The School of Natural Resources & Environment’s (SNRE) and College of Literature, Science, & the Arts’ Program in the Environment (PitE) are adopting an approach to teaching graduate and undergraduate students that exposes them to case-based learning using digital multimedia materials. The goal is to connect students with scholars from humanities; the social, natural and biomedical sciences; engineering and landscape architecture by creating Michigan Sustainability Case models that link students, faculty and professionals from the field in exploring sustainability topics. A master case already created, titled “Wolf Wars: Should We Hunt Gray Wolves in Michigan?” provides podcasts, videos and other digital materials that explain the debate among groups pushing for a hunt, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Commission and groups that are opposed to the idea.
Many of the University of Michigan’s introductory or gateway courses have large enrollments, so writing has not been a major part of the learning experience in those classes. Yet, appropriately framed writing assignments can help students better learn the core content of these courses while also fostering critical thinking skills. Using technology that includes a peer review system and automatic text analysis, faculty members from the College of Literature, Science, & the Arts (LSA) and the College of Engineering, in conjunction with the Sweetland Writing Center, will be using M-Write II to integrate writing-to-learn pedagogies into five large introductory courses.
Finding answers to the environmental and public health issues we face today will take engagement from many different disciplines. For years, the University of Michigan Biological Station, located in northern Michigan on Douglas Lake, has provided student research experiences in biology, ecology and atmospheric/climate science. This project will work with multiple U-M units to develop courses that include a summer field placement at the Biological Station. These courses will engage students not only from biology, ecology, and climate science, but also from other environmental sciences, public health, engineering, urban planning, and art and design, as well as the humanities and social sciences. Courses will include field-based research and projects focused on solving environmental problems and sustaining healthy people and ecosystems. Emphasis will be on climate change impacts, the Great Lakes system, biodiversity protection and stressed ecosystems.