When we initially began our work as SAGE 2YC Change Agents, we could not have predicted to what extent our work might impact our institution. As we reflect on our work now, we are excited to see how small seeds, with some nurturing and certainly a good amount of time investment, can develop and affect more than just a person or department.
The goal of developing a more vibrant and visible Oceanography "program" has, through many little steps, led to more collaborations within our department and across campus, increased the visibility of MtSAC in the region, and opened the door for our students to better engage with our faculty and those from other institutions. How so?
1. Through our Oceanography lecture series, as evident by sign-in sheets, we have been able to reach out to colleagues from various disciplines on our campus, including staff members, welcomed visitors to our campus from other 2YCs (a benefit of many of our part-time faculty working at several institutions of higher education, who advertise our series to students and faculty at other campuses), the regional geological societies, and regional 4YCUs. A lecture series with four to six speakers per academic year is manageable (securing speakers can be a challenge) and in our opinion is sufficient to bring the department/campus/community together to promote Ocean Sciences.
2. One of the Guided Pathways Initiative and SAGE 2YC project goals is to support career and transfer pathways. Through our collaboration with other institutions via the Ocean lecture series (e.g. UC Riverside and Cal Poly Pomona) and joint field trips/research experiences (e.g. UC Los Angeles), we have increased awareness for Ocean Sciences careers and given our students a way to informally interact with faculty from a number of regional institutions of higher education. At this time we do not have any confirmed transfer students into a marine sciences program, but some have shared that they are in the application process. Since becoming Change Agents, we have improved our efforts to advertise summer research opportunities to our students. This is in great part thanks to higher information flow regarding these types of opportunities coming our way through the project leaders, other change agents, and regional contacts, some of who we met through our SAGE 2YC workshop.
3.Due to the complex and multi-level process of getting a new course approved, we have engaged in many cross campus conversations regarding growth of course offerings, certificate programs, transfer degrees, etc. These conversations go beyond a department's wish to grow opportunities for its students and include valuable conversations about the benefits of Learning Communities, mandates from the state level, etc. Our SAGE 2YC regional workshop was centered around this theme as well (PathWaves to Success: Building Bridges between 2YC and 4YC Ocean Sciences Programs). It was valuable for both 2YC and 4YCU colleagues to hear about the challenges of adding courses to the curriculum, regardless of the level of institution.
4. In preparation for our second Oceanography course, which will be structured to include teaching modules with research and field components, we have adopted a float through the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. This float, named "Doc Baldy" (Baldy is the nickname of Mt. San Antonio, the namesake of our campus) is collecting oceanographic data in the Southern Atlantic Ocean from surface to 2,000m water depth as of October 2018. A number of parameters measured are also of interest to other disciplines. Within our division, chemistry faculty have developed a teaching module using data collected by Doc Baldy. We hope to engage our students more deliberately in cross-disciplinary work in the near future. Our and many other SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling Project) floats can be found at https://www.mbari.org/adoptafloatviz/.