Published 7 May 2013
Education , Science
In an era of heightened competition for scarce research positions and funding, the mantra of modern academia—“publish or perish”—continues to intensify . Scientists are under increasing pressure to produce as many publications as possible in “high-impact” journals to raise their profile among peers and influence their discipline. Yet, in recent years, another measure of significance also has been on the rise—one that focuses on a scientist’s reach beyond their field and captures societal impact .
More than a decade ago, Jane Lubchenco (a marine ecologist who recently stepped down as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) codified the idea of a “new social contract for science” . She asserted that society expects two outcomes from its investment of public funds in science: “the production of the best possible science and the production of something useful.” Lubchenco challenged scientists to consider not only making their research relevant to today’s most pressing problems, but also to embrace their responsibility to share their findings. She urged them to invoke “the full power of the scientific enterprise in communicating existing and new understanding to the public and to policymakers, and in helping society move toward sustainability through a better understanding of the consequences of policy action—or inactions.”
Continue reading ‘COMPASS: navigating the rules of scientific engagement’
Published 19 March 2013
United Nations of Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) founding statements about environmental education (EE) in the 1970s positioned it as a multidisciplinary field of inquiry. When enacted as such, it challenges traditional ways of organising secondary school education by academic subject areas. Equally, according to UNESCO, EE requires various forms of integrated and project-based teaching and learning approaches. These can involve hands-on experimentation alongside the retrieval and critical analysis of information from diverse sources and perspectives, and with different qualities and statuses. Multidisciplinary and knowledge engagement challenges are key considerations for an EE curriculum designed to harness information and communication technologies (ICT) to support and enhance student learning, which also challenge traditional instructional priorities that for example are largely based on textbooks. This review summarises research that has sought to integrate ICT and digital tools in EE. A key finding is that while there is a rich variety of such tools and applications available, there is far less research on their fit with and implications for student learning. The review calls for further studies that will provide models of productive forms of teaching and learning that harness ICT resources, particularly in developing the goals and methodologies of EE in the twenty-first century.
Continue reading ‘ICT tools in environmental education: reviewing two newcomers to schools’
Published 11 May 2012
Population growth and social/technological developments have resulted in the buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and oceans to the extent that we now see changes in the earth’s climate and ocean chemistry. Ocean acidification is one consequence of these changes, and it is known with certainty that it will continue to increase as we emit more CO2 into the atmosphere. Ocean acidification is a global issue likely to impact marine organisms, food webs and ecosystems and to be most severely experienced by the people who depend on the goods and services the ocean provides at regional and local levels. However, research is in its infancy and the available data on biological impacts are complex (e.g., species-specific response). Educating future generations on the certainties and uncertainties of the emerging science of ocean acidification and its complex consequences for marine species and ecosystems can provide insights that will help assessing the need to mitigate and/or adapt to future global change. This article aims to present different educational approaches, the different material available and highlight the future challenges of ocean acidification education for both educators and marine biologists.
Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems: educational challenges and innovations’
Published 1 December 2010
As the carbon dioxide concentration in the air is increasing, the oceans are changing: they are getting warmer (global warming) and more acidic (ocean acidification). These threats are very likely to have substantial impacts on marine ecosystems and on terrestrial species that depend on the oceans (e.g. human beings). To prevent the most dramatic consequences of such changes to the climate, citizens need to take collective actions. In that respect, education is a key factor to increase our awareness and understanding of climate change. Within the educational project Inquiry-to-Insight (I2I) we have developed, implemented, and tested Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools addressing the climate change issue with high school students.
One such tool that we have developed is an open access virtual animation and laboratory on ocean acidification (OA). This tool allows students to improve their background knowledge of OA and to become virtual scientists, conducting and analysing research on the effect of ocean acidity on a key and well known marine organism: sea urchin. Our results from a pilot study in two high schools in Sweden and California indicate that the OA I2I activities in particular, and other I2I tools in general, increase students’ awareness and understanding of OA.
Continue reading ‘Virtual ocean acidification laboratory as an efficient educational tool to address climate change issues’