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Program Description

Our Transforming Learning in the Third Century Initiative ("Transforming Learning") program will bring new audiences to the Biological Station. They will come from fields and disciplines not typically represented at environmental field stations. Their presence will diversify the conversations and research/teaching agendas housed in our lakeside community. And participants will have the types of immersive experiences which we excel at providing, but which may not be the norm in their areas of study. This cross-fertilization is integral to preparing a new generation of broadly-informed and highly-effective environmental problem solvers.

Program Goals

We want to dramatically expand the breadth of our course portfolio. Historically, our curriculum has focused on biology, ecology and atmospheric-climate science. But we recognize that many fields beyond these are interested in and contributing to environmental problem solving.

Our new curriculum will include courses from law, physical sciences, engineering, humanities, public health, education, public health, and the social sciences that:

  • address "wicked problems" (i.e. complex social-environmental problems that span disciplines and lack clear solutions);
  • embed field-based science in the context of solving environmental problems and sustaining healthy human-natural systems;
  • are applicable and useful for non-scientists interested in climate change, the Great Lakes system, biodiversity protection, and stressed ecosystems;
  • model practices for communicating scientific findings and their implications to the public, the media, policy makers, and other key stakeholders.
  • may independently incorporate or feed into a Michigan Sustainability Case (produced through a related Third Century Transformation of Student Learning Grant).

Proposed Course Model

Our proposed course model combines academic-year coursework on the Ann Arbor campus (typically, but not necessarily, in Winter Term) followed by a 2- to 4-week field component based at UMBS after the end of the semester.

We also encourage alternative course models, any of which could operate concurrently with the core course model described above. Possibilities include:

  • New, credit-bearing short courses (1 to 4 weeks, either during May-June, mid-August to September, or during academic-year breaks);
  • Semester-long (Fall or Winter Term) interdisciplinary courses that would carry a full term of credits;
  • New courses, similar to those developed under our proposed core course model, but with UMBS-based field and main campus-based components “flipped.” Such courses would include a field component (scheduled for any time at UMBS), followed by Fall or Winter semester Ann Arbor campus component designed to organize, analyze and interpret data previously collected in the field.