12th Symposium on Education


College and university Earth system science education in the 21st century (ESSE 21)

Donald R. Johnson, Univ. Space Research Assoc., Columbia, MD; and M. Ruzek

The NASA/USRA Cooperative University-based Program in Earth System Science Education (ESSE), initiated a decade ago through NASA support, has led in the creation of a nationwide collaborative effort to bring Earth system science into the undergraduate classroom. Forty-five ESSE institutions now offer over 120 Earth system courses each year, reaching thousands of students annually with interdisciplinary content. Systemic change in the offering of courses and content and the organizational infrastructure of colleges and universities emphasizing cross disciplinary curricula, programs, degrees and departments are at the heart of this effort. Building on this successful experience and collaborative infrastructure within and among colleges, universities and NASA partners, a new program called ESSE 21 has been approved for funding by NASA. Through expanded partnerships the Program seeks to further develop broadly based educational resources, including shared courses, electronic learning materials and degree programs that will extend Earth system science concepts in the undergraduate classroom and laboratory. These resources emphasizing fundamentals of Earth system science serve to advance the nationís broader agenda for improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics competency and are critical to extending and solidifying a knowledge based foundation for decision making in the future by both scientists and citizens.

ESSE 21 aims to solicit proposals from undergraduate institutions to create or adopt undergraduate and graduate level Earth system science content in courses, curricula and degree programs. The goal for all is to effect systemic change through developing Earth system science learning materials, courses, curricula, degree tracks or programs, and departments that are self-sustaining in the coming decades. Interdisciplinary college and university teams will be competitively selected through a peer-reviewed Call for Participation. ESSE 21 will offer an infrastructure to promote a robustly interactive community of educators and researchers that develops interdisciplinary Earth system science content utilizing NASA resources involving-global change data, models, visualizations and electronic media and networks. The ultimate aim of ESSE 21 is to expand and accelerate the nationís realization of sound, scientific interdisciplinary educational resources for informed learning and decision-making from the perspective of sustainability of the Earth as a system.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (608K)

Supplementary URL: http://esse21.usra.edu

Session 5, University Educational Initiatives: Continued
Tuesday, 11 February 2003, 3:30 PM-5:00 PM

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