the human condition and the environment and the positive and negative impacts that humans can have on this. This is a mechanism for engaging all students and all disciplines in addressing environmental and resource issues. Including introducing the Earth to those who may not be as interested in STEM education.
  • It is important the students understand the relationship between natural conditions, human activities, and risk and resilience. Hazards and disasters are not the same. Human activities enhance or reduce risk.
  • Coastal Hazards, Risk and Environmental Justice is a powerful topic for transdisciplinary learning that connects science to local communities. This topic will also work well in coastal and non-coastal regions. We should explore other topics.
  • It is essential to apply a transdisciplinary approach in dealing with coastal hazards and risk, both natural and anthropogenic.
  • Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teaching is challenging requiring collaboration across departments and programs. Strategies are emerging to address this challenge. We need opportunities to learn about and from groups that are successful in implementing transdisciplinary teaching.
  • Cases are effective in motivating learning, supporting strong pedagogic approaches that engage students, and supporting transdisciplinary teaching and learning. Cases that include environmental justice issues help develop more nuanced understanding of the intersections of science, culture and community. We need more opportunities to share cases and their use in our teaching.
  • Our field trip made the topic of coastal hazards, risk and EJ real and grounded our discussions from a common starting point. This strategy should be used in both teaching and faculty development. Field components are an important aspect of understanding coast hazards and the issues that surround them.
  • The human disconnect from the environment exacerbates environmental issues. Environmental justice and field experiences provide an opportunity build this connection.
  • Working with communities is both powerful for students and challenging for faculty. Both service learning approaches and community based research approaches allow students to work in the community. Community based research approaches can strengthen connections between schools and their communities and facilitate not only the health of the local community but also the flow of students through school and into the workforce.
  • The Emerging Environmental sector is recognized as an important growth area in coastal areas. Economic development organizations are interested in partnerships to foster interaction between students and employers in this arena as well as other kinds of interactions.
  • Capacity for inter- or transdiscipliary work bridging science, social science, engineering, and the humanities; ability to apply scientific knowledge to real world problems; and workforce skills (effective communicators with diverse groups, workplace preparedness, etc) are vital for our students' success in the job market.
  • There is tremendous opportunity and need to engage communities in steering and designing research and university programming that fulfills community needs.
  • The more students understand their role/part in environment and society at large will bring awareness to what we do to the environment in the future. One thing really does affect the other. The more students understand this and actually see it in practice they better they will be able to think critically about self and environment.
  • Networking opportunities among minority serving institutions and between minority serving institutions and predominantly white institutions allowed spread of effective practices, discussion of shared challenges and opportunities to plan for collective action.
  • When we think about issues such as 1) how to prepare students for careers/transitions when we can't work with each one individually 2) how to make/be models of institutional change to help new institutions spin up similar ideas or programs 3) how to expand networks to include people who aren't at this workshop and/or form new partnerships across institutions we need to be thinking about how to scale up beyond one-to-one interactions.