New York City is the primary focus of the 2013 Earth Institute’s Professional Development Program in Environmental Sustainability as well as the inspiration for the student research projects. Biodiversity, the driving currency for many ecological services, will be explored in natural and built landscapes around the city. In addition, firsthand experience in the local wetlands will form a basis for discussion of the urban freshwater cycle. The Institute will also provide exposure to alternative sources of energy as well some current research on the topic. These three vital components of the New York City ecosystem, biodiversity, water and energy, will be woven into each aspect of the course just as they are present in the everyday lives of its residents.Teachers and Graduate Students in Education. Sustainability and environmental issues are rapidly gaining prominence in schools. In order to keep curricula current, EICES faculty guide participants in developing new units that are integrated across multiple disciplines, appeal to students of different cultural backgrounds or learning styles, link to current standards (e.g., Scope and Sequence), and contain differentiated lessons for varying skill levels. Educators from all disciplines and age-levels have benefitted from the Institute, although the focus tends toward middle school science, math and technology.
The Earth Institute’s Professional Development Program in Environmental Sustainability inquiry- and project-based coursework is modeled so that participants first experience the process as students and then learn how to translate it to their own classrooms. For educators seeking certification requirements in science, the courses meet the New York (NY) State Department of Education’s certification requirements and can be applied to a Master’s degree or to the NY City “30 points above” Masters for salary increase.
EICES faculty members are experienced in bringing ecological research and concepts to students and professionals from all fields. With a growing need to understand conservation biology and sustainability, ecology and urban ecosystems, and research methods, students from various schools and disciplines gain insight into their own field through research, presentations and workshops. The Institute provides a rare opportunity to gain graduate credits through the guided development of an ecologically-based project chosen by each participant. Policy assessments, journalism articles, academic posters, and sustainable business plans are just a few of the notable options.
The Earth Institute’s Professional Development Program in Environmental Sustainability has previously examined issues facing ecosystems in the Tropical Caribbean Biome and the Lower Hudson River Valley & Highlands. Sample student research projects from these field sites include:
- Birds and Human Interaction in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic)
- Golf Course Fertilization and Sea Water Nutrient Levels
- Brook Trout Reintroduction in Black Rock Forest (New York)
- Domestic Honey Bees & Parasites: Effect of Temperature and Population Density
- Species Diversity in Natural versus Human-made Coastal Habitat
Sample curriculum projects developed collaboratively by students and inspired by their research and coursework include:
- Citizen Scientists: Population and Community Dynamics
- An Introduction to Inquiry for the Middle Grades
- Comparing Communities: An Ecological Assessment of your Neighborhood