SAGE 2YC > Change Agent Teams > Wisconsin Change Agent Team

Wisconsin Change Agent Team

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Melvin Arthur Johnson, University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc
Keith West, University of Wisconsin - Marinette

Jump Down To: Progress to Date | Team Activities | Team Members | Institutions

Purpose Statement

We are working to facilitate the professional pathways of geoscience students at two-year colleges in Wisconsin. Our current focus is on improving the transferability of our classes to the four-year campuses within the UW System, so that our students will see the geosciences as a viable academic and career path. At the same time, we are incorporating active learning strategies into our courses and teaching our students metacognitive skills, to prepare them for such an academic or career path. Furthermore, we are working to broaden our student base in both number and diversity. Through our workshops and interactions with regional educational alliances, we remain dedicated to providing opportunities for our region's geoscience colleagues to learn about and benefit from the knowledge and skills we are gaining from our participation in the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project.

Progress to Date

We were somewhat buoyed by the response we received at our Spring Follow-On Activity and at our August department meeting. Our colleagues in the UW Colleges have increasingly been implementing active learning strategies and their experiences and success stories have encouraged others to attempt the same in their classes. Encouraging exploration into how active learning and metacognition can improve instruction will continue to be a goal of our team.

Right now we are primarily focused on our Fall 2017 Workshop, which is designed to include geoscience faculty from the comprehensive (four-year) campuses in the University of Wisconsin System. We have sessions planned to encourage developing relationships between the campuses and between individual faculty on those campuses with special focus on enhancing the transfer process – our best way of establishing academic pathways for our students – between the two-year and four-year institutions. Our registrations to date are showing an encouraging blend of faculty from several campuses at each level.

Complicating all of this – and, in particular, our emphasis on transferability – is a recent proposal before our regents to eliminate the UW Colleges and to join each campus to one of the four-year universities. This proposal is being championed by the University of Wisconsin President (which means it is likely to be adopted) and is scheduled to be completed by 1 July 2018. Few details have been revealed, but it is almost certain that the Geography/Geology Department of the UW Colleges will no longer exist and that "transfer" will take on a whole new meaning. This should change the dialogue between two-year and four-year geoscientists at our Fall Workshop in ways that are difficult to anticipate at this time. We may, however, have inadvertently gotten the jump on conversations that will need to occur in all academic disciplines within the UW System.

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

2016 Workshop
Friday 28 October 2016, UW-Manitowoc

2017 Workshop
November 3, 2017, UW Fond du Lac

Spring Follow-on Activities

Spring 2017 Event

Friday, 21 April 2017, UW-Fond du Lac

Team Members

Melvin Arthur Johnson

In 2015, Mel was awarded a Certificate as a Geographic Information Science Professional. He also received the President's Award from the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges in 2005, 2009, and 2015 and is a reader for the AP Human Geography examination.


Mel teaches Geography, Introduction to GIS, Introduction to Maps and Air Photos, Introduction to Cultural Geography, World Regional Geography, and Human Impact to the Environment.

Keith West

Keith has taught elementary school, middle school and high school. He has also worked in research and development, quality control and environmental management in private industry.


Keith teaches Intro to Physical Geography, Geography of Wisconsin, Human Geography, World Regional Geography, Physical Geography, and Natural Disasters.


Jump to: University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc | University of Wisconsin - Marinette

University of Wisconsin Colleges

Both the University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc and the University of Wisconsin - Marinette are campuses in the multi-campus University of Wisconsin Colleges (UWC), the two-year college part of the University of Wisconsin System. There are 13 physical and one online campuses in the UWC system. The Geography/Geology Department includes approximately 22 full time and adjunct faculty from across all the campuses, typically one or two faculty from each of the campuses and is part of the Math/Natural Science Division. Most faculty teach at one campus exclusively, but a few teach at multiple campuses.

University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc

Campus: The University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc serves 460 credit students from its campus on Lake Michigan. The students at UW-MAN include 61% first-generation college students and 39% part-time students.

Geoscience program: The geoscience program at University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc is made up of 1 full time, tenure-track geography professor. The biology department offers an environmental science course. The geoscience program offers courses in Physical Geology, Geography, Introduction to GIS, Introduction to Maps and Air Photos, Introduction to Cultural Geography, World Regional Geography, and Human Impact to the Environment. UW-Manitowoc is a small campus and, as a result, enrollments are not large for any particular class. In geography/geology, there are normally a total of 50-75 students per semester. The largest enrollments are in Physical Geography. The typical student is a non-science major who needs a lab science course but does not want to take biology, chemistry, or physics. The department offers a geography, geoscience, and environmental science emphasis, but no majors.

University of Wisconsin - Marinette

Campus: The University of Wisconsin - Marinette serves almost 500 students at its campus on Green Bay in eastern Wisconsin. The students at UW-MNT include 64% first-generation college students and 56% part-time students.

Geoscience program: The geoscience program at University of Wisconsin - Marinette offers courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Meteorology, Environmental Science, Geography, Earth System Science, Cultural Geography, Human Geography, and Regional Geography. It has one tenured faculty member. Across campus, most students do not have declared majors, and the vast majority of the students in geoscience classes are satisfying general education requirements, although we have been known to attract a few converts.

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