Introduces Innovative Environmental Science Curriculum to Eight
introduced its innovative, multimedia environmental science curriculum
Brownfield Action to eight colleges on April 11-13 in a
seminar aimed at helping other schools adopt the program.
The workshop, led
by Peter Bower, senior lecturer of environmental science, drew
faculty and other participants from Skidmore, Wellesley, Connecticut
College, Trinity University, Spelman, Carleton, Lafayette, and
Rhodes Colleges for an intensive two-day seminar funded by The
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Center for Educational Technologies.
The workshop was offered to faculty and administrative staff at
colleges and universities in the Mid-Atlantic and New England
Bower said: “We
feel that the workshop was successful in that the participants
responded to it positively and at least half of them came up with
concrete ways of how to integrate Brownfield Action into
their science classes. We will follow up with these schools on
how to best package this method for their learning needs. We also
received helpful feedback on how to further develop the program
as a variety of questions on how to best utilize the curriculum
relating to different student bodies, class sizes, and overall
science programs were addressed by the representatives from other
Action is the foundation for Barnard’s Introduction to Environmental
Science, taught by Bower, who developed the program with Ryan
Kelsey of Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching
and Learning (CCNMTL).
was a great opportunity for Professor Bower and me and the CCNMTL
staff to share what we’ve learned through the experience of transforming
his course through the purposeful use of technology. It was exciting
to see so many of the participants enthusiastic about applying
what they learned from the seminar to their educational goals
at their respective institutions,” said Kelsey.
In class, students
learn real-world lessons about cleaning up environmental disasters
through Brownfield Action, a digital simulation that takes
students step by step through the assessment of a contaminated
mock factory. By navigating this CD-ROM and Web-based learning
program, students form environmental consulting teams to assess
a contaminated site as they use principles of geology, environmental
science, physics, and biology, along with historical, legal and
political knowledge gained in the classroom. The goal of the program
is that students learn to do in the classroom what environmental
consultants accomplish in the real world: walk through the site,
investigate it, run tests and examine public records.
According to Bower,
the Brownfield Action curriculum allows students to retain
ideas, concepts and information more efficiently, resulting in
more authentic reports, opposed to the traditional textbook methods.
seminar consisted of hands-on workshops and laboratory sessions
where the participants were shown how to use the main software
and the supporting materials, such as maps and other documents;
they were also instructed in how to navigate the Brownfield
Action Web site. The participants were also introduced to
the wider curriculum, which includes lectures based on contemporary
readings, including A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr and
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.
evaluator from the Columbia Center for New Media, Teaching, and
Learning will assess feedback from the seminar participants and
also will provide follow-up over the course of a year on the impact
of this seminar. The Brownfield Action conference was led
by Bower and Kelsey in conjunction with other staff members.#
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