The “Values and Responsibility in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science” curriculum (http://eese.msu.edu/) is a modular resource designed to be implemented by environmental science instructors who have no ethics training for the purpose of guiding students through an analytic examination of the values and policy dimensions of their environmental science context. With the support of the NSF (SBE-1338614, MSU; SBE-1338626, Oregon State University) and with guidance from a national survey of environmental science instructors (Hall, Troy E., et al. 2016), this dialogue-based curriculum enables students to reflect on values, policy, and responsibility in a way that is informed by case study work and appreciation for different disciplinary perspectives. At the heart of this curriculum is the Toolbox dialogue methodology – students are given the opportunity to develop their own dialogue structures via reflection on topics with ethical implications, e.g., expertise, risk, policy constraints, and non-human impacts.
Our curriculum provides two teaching modules designed to be incorporated into existing interdisciplinary environmental science graduate courses. The lessons, alongside the scientific curricula instructors are already teaching, are intended to prepare interdisciplinary environmental science graduate students for some of the ethical challenges they will face in their careers by emphasizing the importance of the accountability of researchers in professional sciences to both decision-makers and non-research communities. Based on contemporary educational theory, our curriculum is committed to the idea that students best learn conceptually challenging ethical content through structured peer dialogue and guided self-reflection. Our approach derives its dialogue-based workshop model for interdisciplinary environmental education from the NSF-supported Toolbox framework, which works to enhance communication in interdisciplinary research.
By the end of the module, students will be able to: