Organized Oral Session
Current social-environmental challenges require rethinking about how to teach ecology. Changes in how we engage students with concepts and practices will help more students recognize how ecology can be used to address environmental problems. The Four-Dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) framework, recently endorsed by ESA, provides an innovative starting point for designing lessons, courses and curricula that integrate the full scope of ecological science and its relevance to society. This framework was originally designed with traditional ecology major’s courses in mind. However non-majors are often an audience left out of ecological education considerations, even though they comprise the largest group of students. Challenges exist for teaching ecology to non-majors, but this also provides opportunities to rethink approaches and explore issues differently than in majors’ ecology courses.
In this session, we will explore approaches to effectively teaching ecology to non-major audiences in context of the 4DEE framework. The concept of an “ecology for all” provides a starting point for thinking about how to capture the attention of diverse student audiences and motivate them to care and reflect on the environmental implications of their actions. Speakers will address a variety of issues for teaching diverse non-majors audiences. A key question is, what is most important for non-majors to know about ecological science? Speakers will examine how to connect ecology to various non-science disciplines and to students’ lives, especially through the framework’s human-environment dimension. As limited time is often a constraint, we will address how to use the 4DEE framework to create short, effective lessons. We will also consider the importance of “hooks” for capturing students’ attention to think about nature and environmental issues through an ecological lens.
Overall, this session will help educators in diverse contexts reflect on how to teach ecology to non-majors, including lessons that may be applicable for teaching majors. No longer is it sufficient for ecologists to focus solely on training students to conduct ecological research; the ecological community must think more broadly about how to include all audiences to become ecologically literate stewards of the planet. Thus, more ecologists need to tackle the important task of teaching “ecology for all” by embracing opportunities to connect with non-majors in diverse and interdisciplinary courses. The session’s presenters will illustrate how the 4DEE framework can help instructors excite and engage students to link core concepts to their application in real life problem solving, including in their personal lives and careers.
Presenting Author: George Middendorf – Howard University
Presenting Author: Loren Byrne – Roger Williams University
Presenting Author: Sara Scanga – Utica University
Presenting Author: Erica Tietjen – Nevada State College
Presenting Author: Jon Honea, PhD – Emerson College
Co-author: Jon Honea, PhD – Emerson College
Co-author: Daryn Snijdewind – Emerson College
Co-author: Wyatt Oswald, PhD – Emerson College
Co-author: jaime Tanner, PhD – Emerson College
Presenting Author: Zakiya H. Leggett, PhD – North Carolina State University
Co-author: Porche' Spence – NCSU - Forestry and Env Resources