This STEP Center project is a collaboration between partners at Carleton College, Stanford University, North Carolina State University (NCSU), Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the University of New Orleans (UNO), Central Washington University (CWU), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), the University of Akron, Pasadena City College, the Incorporated Research Institutions of Seismology (IRIS), and the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE/CEDD). Additional collaborations are being made through the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), the American Geological Institute (AGI), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Geological Society of America (GSA), the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL), among others. It is estimated that 1400 faculty and 59 geoscience departments, and potentially half a million undergraduate students, will be affected by this Center's activity over the lifetime of the project.
Widespread geoscience literacy and a robust geoscience workforce are increasingly important for addressing grand societal challenges including resource issues (e.g. minerals, energy, water, food) and environmental issues (e.g. climate change, hazards, waste disposal, environmental degradation). The InTeGrate STEP Center is engaging a broad, interdisciplinary community in the development of materials and model programs that increase the geoscience literacy of undergraduate students, including the large majority that do not study geoscience, and also increase the number and diversity of students prepared to bring geoscience approaches into interdisciplinary teams confronting important societal challenges. Center activities are focused through two main strategies of piloting more effective undergraduate core curricula that serve both STEM and non-STEM students and improving pre-service teacher training. In developing more effective undergraduate curricula, attention is being given to both production of pedagogically appropriate teaching materials, demonstration of implementation programs, and professional development in their use for faculty.
Project-related, inter-institutional curriculum development teams are creating and testing materials for use in geoscience courses, interdisciplinary courses, and courses in non-STEM majors - such as business, economics, and education - that address other aspects of these grand challenges. A set of implementation programs is demonstrating departmental, institutional and multi-campus approaches to curriculum and program structures that enroll diverse students, address the preparation of the geoscience workforce, and integrate geoscience into general education and teacher preparation curricula, as well as into a variety of STEM, environmental, and social science majors. An integrated assessment program is measuring the impact of new course materials and programs on students' 1) geoscience literacy, including their understanding of the role of geoscience in addressing the grand challenges facing society, 2) ability to address interdisciplinary problems, and 3) understanding of the process of science.
A professional development program integrated with activities of the On the Cutting Edge and Building Strong Geoscience Departments programs, geoscience professional societies, and the National Council for Science and the Environment is supporting widespread adoption and adaptation of course materials and program structures. Program evaluation is assessing the impact of InTeGrate at the course, departmental and institutional levels, with a focus on understanding how the program is influencing changes in instruction and program design, and subsequently impacting enrollments and student learning in courses that incorporate the role of geoscience in solving societal grand challenges.
The Directorate for Education and Human Resources Division of Undergraduate Education and the Directorate for Geosciences Office of the Assistant Director are jointly funding this STEP Center project.