Daniel Kirchner and Brett Werner secure ACS funding to expand blended learning at Centre
Assistant Professor of Philosophy Daniel Kirchner (right) and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Brett Werner (above) are two of the many faculty members who have worked to establish Centre College’s environmental studies program; thanks to a recent Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Faculty Advancement grant, they will be further strengthening Centre’s environmental studies curriculum through a blended-learning initiative.
The two Centre faculty members are partnering with faculty from Southwestern University, Washington and Lee University and Furman University to identify, develop, collect, curate and post online a wide variety of original and existing electronic resources for an ACS digital library whose focus is environmental sustainability.
“The digital materials will cover topics like climate change and energy, environmental social justice, political economy, ecology and consumption, biodiversity and ecosystem services and food issues,” explains Werner. “Some online materials will be created and developed by the participating faculty members, while some content will be gleaned from current resources.”
Ultimately, the faculty team sees the digital library as eventually expanding beyond the partner institutions to serve other ACS institutions and beyond.
“This project will increase the capacity of ACS faculty in technology-enhanced teaching and demonstrate the power of developing shared educational materials,” Werner says.
Each institution will produce original videos of lectures and field studies, create podcasts, blogs and online databases, as well as scour the internet for the best existing digital materials, including websites, case studies, TED talks or other videos.
“Once our collection of materials is complete, these materials will be vetted by committee for excellence, accessibility and suitability,” Werner explains. “These resources can then be used to share information across ACS institutions through shared blogs, virtual guest speakers and webinars.”
ACS funding provides stipends for faculty to produce 20 to 30 minutes of content for the digital library in the form of a lecture or documentary that could be used in a blended-learning activity.
Importantly, creating a digital library that connects ACS schools in this way offers students interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental sustainability issues.
“I’m excited to incorporate blended learning into classroom experiences related to food, bridging multiple campuses throughout the ACS,” Werner says. “I appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with some great professors at other southern institutions.”
by Mariel Smith