Preparing Students for a Transdisciplinary Approach to Solving a Complex Problem: Traffic Issues in Los Angeles

Nageswar Rao Chekuri, Woodbury University; Zelda Gilbert, Woodbury University; Ken Johnson, City of Burbank, Public Works Department; Anil Kantak, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Marty Tippens, Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Woodbury University


In addition to preparing students in disciplinary areas, universities must train them to become independent thinkers and to be capable of taking part in complex and collective activities outside their disciplines. Furthermore, students should be trained to extract knowledge from scientific practices and procedures, and integrate that knowledge with their disciplinary-specific knowledge to solve real-world complex issues. The training should consist of important mental activities such as analyzing the data to understand inter- and intraconnections; abstracting methods and techniques through analysis and synthesis; mentally organizing such procedures and techniques; and applying those to solve complex environmental and community issues.

This article examines the instructional approach and classroom activities used in the course on Traffic Issues in Los Angeles offered in spring 2008 at Woodbury University. This article also analyzes the students' work and SALG surveys to assess the course. As a part of the transdisciplinary practice, all the group members gathered on a common platform and generated a complex solution. The acceptance of different approaches and perspectives among all constituents to solving the traffic issues was not completely accomplished: partly because of the incommensurability of specialized languages in each of the fields of expertise and partly because of the coordinator's limited competence in moderation, mediation, and transferability to initiate and promote critical and constructive dialogues.

Instructional Approach

It is we who have created the academic disciplines and boundaries in an attempt to understand and tame "nature." If that is our goal, we need to transcend the artificial boundaries of our disciplines. No single academic discipline can fully uncover the interplay and interconnection of factors that underlie complex problems. Each discipline misses part of the point when considering the dynamics of a complex problem. An approach that consequently transcends artificial divisions of knowledge is important for higher education. The "trans­disciplinary approach" combines different fields of knowledge to offer a larger and more-complete solution to complex problems (Kaufman et al. 2003). Nature does not manifest itself in the form of academic disciplines.

The Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences offered the Traffic Issues course in Spring 2008. Four university professors — from mathematics, physics, psychology, and architecture — plus a research engineer from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and a traffic engineer from the city of Burbank Public Works Department were panel members in the course. The physics faculty member coordinated the class and acted as the facilitator. Ten students enrolled for the class, and eight finished. The prerequisites for the course were one 100-level academic writing course, one 200-level math course, one 200-level psychology course, one 200-level science course, and a 100-level public speaking course. The students possessed the required higher cognitive skills and background knowledge in mathematics, science, and psychology as well as the required basic communication and writing skills.

Students with common interests worked together as a group. They formed four groups and chose to write papers and give presentations on the following topics: traffic control systems for the twenty-first century; reorganizing Los Angeles: a transportation plan for Los Angeles to be rerouted; pollution; and Los Angeles integrated. Depending on the expertise required for each topic, each group worked closely with one or more of the panel members. The faculty members approached the issue from the perspective of their disciplines. The research engineer provided the cutting-edge expertise in the field of deep-space communication, and the traffic engineer provided practical experience, knowledge about government policies, and actual implementation expertise on day-to-day issues of the traffic in Burbank and Los Angeles.

The class had one introductory session, seventeen instructional sessions, three wrap-up sessions, two synthesis sessions, one field trip, one mid-term presentation session, one final presentation session, and one panel discussion session to discuss the options and solutions for the issue. At the first session, each panel member explained their expectations and plans for the course. The facilitator, who was also the physics expert, explained the learning outcomes and classroom procedures. Each panel member presented topics relevant to the traffic problem. Most topics were explained by more than one panel member. For example when discussing traffic flow, the mathematician presented a mathematical model for the traffic flow, the communications engineer showed how the flow can be further improved with the help of effective communication, and the traffic engineer explained the practical conditions, current statistics on the Sig Alerts, traffic jams, and limitations. After the psychologist described the psychological aspects of traffic issues, such as road rage and other human factors, the traffic engineer presented the statistical data about fatalities. Thus, the panel members team-taught most of the topics by complementing and supplementing the material of the other panelists. The coordinator, who was present for all sessions, presented summaries and discussed the procedure of analysis and synthesis during wrap up and synthesis sessions.

