Serving Our Communities
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The Serving Our Communities Blog
The blog below showcases the ways in which geoscience educators are serving their communities - local, regional, state, national and international - through their own teaching, research and service, or by engaging their students in these areas. We invite geoscience educators of all types to contribute their stories that the rest of us my be inspired and learn from you. You must be an NAGT member to post.Help
I honestly can't remember who entrained me into this controversy. But about a year ago, I found myself at a hearing of the Board of Selectmen of my new town, Acton, Massachusetts. This whole New England form of government, with the Board of Selectman, and Town Meeting, and other vestiges left over from the Puritans, was a mystery to me. Gradually, I came to understand the controversy of the moment. A neighboring town, Concord, was seeking to build a new water treatment plant that would allow them to greatly expand their public water withdrawals from Nagog Pond, a small reservoir that straddles the town line of Acton and Littleton. An arcane 1884 law gave Concord, Acton, and Littleton rights to withdraw water from this pond, but only Concord has exercised this right to date. The treatment plant is in Acton and in a residential area, so they needed a special building permit, and thus the series of hearings before the Acton Board of Selectmen. More
In class, my students work with community experts to explore soil and water quality. They analyze the impacts of human activities on the surface of the earth. This includes exploring soil nutrients and contaminants like lead and analyzing stream chemistry. Our watershed is one of the top 10 most nutrient polluted of the 800 sub-watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. Like Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico, C.J. Brown, regularly becomes choked with algae. Two of the last five summers, conditions turned toxic. This shut down swimming at the beach. This hurt our local economy and took away the only free place to swim. This is also heartbreaking. More
Students engaged in geoscience-related service learning at Savannah State welcome the opportunity to put what they have learned in their respective disciplines to action for the resolution of coastal hazards issues. The wide range of issues includes community communications for the sake of safety, awareness, and recovery in the event of a disaster (natural or anthropogenic). It also includes educating and taking action to improve the condition of (fresh) food deserts in neighboring areas. By including students that are trained in a range of disciplines (homeland security and emergency management, engineering, transportation, mass communications, education, environmental sciences, etc.), all at one discussion table, we are able to address issues in coastal hazards from scientific, social, economic, and numerous other angles.
I have had the opportunity to tour a flood disaster area with the governor and local officials, hang out on the floor of the state House and Senate during session, and have dinner (twice) with a U.S. Senator. Each of these opportunities has allowed me to share the perspective of a geoscientist with the people who make decisions on our behalf and speak to specific bills and policies that impact education and the geosciences. These opportunities (and more) are the fruit of being active in my local community and getting to know the local leaders when I wasn't asking for anything but rather offering my assistance in areas well beyond geology. More
This year marks the 20th "anniversary" for a unique and mutually fruitful partnership between the environmental employer community in SW Florida and the (now) School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. I put "anniversary" in quotes because cooperation between the USF Geology faculty and local employers was certainly occurring before this year. What happened in 1997 was the formal establishment of the USF Geology Alumni Society, which has since become both mechanism for regular contact between Geoscience faculty and local employers, some (not all!) of whom are USF Geology alumni; and an active partner to our Geology program, in the delivery of key pieces of both our graduate and undergraduate degree curricula. More
Strengthening the role of the geosciences in policy development is challenging work. It's often time consuming, resource sapping, and generally frustrating for earth scientists to advocate for science policy, especially at the federal level. And even then, we can't do it alone. We need our undergraduates - majors and nonmajors alike - to see the value of science in public decision making. Working with professional geoscience organizations as community partners in service-learning, students can learn to communicate the critical need for geoscience in policymaking. In the process, students become de facto advocates for data-driven policy and not just advocates for science funding, which can often be the simplistic message heard by nonscientists. More
Mining in America invokes passions pro and con. An embedded research project in a Mineralogy course provides students with first-hand experience to engage exploration, development and remediation of mineral resource deposits as a possible career path, and hosting mineral companies get access to state-of-the-art research results that can be used to inform their project operations. This instructional activity addresses national needs to develop mineral resources to sustain our economic health and national security, and to develop the workforce needed to support the mineral industries from discovery to environmental remediation.
This blog showcases the ways in which geoscience educators are serving their communities - local, regional, state, national and international - through their own teaching, research and service, or by engaging their students in these areas. We invite geoscience educators of all types to contribute their stories that the rest of us my be inspired and learn from you. To submit a post, please use the contribute form in the navigation at the left. You must be an NAGT member to post.