Goals and General Description

Taking Advantage of New Opportunities for Environmental Sciences
The 2003 PKAL Assemblies
What Works - What Matters - What Lasts: The Roles and Responsibilities of Leaders in Undergraduate STEM

Hilton Portland and Executive Tower
September 19 - 21, 2003


Registration & Hotel Reservation Deadline: September 5, 2003

Preliminary information (as of July 14, 2003)

Project Kaleidoscope and the Council of Environmental Deans & Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment are collaborating in hosting an assembly of practitioners in undergraduate environmental education and research. Sessions will present lessons learned and promising practices from the work of faculty and administrators taking responsibility for shaping strong undergraduate Environmental Resources and Education (ERE) programs. This topic will be addressed from several perspectives:

  • the changing context and broader public policy issues, considering:

    • the increasing stresses on our biosphere caused by human action and inaction
    • the potential of new directions in science and technology to redress environmental problems, informed by the recently-published Complex Environmental Systems.... report of NSF's Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education (January 2003)
    • the need for citizens well-prepared to make responsible decisions affecting the environment in public and private arenas
    • the need for environmental practitioners well-equipped for the 21st century workforce.

  • the institutional context, considering:

    • the relationship between institution-wide goals and strategic plans and those for undergraduate ERE courses, programs and majors
    • approaches to organizing, supporting and funding interdisciplinary ERE programs
    • the roles and responsibilities of senior academic officers in nurturing strong ERE programs
    • a campus-wide integrated curricular/co-curricular focus on environmental issues
    • approaches to building, evaluating (tenuring and promoting), and sustaining a strong interdisciplinary cadre of ERE faculty
    • sustainable and green buildings that are laboratories for learning.

  • the curricular context, considering:

    • the role of ERE programs in general education programs
    • options for homes for ERE students– majors embedded in traditional disciplines, majors in new interdisciplinary programs, minors
    • options for theme-driven programs, i.e., problem-based, ethics-based, service-learning
    • the survey of perspectives on curriculum by the NSCE Council of Environmental Deans and Directors.

  • the responsibilities of ERE leaders in regard to:

    • setting and assessing goals for student learning in undergraduate ERE programs
    • keeping connected to professionals in the field and to emerging opportunities for students pursuing careers in environmental fields
    • integrating pedagogies that prepare students for the workplace, i.e., facility with GIS and other technologies
    • advocating within and beyond the campus for strong undergraduate ERE programs.

There are several goals for this PKAL/NCSE Assembly:

  • to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and materials resulting from the work of leaders in shaping undergraduate ERE programs, to advance and enhance the work of colleagues on campuses across the country
  • to nurture existing and emerging networks of individuals and institutions collaborating in establishing strong undergraduate ERE program
  • to lead toward a handbook on What Works In Building Strong & Sustainable Undergraduate Programs in Environmental Education and Research.

These goals will be pursued in a series of plenary sessions addressing the contextual and leadership issues outlined above, complemented by break-out sessions in which faculty and administrators examine specific programs, courses and classes that are having demonstrated success in attracting students to the study of environmental issues and motivating them to pursue careers in relevant fields. These sessions are designed to be of interest to institutional teams including faculty from a wide range of disciplines and their administrative colleagues. Beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 19, participants will work through the weekend in shaping an agenda for action that will provide a roadmap for their continued efforts in the months ahead.