An ideal situation would have been that all panel members attended each session to understand the logic and procedures of other areas and to learn from other members. Panel members, however, were only able to teach their sessions and attend corresponding wrap-up sessions with the coordinator.

Each wrap-up session started with questions for the students to summarize the important points of the sessions, how those points related to the issue, and how they related to each other. In the wrap-up sessions, students identified how their independent learning, which included reading papers, out-of-classroom learning experiences, and so on, would help improve their understanding and approach to solving the problem. The panel members then presented their summaries and their opinions in light of the new data the students brought to the class. Students submitted weekly summaries to the panel member who conducted that week's session.

The synthesis sessions were initiated by asking the students to identify highlights, regularities, and patterns in each topic and between the topics thus far taught and their impact on the traffic issue. The coordinator wrote the students' ideas on the board and added more ideas. He further highlighted the important aspects of the ideas and connections between the ideas. In addition, he identified patterns, similarities, and differences and showed how to generate generalized procedures and techniques from the patterns.

All panel members were present during the midterm and final presentations and during the final panel discussions to give feedback to the students for further improvement.

When writing their papers, students needed to explain explicitly how the topics related to each other, how the topics related to the problem, and how the data they gathered during their research and literature survey lead to the proposed solution. They were asked to indicate how the topics contributed to their position or proposed solution. For the midterm paper and presentations, each group proposed a solution based on the topics covered to that time.

A student group and one of the five panel members formed as teams to generate a final solution. Students went to Burbank Traffic control room to witness the live traffic and signal control.

On the final paper, they modified their midterm solution in light of the entire semester's work. The final was performed in two stages: on the first day, the student groups presented their papers, on the second day, the student groups participated in a panel discussion.

Analysis of the Data

A SENCER-recommended inventory, Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG), was administered on the first and last days of the course. The students' final papers and SALG results were analyzed. Each panel member graded the summaries on the topics he or she taught. Equal weight was given to all the topics. The analysis and the results are presented here.

Criteria for Grading the papers

The criteria are represented with symbol (Cx.) C1 through C6 covering reasoning skills and transdisciplinarity, and C7 through C8 covering social-civic engagement.

Recognizing the issues and its complexity (C1).

Realizing the knowledge components (traditional: urban planning, communication, physics/science, psychology, and math; nontraditional: experiential knowledge from Burbank traffic engineer) necessary to address the issue (C2).

Analyzing and synthesizing the knowledge components to understand the inter- and intrarelations between the chosen elements and their contribution to the problem (C3).

Presenting new ideas, solutions, and concepts and applying the same to the problem (C4).

Interpreting and evaluating the solutions (C5).

Addressing society's problems in an informed manner (C6).

Understanding the concept of the common good and who defines it (C7.)

Participating in the social issue and practicing (C8).

Group Papers (Py). The group papers included:

P1: "Traffic Control System for the Twenty-first Century"

P2: "Reorganizing Los Angeles: A Transportation Plan for Los Angeles to be Re-Routed"

P3: "Pollution"

P4: "Los Angeles Integrated"

Figure 1 shows the grading scale used for the papers: 4 points = full task; 3 points= ¾ task; 2 points= ½ task and 1 point=1/4 task; and 0 points = no task. Two panel members read each paper.

Chekuri Fig. 1

When reading a paper, based on the meaning, each statement was categorized into one of the nine criteria (C1–C9.) Table 1 shows the frequency of each criterion in each paper.

