MOST RECENT ARTICLES

SECEIJ Winter 2016 Issue

Storm Impacts Research: Using SENCER-Model Courses to Address Policy

Winter 2016 /
According to the National Council Population Report (NOAA 2013), the Connecticut shoreline has the fifth highest (non-freshwater) coastal population density in the United States and is one of the most intensively developed shorelines in the country. The ratio of the value of total insured coastal county property/km of linear shoreline length for Connecticut is $3.69 billion/km, second only to New York State (AIRWorldwide 2013). In the face of climate change and sea level rise, shoreline properties in Connecticut face increased risk of damage caused by hurricanes and other large storms.
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Teaching Through Human-Driven Extinctions and Climate Change

Winter 2016 /
Many students enroll in introductory geology classes merely to fulfill a distribution requirement (Gilbert et al. 2012). At the University of Kansas, all undergraduate students are required to take a natural science course regardless of their major, and this class is often their only college-level science class and the last science class they will ever take. Given that two of the most pressing issues facing humanity right now—climate change and the prospect of human-caused mass extinctions—can best be understood through a geological lens, we decided to redevelop Geol 121, "Prehistoric Life from DNA to Dinosaurs," an introductory paleontology class for non-majors, according to the SENCER model. Although geology majors can take this class to supplement the required introductory geology course, the majority of the students are not majoring in a STEM field.
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Scientific Examination of Cultural Heritage Raises Awareness in Local Communities

Winter 2016 /
The preservation of cultural heritage is a critical civic responsibility, especially in Italy where the vast array of cultural treasures ranges from the renowned mega-cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice to almost every village. This rich distribution of material culture demands local civic engagement simply because national and governmental institutions alone cannot effectively manage the sheer quantity and scope of artistic and archaeologic heritage sites. Consequently, the role played by local advocates and organizations is critical, though not always obvious to communities faced with other pressing needs. Advocacy and public education is needed to shed light on the connection between civic and economic wellbeing and the preservation and protection of cultural heritage (Bonacini et al. 2014). In Italy, as well as in other European countries, there have been significant cuts to public funding for art conservation. It is therefore more urgent than ever that local communities mobilize and provide adequate financing to appropriately conserve and maintain their cultural heritage.
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Music: The Link between Science and the Humanities

Winter 2016 /
In response to the need for new courses with innovative teaching strategies, faculty at Auburn University developed a "Music and Science" general education course to promote the integration of STEM and the humanities. This class is intended to develop students' interest and engagement in music and science in order to enhance their understanding of the connection between the two disciplines throughout history and in today's world. We used several class activities to actively engage the students during the course, including guided listening exercises, concert experience analysis, and an experiential learning based research project. A primary goal of adding the research project was to provide the students with a deeper understanding of research methodology, physiology, the neuroscience of music, and how the use of music can be designed into settings to improve one's quality of life.
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Why We Should Not 'Go it Alone': Strategies for Realizing Interdisciplinarity in SENCER

Winter 2016 /
In most of our academic lives as faculty, many of us are used to, and perhaps even prefer, working alone. We can easily empathize with our students who complain about the hazards and time drain that they experience doing group work in classes. Some of us might go so far as to say we'd rather go it alone than ever have to adjust to planning our teaching with others. After all, when we do it alone, course planning can take place in the wee hours, does not require multiple meetings, and affords us the greatest flexibility and control over what happens in the classroom.
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Students as Curators: Visual Literacy, Public Scholarship, and Public Health

Winter 2016 /
Designing a public exhibition is one way for students to meet the goals of the Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education quoted in the article. Students able to combine visual literacy with strong writing will be better prepared "to function creatively and confidently in the working environments of the twenty-first century" (Weber 2007). Scientists rely on visual images, animations, and 3D models to convey research findings and concepts, yet educational research shows that students "do not necessarily automatically acquire visual literacy during general instruction," but must be explicitly taught these skills (Schönborn et al. 2006). Exhibition design provides a powerful pedagogical approach, helping students learn to "author" in a manner distinct from traditional writing.
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Women in STEM: A Civic Issue with an Interdisciplinary Approach

Winter 2016 /

Despite efforts to increase the representation of women in STEM fields, the gender gap in fields such as physics and engineering still persists (American Association of University Women 1998; Brickhouse 2001; Brotman and Moore, 2008). This gap is observed in both undergraduate education and in the workplace (Brickhouse 2001).

The need to recruit a more diverse workforce in the STEM fields dates back to the Sputnik crisis and America's response to the perceived technological disparity between the U.S. and rival nations in the 1950s. Today a serious lack of workers in STEM areas is exacerbated by the underrepresentation of women entering such fields. Increasing participation in STEM areas will invigorate society's efforts to innovate and design solutions for complex technological problems in the future. Clearly, ignoring a whole cohort of potential STEM workers when there is a natural shortage of people in the field does not alleviate the problem. Furthermore, increased female participation in STEM fields may yield a more equitable society.

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The Use of Untested Drugs to Treat the Ebola Virus Epidemic: A Learning Activity to Engage Learners

Winter 2016 /

The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa (Figure 1) has placed various governments, non-government organizations, and communities at local, national, and international levels in situations that they have never faced before. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if left untreated, Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans, further spread through contact with bodily fluids (WHO 2014, ¶1). Initial EVD outbreaks typically start in rural areas but quickly spread to urban centers with larger populations, further compounding the need for consideration of human needs and proper scientific investigation (Quammen 2015; Wolinksy 2015).

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