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Project-Based Course

Goals, objectives, and approaches in this interdisciplinary project-based course

[1] Identify a theme or focus area of interdisciplinary interest that relates to issues of global changes and sustainability. Start from the broad topic identified to focus in on an aspect that can be addressed by end of the semester.

[2] Break down the barriers and learn the language and approaches of our respective disciplines to explore a common question or challenge. Remember we are coming from quite diverse backgrounds: biology, engineering, geography, geology, mathematics, and urban planning.

[3] Learn the different perspectives and approaches of different stakeholders at the university, city, county, state levels to the common question or challenge. How does the public become engaged in this common question or challenge?

[4] After defining the common question or challenge that will be the focus of this class, lay out a strategy or plan to acquire or develop the four fundamental information levels for approaching a topic:

  • Level 1 products (fundamental baseline information) – Identify the existing literature, reports, publications, maps, modeling approaches, data files, and other data available; build an EndNote database to store these data products.
  • Level 2 products (synthesis information) – Identify the syntheses, previously prepared plans, model results, other synthetic information available, and the stakeholders for this issue. Are there surveys or other information to assess perspectives on this issue? Make sure that all of this information is also included in one form or another into the EndNote database.
  • Level 3 products (your proposed ideas or plans) – Identify and develop your plans or proposals to address the issue(s) to be focused upon. The strongest plans and written proposals are built upon the foundations of level 1 and level 2 products.
  • Level 4 products (your presentation) – What specifically is your proposed plan or desired outcome? Convincing or selling your idea to stakeholders is essential to the successful development of any plan or proposal. Who are your stakeholders? How do you convince stakeholders with diverse interests that your plan should be supported (and how)? As in the development of any successful idea or plan, your presentation is based on a solid foundation of level 1, level 2, and level 3 products. The message must be clear, succinct, and must define a path forward.

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