Chekuri Table 1

Analysis of the Papers

Each group used knowledge from nontraditional sources. The groups covered three to five knowledge domains but no group covered all six areas. There is plenty of evidence that they analyzed, synthesized, and evaluated their solutions. All the groups presented inter- and intrarelations. The groups addressed societal problems in an informed manner with a focus on the common good. None of the groups indicated they were actively participating and practicing in the traffic-related issues. An analysis of the papers is presented below.

Paper P1: Traffic Control System for the Twenty-first Century. This paper used knowledge from four areas (psychology, communication, science, and the information the traffic engineer presented.) The paper discussed the communication to the traffic signals (macro), automation of the automobiles (micro), and their impact on pollution and psychological behavior of drivers. It suggested using smart/hybrid cars resulting in less pollution. It did not connect the issue to other areas discussed in the course. The effect of automation and traffic signals on the psychological behavior (intra­relation) of drivers was discussed. The paper also illuminated relations between the components involved in traffic-signal communication and automation (interrelations). The paper dissected the topics (traffic signals and automation) into small parts and illustrated the connections between those parts. Ultimately new ideas were generated and their benefits were discussed. The paper addressed one of the current societal issues (traffic) in an informed manner, and the common benefit of implementing the ideas was discussed.

Paper P2: Reorganizing Los Angeles: A Transportation Plan for Los Angeles to be Re-Routed. The paper discussed many areas affected by traffic flow but was less clear in explaining connections to the different disciplines presented in the course. The group realized the complexity of traffic issues and presented relationships between urban planning, psychology, knowledge from nontraditional sources, and global warming. Data was presented but not analyzed. Traffic communications were not discussed in the paper. The paper focused on the impact of urban planning, large mass-transit systems, stackable concept cars, and alternative energy sources. Psychological behavior, global warming, and the benefits to the individual and to society were discussed. Inter- and intr­arelations were explicitly presented. For this purpose the information was broken into several parts, and all parts were synthesized into a group of suggestions. The benefits of these suggestions to society and to individuals were discussed (evaluating solution). The roles of government and public and private agencies were also discussed.

Paper P3:Pollution. The paper focused only on the pollution component of traffic. It used knowledge from three areas (science, psychology, and experiential knowledge.) The paper discussed general pollution, pollution inside the home, office, and schools, the types of gasses automobiles emit, and the emission of gasses based on fuel and type of vehicle. Statistical data was collected from various sources (from the information the traffic engineer presented in class and classwork.) The effect of pollution on the human body and the psychological effects were discussed. The paper examined the topics (pollution, the human body, and psychology) in small parts and examined the connections between those parts. Finally, new ideas were generated. The paper recommended smart cars to cut down emissions. The benefits of the new ideas were not fully discussed. Pollution was treated as a societal problem and was discussed in an informed manner.

Paper P4. Los Angeles Integrated. This paper looked at traffic as an urban landscaping and infrastructure issue. The solution to traffic issues involved preparing an efficient urban plan and reworking the infrastructure around the urban plan. In the interest of efficiency, the paper proposed development along freeways, with homes built near business complexes. The proposal for infrastructure development was to create flexible freeways. More lanes would be open during peak hours for travel in one direction and the number of available lanes would change during the off-peak hours. Furthermore, lanes would be reallocated for different usage, such as public transit, carpool lanes, single-person lanes, and freight-transportation lanes. The paper presented a step-by-step analysis of urban infrastructure and proposed a general solution, followed by discussion. Additional topics included the density of traffic flow using the flow equation, presented with mathematical modeling. In order to change the attitudes and behaviors of citizens toward the use the public-transit systems, classical conditioning and other psychological methods were suggested. Statistics regarding population growth, the average number of commuters, and so on (given by the traffic engineer) were also used in the argument. The paper incorporated urban planning, mathematical modeling, physics, experiential knowledge, and psychology. The traffic issue was addressed in an informed manner with an emphasis on the common good.

Faculty graded final papers based on the following criteria:

How well the proposed solution was explained

How well class lecture and reading material was utilized to argue for the appropriateness of the proposed solution.

