Curriculum for the Bioregion:


An Inquiry into Teaching and Learning
about Environment, Community and Sustainability

Faculty and Staff Inquiry

Introduction

"Home is the only ground for hope. Humans once understood and are now remembering that security is found in acting responsibly at home in our neighborhoods, watersheds, and bioregions. Bioregions are complex systems where every being is connected to and interdependent with every other; bioregions are not defined by property lines, state or national boundaries, but by soil, climate, water, terrain, plants, animals, and human cultures and settlements." 1.

So, what is a bioregion? Some think of this bioregion as Cascadia, which includes all the watersheds that drain from the Rocky Mountains into the Pacific Ocean from Northern California to Southeast Alaska. It spans two countries and includes British Columbia, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and adjoining parts of Alaska, Montana, and California. Others define this bioregion more locally, as the coastal forest region west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains, or the Puget Sound basin. Regardless of how we define this bioregion, what is important is to learn about these places where we live.

Working with a steering committee drawn from campuses and community-based projects throughout the Puget Sound region, the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education is engaged in planning an initiative called "Curriculum for the Bioregion." We aim to better prepare college students, as well as ourselves, to live and be engaged in a world where the complex issues of environmental quality, healthy communities, and long-term sustainability are paramount.

Purpose of this inquiry

As we plan this "Curriculum for the Bioregion" initiative, we are listening to faculty, staff, and students on campuses throughout the Puget Sound region. We want to learn what faculty and staff members are doing now with respect to environmental study, community-based learning, and long-term sustainability. Your perspectives are crucial to our planning. We also want to know what you think is needed in the future. We hope this survey will stimulate your thinking, foster discussion, and provide us with advice and ideas about developing this initiative.

This is not a confidential survey because we want to begin a public conversation about teaching and learning both in and on behalf of this region. We would like to know who you are, because we aspire to build a community of practitioners whom we can call upon and whom can call upon us. If we should want to quote you at any point, we will write and ask for your permission. However, if you would like to take this survey anonymously, please do so by omitting your name.

If you have any questions about the "Curriculum for the Bioregion" Initiative, you can contact Jean MacGregor (tel. 360-867-6608 or macgjean@evergreen.edu). If you experience any problems as a result of your participation in this survey, you should contact Eddy Brown, Academic Dean, The Evergreen State College, L-2211, Olympia, WA 98505 (tel. 360-867-6972).

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1. These paragraphs were adapted from the introduction to the brochure announcing the "9th Continental Bioregional Congress" to be held July 9-17, 2005 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. For future information, contact biocongress2005@earthaven.org


1. Name
 

 

2. Title
 

3. Department
 

4. Institution
 

5. Today's date
 

6. E-mail (optional, if you would like to be sent a link to the report generated from this inquiry)
 

7. How many years experience do you have working in higher education?
  in my first decade
  in my second decade
  in my third decade or more

8. Is your appointment
  full-time
  part-time
  continuing contract/tenure track
  annual contract or visiting appointment

9. As you read the introductory paragraphs to this survey, what comes to mind as your bioregion? Choose one of these:
  All of Cascadia: the watersheds that drain into the Northern Pacific from Northern California to Southeast Alaska
  The coastal forest region west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains
  The Puget Sound basin: all the watersheds draining into the Puget Sound
  My local community and its surroundings
  Other (please specify)

10. What did this question bring up for you about identifying what you think is "your" bioregion? Feel free to comment if you like.

 


Teaching and Learning about and in the Bioregion


11. We want to learn what you are doing now with students, either in courses, internships, or practicums, student activities, or any other activities you're involved with. (Please don't be shy; we really want to find out who is doing what.)

Please provide the name of the course or program, and indicate the level of students involved (lower division, upper div., etc.) / Then, briefly describe, and note how much of the course focuses on study relating to the bioregion. If you are involved in multiple courses, please create a distinct paragraph for each.


12. Describe any projects you have undertaken in which your students are engaged in field- or community-based study in this region, in which the information gathered has a presence or impact in the region in terms of data assembled or reports shared with community/regional organizations, tribes, or agencies. Mention what the project is, and if appropriate, who the key regional community organizations or collaborators are.

Provide the Name of Project (or your working title) / and mention the key Community Partners. As with the previous question, create distinct paragraphs if you are working with multiple projects.


13. If your teaching engages students with particular issues facing this region, please mention the major ones that your students examine, starting first with the one in which you engage students in the most depth.

