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Human Dimensions of Global Change

This project has developed ten teaching/learning modules through a collaborative process that involves module authors, participants in summer workshops, and project staff at Clark University. Designed for use in any introductory course that deals with human-environment relationships, the modules actively engage students in problem solving, challenge them to think critically, invite them to participate in the process of scientific inquiry, and involve them in cooperative learning. Each module consists of several units, each of which focuses on an aspect of the module's theme. The core of each unit is a variety of student activities that have been designed to be challenging but not baffling. The activities vary in type, in the time they require, in skill level assumed, and in the skills developed. They involve critical reading; data collection, assessment, interpretation, and analysis; map reading and interpretation; field trips; interviewing; role playing; and writing for particular audiences. Many activities link the student's own lives with processes of local, regional, and global change. Each unit comes with some background reading to introduce the topic.

By engaging students in active inquiry, the module activities build student understanding of scientific method and of the interaction between science and policy, e.g., (1) the importance of specifying the assumptions underlying a model or an analytical approach; (2) how values affect assumptions; (3) how geographers use maps and other models to represent and analyze human-environment relations; (4) how geographers evaluate evidence about human-environment interactions; (5) how problems often have no single or easy answer and therefore how policy decisions usually involve weighing different and often conflicting kinds of evidence.

The modules provide instructors with a broad array of specific ideas for involving students actively and collaboratively in learning about nature-society relationships; instructors can choose the activities that best suit their class size, students' abilities, and institutional settings. Some activities can be completed in one class session whereas others are out-of-class projects and may take longer. An instructor who uses an entire module will have material for roughly two weeks of classes. Participants in the summer workshops have played a key role in developing these modules. Coming from diverse institutional backgrounds and contributing their varied experiences and areas of expertise, these participants have broadened the range of materials and activities with the goal of making each module accessible to students and instructors in a great variety of educational settings. The modules have also benefited from the pedagogy experts and global change experts who have participated in each of the summer workshops.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE-9354651), and the modules are available from the Association of American Geographers. An order form is included with each module description, below. In addition, web versions of most modules can be accessed from the module descriptions. They follow the print materials as closely as possible, but do not include readings and graphics with electronic-format copyright restrictions.

THE ACTIVE LEARNING MODULES

 

Susan Hanson, Project Director
School of Geography
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477
Internet: CCG2@clarku.edu

 

Teaching About Global Climate Change

Teaching About Global Climate Change provides free, online professional development modules for geography and social studies teachers at middle and high school levels. The modules provide information and materials for teachers who are preparing to teach about global climate change.  

⇒ Learn more.

Quick Links to Teaching About Global Climate Change Online Modules

For Middle School Teachers: Antarctica focus

For High School Teachers: Issues focus