How well the five areas of investigation were synthesized in the proposed solution.

Table 2 shows the scores the subject faculty awarded for each paper.

Chekuri Table 2

Analysis of the SALG Results

The SALG had three components "Currently I feel I know," "Currently I feel I can," and "Currently I am interested in." These three components could be used to assess student's knowledge, confidence, attitude change and predisposition.

Transdisciplinary Skills and Confidence

Students' confidence in identifying the components in a complex issue such as traffic and in recognizing an issue as complex increased by about 67 percent. Furthermore, the results to the question "How can psychology assist in understanding the complex and interactive nature of the world?" showed a 64 percent increase, indicating that many students in the beginning of the class did not consider psychology as a contributing factor in understanding certain issues in traffic, but they realized its contribution by the end of the course. There was a 64 percent increase in realizing the need for collaboration to work on complex issues, but students' confidence in collaboration increased by only 20 percent. The confidence in analyzing a complex issue is increased by 8.8 percent. There was 40 percent increase in examining the traffic issue in a broader context (Question 3.3).

There was an 84 percent increase in the predisposition to reading traffic-related articles. Their confidence in understanding traffic-related articles raised by 43 percent. Their confidence in discussing the subject of traffic with friends and relatives increased by 38 percent, while their active involvement and acquiring jobs in the traffic related fields is poor (questions 3.4 and 3.5.) SALG survey contained questions related to Knowledge, Confidence,and Predisposition on skills and traffic issues. Table 3 shows percentage increase and Q x.x shows the corresponding question number in the SALG survey.

Chekuri Table 3

Statistical Analysis

A statistical analysis of the SALG surveys indicated that some specific learning gains were made. The greatest perceived learning gains are seen in questions 1.3, 3.2 and 3.3. In question 1.3, students apparently had not considered the psychology of traffic prior to the class. This stands to reason, as most of the students had no requirement to take a psychology course in the architecture general education program. The large percentage increase in response to question 3.2, indicating high student interest in traffic articles following the course, may not have been entirely due to the course content. It had additional and compelling relevance due to gas prices increasing significantly during the semester.

Chekuri Table 4

A hypothesis test was performed on this data in an effort to determine whether the learning gains apparent in these responses were significant. For this we needed to determine which hypothesis test was appropriate. The "before" and "after" nature of the survey gave data in the form of paired samples. What was less clear was whether the Likert scale format used in the SALG instrument represented ordinal or interval data. We accepted the convention that considers the data to be ordinal. We also have a small sample of eight participants and do not know whether the sample comes from a normal distribution. For this situation, the Wilcoxon signed-rank test is appropriate. The Wilcoxon test has no requirement for a normal distribution but requires the data have a symmetric distribution. Looking at the aggregate data, we see the distribution of our responses in about half the cases is approximately symmetric. As is common in our small class of eight, there are many response distributions that are not symmetric at all. We will take note of this.

With the decision made on the appropriate test, we state the null hypothesis and alternative hypotheses.

H0: μPre= μPost  ,

the median responses do not differ in the pre- and post-SALG surveys.

HA: μPre≠ μPost,

the median responses differ in the pre- and post-SALG surveys. This is a two-tailed test. The data is entered into the SPSS program, and the Wilcoxon test performed. The SPSS output is posted in the Appendix. Those results pertaining to the acceptance or rejection of the null hypothesis are given under the title "Test Statistics" and the subheading "Asymp. Sig." The significance levels given by SPSS show that we reject the null hypothesis for all survey questions but 1.4, 2.2, 2.5, 2.6, and 3.5.

Data in 1.4, 2.2, 2.5, 2.6, 3.5 are among the nonsymmetric responses so we cannot rely on the test. Ultimately, with only eight students, this test is only valuable as an outline on how to proceed with future classes with greater enrollment. If classes of this type continue to be small, the data will continue to be less than conclusive, but a collection of the data from several sections of the same course could yield helpful results.


