Formal and informal education for sustainable development

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  • 1. Formal and Informal Education for Sustainable Development Dr. Mark A. McGinley Associate Professor Honors College and Department of Biological Sciences Texas Tech University Fulbright Visiting Scholar Institute of Biological Sciences University of Malaya mark.mcginley@ttu.edu
  • 2. Starting Assumptions Sustainable development is desirable goal Sustainable development requires making appropriate decisions and implementing appropriate policies
  • 3. To Make Wise Decisions We Need Knowledgeable experts Capable teachers Knowledgeable policy makers Knowledgeable citizens I don’t think that we have done a very good job of educating general public in the US.  (not sure about in Malaysia)
  • 4. To Achieve Sustainable Development Change how we educate students, teachers, scientists, policy makers, and the general public  Appreciation of the process of science  Basics of ecology  Environmental issues  Political and economic issues related to sustainability How Do We Do This????
  • 5. My Background Trained as an ecologist  Behavioral ecology of birds and mammals  Reproductive ecology of plants, reptiles, and mammals  Plant community ecology  Old fields in Minnesota  Sand shinnery oak community in West Texas
  • 6. My Background Been on the faculty at Texas Tech University for 20 years Recent scholarly focus on science education and environmental education Fulbright Visiting Scholar
  • 7. Population Ecology
  • 8. Population Ecology
  • 9. Human Population Growth
  • 10. Community Ecology
  • 11. Ecosystem Ecology
  • 12. Important Concepts Equilibrium  If you add and remove at the same rate then the number does not change over time. World is Complicated!  not easy to predict what is going to happen if we start to alter ecological systems Many ecological issues easy to solve from a biological perspective  Decisions complicated by economics and politics
  • 13. Education Formal Education  Education that takes place in traditional classroom settings  Generally occurs when young Informal Education  Education that takes place out of the classroom. Can occur throughout lifetime.  Museums, zoos, national parks  Mass media  Internet  ???
  • 14. What Am I Doing? Formal Education  Educating Elementary and Secondary Students  Improving curriculum  Malaysian Bat Education Adventure  Improving teachers  MS2 and Multidisciplinary Science  Educating University Students  Formal Courses at Texas Tech University  Ecology and Environmental Problems  Ecology Science Behind the Environment  Perspectives in Nature and the Environment  Tropical Marine Biology  Degree Programs at Texas Tech University  Organismal Biology, Ecology, and Evolution- Department of Biological Sciences  Natural History and Humanities- Honors College  Malaysian Ecology textbook Informal Education  Odyssey Expeditions  Encyclopedia of Earth
  • 15. Curriculum Development ForElementary Schools Data suggests that US science education is lagging behind. Science class is too often “a thin gruel of badly organized textbooks, worksheets, and memorization of science”.  Corcoran et al. 2009
  • 16. Problems With Current Methods ofTeaching Science Lessons focus more on facts than big themes  Focus on Important Themes Lessons unrelated to each other over time  Learning Progressions Lessons taught in too many different contexts  Single Context Students get no exposure to “real science”  at best try to “simulate science”  Situate Education in Authentic Research Environment  Students act as “cognitive apprentices”
  • 17. Malaysian Bat Education Adventure Learning progression developed by National Academy of Science  Evolution Embed learning in “common context”  Biology of Malaysian rainforest bats  Dr. Tigga Kingston (TTU) has studied bats in Krau Wildlife Reserve in Pahang for > 10 years  Bats are cool! Students act as “cognitive apprentices” with researchers in the field  Send data back via website on daily basis  Interact with students in real time via video-conferencing
  • 18. Malaysian Bat Education Adventure In 2009 we received a US $200,000 grant from Texas Tech University to conduct pilot project for 4th grade Just applied for > US $2 million grant to National Science Foundation to expand project from grades 4 – 8.
  • 19. Malaysian Bat Education Adventure This work requires interdisciplinary collaboration  Department of Biological Sciences  College of Education  College of Mass Communications  Professors, graduate students, undergraduate students, school administrators, assessment experts, teachers  http://www.ttu-mbea.org/
  • 20. Teacher Training Practicing Teachers Multidisciplinary Science Masters Degree  Degree for practicing high school teachers  Biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, education MS2  Degree for practicing middle school teachers  Focus on integrating mathematics and science in the middle school classroom  Funded by US $3 million grant from Greater Texas Foundation  http://www.ttumssquare.org/
  • 21. Formal Courses Texas Tech University Department of Biological Sciences  Ecology and Environmental Problems  Introduce basic concepts in ecology and examine current environmental issues to non-science students
  • 22. University Courses Honors College  Ecology: The Science Behind the Environment  Perspectives in Nature and the Environment
  • 23. Field CoursesTropical Marine Biology
  • 24. What Have I Learned From TeachingThese Courses? Students don’t have much knowledge of science, ecology, or environmental issues Almost all students will become interested if you can touch on a topic that interests them directly  International  National (USA)  State (Texas)  Local (Lubbock) Getting students in the field is useful
  • 25. Degree Programs Texas Tech University Department of Biological Sciences  B.S. Organismal Biology, Ecology, and Evolution (OBEE) Honors College  Natural History and Humanities (NHH)  Interdisciplinary program that combines science, literature, philosophy, and the arts to train students to communicate effectively about the environment  Train future informal environmental educators, environmental lawyers, etc.
  • 26. NHH Highly Interdisciplinary  Ecologist, Geologist, Writers, Artists, Photographers, Philosophers, Outdoor Adventure Experts
  • 27. Ecology Textbook Collaboration with Prof. Susan Lim, Institute of Biological Sciences, UM Most general ecology textbooks written in US or Europe and thus focus on western examples We plan to produce an on-line introductory ecology textbook that focuses on Malaysian examples
  • 28. Informal Education Odyssey Expeditions Summer Adventure Programs for teens in Caribbean (British Virgin Islands and Windward islands) Sailing, scuba, and marine biology Taught scuba and formal and informal marine biology programs
  • 29. Informal Science Education• Encyclopedia of Earth (EoE) – http://www.eoearth.org/ – Goal is to be the largest on-line source of information about the environment in the world. – All articles written by scholars, all articles undergo peer review.
  • 30. Typical EoE Article
  • 31. EoE Articles• Written by recognized experts in the field – Student Science Communication Project• Content Partners – Governmental organizations and NGOs that have agreed to let the EoE publish their information • WWF, IUCN, UNEP, Conservation International, many US governmental bodies, soon IPCC • Thus, we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel because there is already a lot of valuable information out there.
  • 32. EoE History and Stats• Launched in September 2006• 25,000 visits per day• 700,000 visits per month• Over 8.5 million visitors per year
  • 33. “Malaysia Collection” on EoE Develop a collection of articles about • Natural history of Malaysian organisms • Ecology of Malaysian organisms and ecosystems • Environmental issues in Malaysia
  • 34. Future Directions Scholarly Study of Informal Science Education  I think it is “interesting” that studying informal science education is considered to be more scholarly than doing informal science education. Long-term impacts of summer outdoor programs  Odyssey Expeditions EoE Blogs as sources of informal science education
  • 35. Sustainability Sustainable development requires long-term perspective Humans do not appear to be very good at taking the long-term perspective  Psychologically  Politically  Economically Sustainability Education needs to involve people with expertise in economics and politics  Collaborations between politicians, economists, scientists, and educators are extremely rare!!  How do we make them happen???
  • 36. Sustainability- Llano Estacado High Plains of West Texas