Course or project / Briefly describe

 

14. If your teaching engages students with the study of sustainability concepts and practices, and future studies or "futuring" activities, please describe.

Course or project / Briefly describe

 

15. What organizations or agencies in your surrounding communities or region are you involved with that support your teaching and work in the bioregion?

Organization or agency / How this organization or agency contributes to and/or supports your teaching/work


16. Based on the previous questions regarding your teaching, what percentage of your teaching practice is based on what you just described? (Check one)
  10% or less
  11-25%
  25-50%
  50-75%
  100%

17. What do you see your students either most excited about or most challenged by as they learn about this bioregion?
 

18. What challenges have you faced in teaching about this bioregion?
 

19. Have you received (or participated actively in) grants involving curriculum development or dissemination related to study in or of the bioregion? If so, describe briefly and include to whom the project was disseminated and when, and if the materials developed are available in print or on the web.
 

20. What would you like to do in addition to what you just described – that is, if resources and time were not a barrier? What would you like to teach or do working individually or with others? If you have a dream project or program in mind, describe it.
 

21. In addition to what you would like to do, what would you like to see happen at your institution with reference to bioregional study, community-based learning, or sustainability?
 

22. As you look to the future, what barriers or challenges come up as you consider these possibilities? For you and your colleagues? Your institution? What barriers does the institution impose? How about community-imposed barriers? Please describe.
 

23. Professional and personal development related to learning in the bioregion.

What would you like to learn more about with reference to teaching in this bioregion. (Consider content, teaching strategies, field or community-based projects). Check off what interests you on this list.

 
Some interest   Strong interest  
  mapping, spatial analysis and regional geography
  plants, animals, and biodiversity
  hydrology, watershed analysis, water resource protection
  history, languages, and cultures
  regional literature
  visual and performing arts
  environmental education and communications in this region
  natural resource planning and management (forests, fish)
  protection of natural areas, public recreation, and tourism
  agriculture and food systems
  social issues (literacy, poverty, crime, homelessness)
  energy use and conservation
  pollution and solid waste
    Some interest   Strong interest  
  environmental health
  land use, planning and transportation
  civic institutions, local and regional governance
  ethics and civic responsibility
  conflict resolution and participatory problem-solving
  industry, production, industrial ecology
  climate change effects in the region
  eco-design and the built environment
  justice issues (social, economic, environmental)
  sustainability concepts and practices in general
  the university campus as a bioregional resource for its surrounding communities
  sustainable practices in businesses and other organizations
  organizational management and leadership in both the public and private sector with a sustainability focus
  future studies
  Other: please describe:

24. Please add any further comments that you have about what you would like to discuss, work on, or reflect on with colleagues with reference to teaching and learning in the bioregion.
 


25 a. Faculty and staff interest

We would like your opinion as to the level of campus interest in different aspects of study in the bioregion. We realize there is overlap in some of the terms we use; still, we would like to know your sense of whether you think:

 
Faculty and staff interest
a tiny minority   a small but growing number   a significant number   not sure  
  Locating study in the bioregion through field- and community-based learning are important to...
  Service-learning (engaging with community partners to link service projects with students’ coursework) is important to...
  Civic learning (engaging students in what it means to participate in democratic processes through engagement and learning about public issues) is important to...
  Issues related to environmental, social and economic justice are important to...
  Sustainability concepts and practices are important to...

25. b. Student interest

We would like your opinion as to the level of campus interest in different aspects of study in the bioregion. We realize there is overlap in some of the terms we use; still, we would like to know your sense of whether you think:

  Student interest
a tiny minority   a small but growing number   a significant number   not sure  
  Locating study in the bioregion through field- and community-based learning are important to...
  Service-learning (engaging with community partners to link service projects with students’ coursework) is important to...
  Civic learning (engaging students in what it means to participate in democratic processes through engagement and learning about public issues) is important to...
  Issues related to environmental, social and economic justice are important to...
  Sustainability concepts and practices are important to...


26. If you have faculty or staff colleagues (either on campus or in the region) whom we should be sure to contact also about this project and this inquiry, please give us their names and institutions.

Name Institution


27. Please check here if you would like to receive future communications about the "Curriculum for the Bioregion" Initiative.
  Yes, please keep me informed of future activities.


28. Use this space for any additional comments you have on this survey or this topic.
 


Thank you for completing this survey!

You can stay apprised of the "Curriculum for the Bioregion" Initiative by visiting the website of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education at http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/