The transdisciplinary group came up with a general solution in three parts: urban planning, infrastructure, and education.

Chekuri Figure 2

Urban Planning. The planning part was similar to the "garden city of to-morrow" (Howard 1965, 51). The purpose of Howard's plan was to sustain "a healthy, natural, and economic combination of town and country life" through a balance of work and leisure. The plan contained cluster of towns as shown in Figure 3.

Chekuri Figure 3

A town was to be built in an estate with a park at the center of the estate as in Figure 4.

Chekuri Figure 4

Residences, businesses, and public buildings were to be in the park. Residences would be constructed for people of all the income brackets. The neighborhoods would be mixed, with the well-to-do and not so well-to-do living near one another. Factories and warehouses were to be built around the outer ring of the town with a circular railway lane in front of the factories and warehouses. There would be vegetable and flower gardens, wooded areas, and green parks throughout the urban area. An agricultural estate should be built around the warehouses. A wide glass arcade or crystal palace were to be built around the central park, as shown in Figure 5. This building was to be a favorite resort for people in wet weather. Six such towns were to be connected (see Figure 3). Six boulevards would connect these towns (Santa Monica, Culver City, Down Town, Long Beach, Valencia, Ventura, and Glendale) and would pass through the central part of the city.

Chekuri Figure 5

Infrastructure. Highway planning, traffic signals, traffic flow, traffic signage, speed limits, automation, economics, energy considerations, and so on were discussed here.

The automation of traffic would have several advantages, including smooth traffic flow. The traffic control system (TCS) would have three parts — a central computing facility (CCF), substations (SS), and vehicles — each one installed with transponders that would have a unique identification number (TIN), as shown in Figure 6.

Chekuri Figure 6

The CCF would have a master control and computing facility. This unit communicates with SS. CCF would make decisions based on the information received from SS and would send those decisions to SS. The SS would receive the information from vehicles and send it to CCF, would receive the decisions from CCF and relay those to the vehicles. The city and county to be served by TCS would be divided into predefined sectors. The sizes of these sectors would depend upon the capacity of TCS to be installed as well as the number of vehicles on the roadways. Substations would be located in the service area such that each vehicle on any roadway would have a line of sight to three or more of the substations in the area as shown in Figure 7.

Chekuri Figure 7a Chekuri Figure 7b

For safe driving, distance between subsequent vehicles should be computed using

xf = s + x1 – NL – x0

s = vδ + + NL + x0       ,


x0 =

would be the leading vehicle breaking distance and

xof    δ = +

would be the following vehicle breaking distance; v would be the initial speed of the two vehicles; dl would be the deceleration of the leading vehicle; df would be the deceleration of the following vehicle; d would be the reaction of the following vehicle; x0 would be the safe margin distance after stop; L would be the length of the following vehicle; and N would be the number of vehicles if there were more than two vehicles. All the vehicles would be moving with the same initial velocity.

A flexible freeway utilization system can be used for drivers depending on the time of the day. Lanes should be reallocated for different usage such as public transit, carpool, single-person vehicle, and freight transportation. The total lanes dedicated for the different modes of transportation should also vary throughout the day. Metro-rail lane should be built along each highway. In most cases, the rail lane should be built in place of the current divider and number one lanes of the highway

Stackable fuel efficient vehicles that run on solar and wind power can be used. The vehicles could be similar to the ones shown in Figure 8. Bike lanes can be developed on every major street for local mobility.

Chekuri Figure 8

Education. Drivers should be required to take a course to cultivate good driving habits. The course should include topics on choosing better tires based on the type of vehicle; driving safely during wet and dry conditions, especially on curving roads; making the right decision when passing other vehicles; and psychologically handling road rage situations, such as when another driver pulls a gun or shows a middle figure, etc.

