200 Driving Climate Studies Curriculum Through a High Traffic Texas Common Course Numbering System Environment

Monday, 11 January 2016
Brett Cummins, Brookhaven College, Farmers Branch, TX

Handout (8.4 MB)

Course offerings within accredited and participating institutions in Texas are primarily limited by the Texas Common Course Numbering System. This study is being conducted to determine how to introduce and implement the American Meteorological Society's Climate Studies curriculum at Brookhaven College, a minority-serving institution in Texas. This instructor attended the 2015 AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project in Silver Spring, MD, to be further introduced to current data and research on climate studies and course offering and implementation. Our group enjoyed expert speakers from various realms of climate science. We took field trips to NASA and NOAA facilities, along with a look inside Howard University's Beltsville Center for Climate Observation. Detailed information regarding the AMS Climate Studies course highlighted the project with the intent of increasing climate science offerings to minority-serving institutions. Ideas were gathered on how to implement the course at local colleges and universities facing varying challenges of including more earth science curriculum, including face to face, hybrid, and online formats. Founded in 1978, Brookhaven College is one of the largest of the seven in the Dallas County Community College District in Texas. It is a minority-serving institution, although specific numbers on minorities taking earth science courses are not yet available as of this writing. The geology department, which offers earth science courses for majors and non-majors, has been active on campus since the college's inception. Enrollment varies by semester but ranges from 20-30 students on average per course, with seven courses offered. Upon my return to campus, I plan to share ideas gained from the Diversity Project with faculty members in the geology and other physical science departments. The challenge faced by Brookhaven is finding a code in the Texas Common Course Numbering System in which this Climate Studies course can be offered. Only a certain amount of course codes are offered to colleges for courses without further discussion on a statewide level. Currently, every code available to Brookhaven for earth science courses is in use. While this may take time, I will look into initiating that dialogue with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. I plan to find ways to integrate portions of the curriculum from the course into pre-existing courses in geology and the physical sciences. Upon being interviewed by the Sustainability Director at Brookhaven, the Project and my comments will be featured in the fall edition of the college's sustainability newsletter. I am proposing to present the Projects findings, mission, and takeaways at the college's Math and Science Academy this fall. This will be another method of introducing and advertising climate studies and climate change curriculum as a supplement to current curriculum. Another option that will be explored is to create a Continuing Education course that is not limited by the Texas Common Course Numbering System. The new course, possibly titled “Weather, Climate, and Sustainability,” including curriculum elements of all three, must meet Region 10 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. A written proposal will be drafted for the Region 10 committee. Finally, we look ahead to the spring and summer semesters with the possibility of making the climate studies curriculum the laboratory portion of the current meteorology (AMS Weather Studies) course; however, this part might face purchasing and licensing issues for students. Statistics on the overall campus regarding attendance and minorities taking earth science courses, once obtained, will be analyzed. Areas in which we are doing well will be observed, and areas that needed improvement or areas of opportunity will be targeted. It is our hope to increase the focus on climate studies in our department and increase the number of minority students with interest and participation in the earth sciences as a whole at Brookhaven College within the next two years.
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