On June 23-26th, UVM's Environmental Program and the University of Vermont hosted the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) 2011 Annual Meeting. This meeting had over 500 attendees, who teach at colleges and universities from across the U.S. and Canada. This four-day event included field trips around UVM and at Middlebury College.
I attended the second day of the AESS meeting on Friday, starting the morning as a volunteer and helping vendors set up in the Davis Center. There was a vibrant energy among the attendees, most professors, who were inspired by presentations from colleagues. The meeting had four time blocks with 9 to 11 sessions, and several presentations occuring during each session.
One session was on Franklin Pierce College's Monadnock Institute's "e-tour of the Rindge Campus Lands." This was an interdisciplinary project that incorprated mapping of the campus and region with information about the area. The find product was a hyperlinked Powerpoint presentation. The content developed from the environmental studies, archaelogy, environmental science, history, and writing courses, was integrated into the map. Content focused on research and projects conducted in the area as well as historical accounts in the region. The challenge for this group was the size of the file (40MB) and making the material accessible to students outside of their courses. A few participants including myself brought up resources and tools such as Google Earth and Vimeo that would help make their content accesible to a larger audience.
The other session I attended was on Complexity & Concept Maps with three professors from Bard College (Gautum Sethi), Lewis & Clark College (Jim Proctor), and Montana Stae University (Jennifer Bernstein). Concept mapping is a graphical tool for organizing and representing knowledge. The professors discussed how the benefits and challenges of using this tool with their students. It was no surprise that some students are receptive of this tool and others were resistant as concept mapping pushes individuals to explore issues extensively and zero into a particular focus of study. Resources on concept mapping can be found at: http://cmap.ihmc.us/