When driving on curved roads, the outer tires experience more force than the inner tires. To avoid a rollover, the tires should be chosen so that the traction (μ ) will satisfy the following equation:

≤ μ

where t is the distance between the tires on the same axle and h is the height of the vehicle's center of gravity.

The speed on such curved path should be

where R is the radius of the curved path and g is the acceleration due to gravity. Uneven distribution of the load in an SUV can also cause a change in the normal (N) force on the inner and outer tires. See Figure 9.

Chekuri Figure 9

As a result the SUV can roll over. An even distribution of the load is recommended. Traction would also decrease due to the softening of the rubber by the heat. The driver should take this into account when driving at higher speeds. When making a turn, the inner rear tire "cuts in" more than the inner front tire (by at least 1˝). Drivers should leave enough space. Threaded tires would offer better traction in all the seasons. For normal driving the traction μ ≈ .07.

When passing a vehicle in front, drivers should make sure the oncoming vehicle is at a great enough distance from the their vehicle, as shown in Figure 10. The velocity of vehicle 1 relative vehicle 3 is

v13= v3+ v1   .

Chekuri Figure 10

The velocity of vehicle 1 relative vehicle 2 is:

v12 = v – v1   .

s21 = v12 t and s31 = v13 t.

Road rage is a popular term to identify acts of aggressive driving on the nation's roads. Aggressive driving includes behaviors such as passing on the shoulder, not yielding to merging traffic, speeding, and making rude gestures or shouting. (Interestingly, Los Angeles drivers are much less likely to describe these behaviors as aggressive compared to drivers nationally.) Psychologically, the path to aggression begins with frustration, which often leads to anger. When angry acts are repeated or returned by other drivers, aggression escalates, and acts of road rage happen. But it is not be the case with everyone. High-anger drivers are more vulnerable. For many drivers, their cars are an extension of the self. Aggressive acts directed at their car are thus directed at the driver and at his or her self-esteem. Environmental factors, such as noise levels, heat, loud music, air pollution, and congestion, are additional stressors, elevating the potential for aggressive driving. Though the incidence of psychopathology in those who express road rage was somewhat higher than in the general population, aggressive driving is generally not the result of a recognized disorder. Instead, it is derived from intense responses to incorrect beliefs that affect self-esteem. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can focus on those incorrect beliefs, challenge them, and show drivers how to respond in a more realistic and adaptive way to stressful situations. In the case of aggressive driving, incorrect beliefs might include:

Distortions of other drivers' motivations: "He cut me off on purpose!"

Unrealistic goals: "I need to get to work at least five minutes faster than yesterday."

Unrealistic roles: "It's my job to punish that driver who passed on the right."

Once these beliefs are identified, the driver can be taught to recognize antecedents and their consequences. For example, if allowing only thirty minutes to get to work is an unrealistic goal, the driver needs to allow forty minutes instead. Finally, relaxation therapy (RT) should also be included in attempts to reduce road rage (Figure 11). In RT, drivers learn to respond to the combative actions of other drivers by relaxing, rather than escalating the battle.

Chekuri Figure 11

Results and Conclusions

A course "Traffic Issues in Los Angeles" was offered in spring 2008 at Woodbury University to prepare students on transdisciplinary approach to complex problems. The material used in the course is available in the Traffic folder on the university website. The members involved in the course were four faculty members (from mathematics, physics, psychology, and architecture), a research engineer in deep communications, a traffic engineer from the city of Burbank public works department, and ten students. The students had the required knowledge in mathematics, science, and psychology and the required skills in public speaking and writing. The faculty and the professional helped students analyze the traffic issue, apply the knowledge gained from the courses to this issue, and generate a general solution in a transdisciplinary way. The general solution to the traffic issues in Los Angeles have three components: urban planning, infrastructure and education.

