Supporting interdisciplinary teaching about the Earth with the InTeGrate website

  • Kristin O’Connell
  • Monica Z. Bruckner
  • Cathryn A. Manduca
  • David C. Gosselin


Increasing the number of undergraduate students that are ready to creatively, effectively, and ethically address today’s grand, Earth-related, societal challenges (NRC: National Academy Press 2001) is one of the central goals of the NSF-funded InTeGrate STEP Center. This cannot be done from a single disciplinary perspective, but requires a more holistic understanding of Earth systems in combination with expertise from disciplines that study social systems. It requires effective communication, understanding, and cooperation among Earth, marine, atmospheric, and climate scientists as well as political scientists, economists, engineers, humanists, and others. The InTeGrate website addresses the need for this more holistic approach by helping faculty in any discipline bridge silos and address Earth-related societal challenges with their students. The project website provides effective, tested, community-contributed strategies for incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives, example interdisciplinary teaching activities and course descriptions, and sections addressing teaching specific interdisciplinary topics and themes. It also reflects and addresses audiences at various scales within the InTeGrate community, including perspectives from faculty, college and university program chairs, and employers. The website contains advice and examples of a spectrum of ways to build connections between disciplines, from starting small with a guest speaker in a single course to a fully linking curriculum. Example teaching activities and course descriptions give concrete ideas of how various interdisciplinary teaching strategies play out in the classroom. Results and recommendations from workshop participants provide a way to jump into the middle of rich, interdisciplinary discussions, including environmental justice, risk and resilience, and system thinking.


Interdisciplinary teaching Grand challenge Engaged pedagogy 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristin O’Connell
    • 1
  • Monica Z. Bruckner
    • 1
  • Cathryn A. Manduca
    • 1
  • David C. Gosselin
    • 2
  1. 1.Science Education Resource Center (SERC), Carleton CollegeNorthfieldUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Studies Program, University of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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