Expanding the Classroom: Benefits of Field Classes for Interdisciplinary Courses.

Monday, 15 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Arthur Schwarzschild, University of Virginia Main Campus, Charlottesville, VA, United States
Ecological Research stations are often used to house field trips and short courses for science classes. These facilities, however, can also provide unique benefits when used for interdisciplinary courses and Professional Development programs not directly tied to field research. Located near the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, the University of Virginia’s Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center (ABCRC) serves as the field station for the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research Program (VCR-LTER). Along with hosting field trips and short course for subjects like Marine Biology, Aquatic Ecology and Coastal Geology, the ABCRC has recently hosted Professional Development programs for public school Art teachers and a Nature Writing class for college students. These interdisciplinary programs are part of the ABCRC’s participation in the Ecological Reflections Program (http://www.ecologicalreflections.com/) sponsored by The National Science Foundation and the LTER Network, with a goal of tying VCR-LTER data with the Humanities to increase appreciation of coastal environments and the ecosystem services they provide. Participants in these interdisciplinary programs are exposed to cutting edge field research and immersed (often quite literally) in coastal environments while they practice their art forms. The resulting paintings, drawings, nature essays and short stories demonstrate the impacts exposure to natural environments can have on program participants and how these experiences may shape their future works. Public exhibitions and readings allow these experiences to be shared with a larger audience.