The SALG results indicate that there was a general increase in the transdisciplinary skills and the confidence to adapt the approach. Students' general confidence in recognizing a complex issue and identifying its components increased by about 67 percent. Students had a 64 percent increase in realizing the need for collaboration to work on complex issues, but their confidence in collaborating increased by only 20 percent. Their confidence in analyzing a complex issue is increased by about 9 percent. There was a 40 percent increase in understanding traffic issues in a broader context. The results further indicated that the students' predisposition toward reading traffic-related articles increased by 84 percent, and their confidence in understanding such articles increased by 43 percent. Student confidence in discussing the subject of traffic with friends and relatives had increased by 38 percent. However the students' active involvement and acquiring jobs in traffic-related fields was poor.

Analysis of students' final papers showed that the students approached the problem in a transdisciplinary way but used only three to five knowledge domains. They analyzed, synthesized, and evaluated evidence to determine a solution to the problem. All the groups presented inter- and intrarelationships related to the traffic issue. Group one used knowledge from nontraditional sources and collaborated with both the engineers. Group two used knowledge from nontraditional sources and collaborated with the traffic engineer. Groups three and four used knowledge from nontraditional sources but did not collaborate with the other groups. All the groups addressed societal problems in an informed manner with an understanding of the common good. Group interaction was not measured systematically.

Improvements we hope for the next time we teach the course:

Measure group interactions,

Ensure students incorporate all the domains of knowledge in their problem-solving, and

Begin with fewer domains of knowledge to ensure better manageability and to have students spend more time in synthesis and reflection.

About the Authors

Marty Tippens has been teaching mathematics for fifteen years and presently coordinates the Math Department at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. He received his masters in applied mathematics at California State, Northridge. He has presented at SENCER conferences in Chicago, Maine, and California on the application of civic issues to mathematics courses. He was also part of a team taught course addressing Los Angeles traffic from a transdisciplinary approach and presented with members of that team at the 2008 summer institute in Santa Rosa and at Woodbury's Fall 2010 SENCER symposium.

Zelda Gilbertis a professor of psychology at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. She received her bachelor's degree from Chatham College, her master's in clinical psychology from West Virginia University, and her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Kentucky. She also did post-doctoral study at UCLA in social psychology. She has worked in private practice but for most of her professional life has focused on teaching in areas such as Introduction to psychology, abnormal psychology, psychobiology, and statistics. She has worked on implementing the SENCER model in courses on addiction and on traffic issues in Southern California and has presented on both these at SENCER summer institutes.

Anil Kantak is currently an adjunct professor of mathematics and physics/astronomy at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. For more than thirty-five years, he has taught graduate and undergraduate telecommunications engineering, mathematics, physics, and other courses at universities such as University of Southern California, University of California at Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and University of Washington, Washington D.C., West Coast University, and so on. He received his master's and doctorate in telecommunications engineering from the University of Southern California. He worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA) for thirty years in satellite communications for the deep space satellites and retired as a senior telecommunications systems engineer in 2011. He has published more than thirty-five papers in various technical journals such as the IEEE and authored five books in the area of telecommunications engineering.

Nageswar Rao Chekuri, received one of his masters in physics from Simon Fraser University in 1989 and doctorate in science education from the University of Cincinnati in 1996. He is a professor of physics and served as the chair. In the past he worked on solitons and fractional spins in the gauged o (3) non-liner sigma models with publications. His current research interests include application of physics principles to social and civic issues, learning theories, student learning and epistemologies, and transdisciplinary instructional approaches. He regularly presents papers and attends professional conferences.

Ken Johnsonis the assistant public works director and traffic engineer for the Burbank, California, Public Works Department.


The authors would like to thank Dr. David Rosen, the Vice President of the Academic Affairs, for his support and encouragement.


Kaufman, A., D.M. Moss, and T.A. Osborn. 2003. Beyond the Boundaries: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Learning and Teaching. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Howard, E. 1965. Garden Cities of To-morrow. Edited by F.J. Osborn; with an introductory essay by Lewis Mumford. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (accessed December 8, 2011). (To open the traffic site copy and paste the link. Open Traffic, Open the folder,

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