Dr. Seth developed, implemented and assessed an upper division honors (Advanced Physical Geography) course focused on climate science with an outreach component of community education working with town Energy/Climate Task Forces in Connecticut. The course is a seminar where we read primary literature dating back to the early scientific research related to climate change (mid-1800’s) and working chronologically through classic papers to present day.
The SL activities were performed in partnership with the Town of Tolland and its Energy Task Force and were structured around the science content of the readings. The students read about and implemented a survey to evaluate critical aspects of basic climate science knowledge among Tolland Residents. The results of the survey were then used to put together a presentation based on the science, and an interactive discussion was led by the students at the Tolland Library in November.
This community engagement offered numerous benefits to the students, and performed a valuable service to the Town of Tolland. The students are very clear that the engagement outside of class added an important source of motivation and interest for them. And I am now convinced that the benefits are worth the extra effort required, and would like to be able to continue to implement it this way.
I have led this course for three years prior to then, and have seen a remarkable increase in the enthusiasm and commitment of the students (and myself as well) as we incorporated a service learning component to the course this semester.
I was fortunate to have the support of the Service Learning Fellows program in developing the course, and I have support also from an NSF CAREER award to implement the course. It would have been impossible to do so without these additional mechanisms.
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