Based on that deep dive into the needs of society and our students, Unity College has launched an ambitious new project to redesign the early college experience to:

  • Honor learning wherever it happens, whether that is in a classroom, in the field solving real-world sustainability problems, or on the job.
  • Create immersive, intensive experiences with a flexible calendar that lets students who work hard complete a bachelor’s degree in less than 4 years.
  • Allow students to earn stackable credentials that represent relevant professional skills to employers.

There is much work to do! Follow the progress of the First Two Years project here to see how Unity College is taking a leadership role in creating a new college for the environmental century.

First Two Years

2019
December 15, 2019

TERRAIN update: December 9-13, 2019

December 9-13, 2019   Well, the TERRAIN testbed is complete! Congratulations to the students, staff, and instructional team who made this experience successful. Teaching fellow Emily Goldthwaite distributed a final anonymous survey to the TERRAIN students asking them to provide feedback on their experiences. In the coming weeks, we will synthesize survey and final assessment data in a testbed report. (Teaser: 71% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the TERRAIN experience helped them to learn to recognize and respect differences in others. 75% of the students agreed or strongly agreed that TERRAIN pushed them to try something outside of their comfort zone  . . . Stay tuned for the full report to learn more!). The report will also include suggestions for design considerations for the full launch of TERRAIN in fall 2020.   Ray Phinney, Zach Falcon, and I presented an overview of the quarter calendar during Community Meeting this week (Tuesday, 12.10) and answered students’ questions afterward. Ray also encouraged students to submit written questions (knowing that there would be insufficient time to address them all) and the Sustaining the Flagship team is responding to them in a comprehensive FAQ document that VPF Falcon will share.   We are moving ahead with an on-campus interview of a candidate for the Curriculum Designer position. This will take place in early January.   The faculty elected five members to serve on the ad hoc Faculty Workload Committee: Ellen Batchelder, Kate Coseo, Kathleen Dunckel, Aimee Phillippi, and Kevin Spigel. Pending final approval of the committee at Senior Staff next week, the committee will take up its charge in January.   CAPC completed a draft of revised catalog language describing the general education requirements and will share this with faculty in early January.   I will close this update with a final congratulations and thank you to everyone who helped make the TERRAIN testbed possible and who continues to support the work of bringing TERRAIN to a successful launch next fall.   Best wishes for a peaceful and rejuvenating holiday,   Jen       Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers) Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship Professor of Education Unity College Unity, Maine 04998 (412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred) (207) 509-7282 (office)   Office: Constable Hall 201      
December 6, 2019

TERRAIN update December 2-6, 2019

December 2-6, 2019

 

Like the rest of Flagship, the TERRAIN testbed is wrapping up for the term. Students are completing projects and final exams. They are also writing summative reflections about their learning experiences and providing feedback on an end-of-term survey designed by TERRAIN fellow Emily Goldthwaite. I look forward to working with the instructional team in the coming weeks to collate and summarize this data and discuss implications for design and implementation of expeditions in fall 2020.

 

I had planned to support a discussion of the quarter calendar during Community Meeting this week, but the weather had other plans. Given the high level of interest in the topic, I put together some slides and created a brief video to help people better understand what the quarter system will “look like” when fully implemented at Unity College. I encourage you to watch if you have questions and to share with anyone who is seeking more information.

 

Zach Falcon, Beth Driggs, and I interviewed two candidates for the Curriculum Designer position earlier this week and anticipate moving this search process to the next step soon. We are eager to bring our CD on board to work with faculty members (McKnight, Herboth, Crowley, Whittaker, and Kercsmar) who have agreed to reallocate some of their time next semester to complete the design of Year 1 expeditions and essential short courses.

 

I also had the opportunity to share a draft of the Faculty Workload Model with SALT during the November 25th meeting and have since revised it. We will discuss the revised model and draft a charge for the ad hoc Faculty Workload Committee during the upcoming SALT meeting (December 9th).

 

CAPC began work on revised Catalog language describing the general education requirements and will share a draft of this in ALT next week (Friday, 12.13).

 

Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

November 22, 2019

TERRAIN Update November 18-22, 2019

November 18-22, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

I am going to focus this week’s update on summarizing the experience of the second TERRAIN cohort’s trip up to Sky Lodge and use this as an opportunity to remind us of the broader goals of TERRAIN why they matter.

 

Aly McKnight, Tom Whittaker, Ellen Batchelder, and Emily Goldthwaite headed up to Sky Lodge with cohort 2 at 11:30 AM on Monday morning. Having learned from the experience of cohort 1, this group was fully packed the night before their planned departure and were able to respond quickly and pretty smoothly to a request to move up the departure time in order to arrive at Sky Lodge ahead of the predicted freezing rain. Life lesson: careful preparation enables one to make adjustments with minimal stress!

 

While up at Sky Lodge, the group deployed game cameras and completed several transects to gather data. They also participated in a role-play scenario in which student “game wardens” interviewed a “witness” and a “poacher” and gathered samples that they will prepare and analyze (for characteristic DNA fragments) when they return to campus. They engaged in various group challenge tasks. They also had some down time in which to learn a new skill (more knitting! painting!) or share an old one (guitar playing by the fire!).

 

 

 

 

 

Just before the TERRAIN group left Sky Lodge yesterday, team leader Aly McKnight sent me this e-mail:

 

Forgot to check in yesterday, sorry! Everything is still going well — we wrapped up the outdoor work this morning and everyone is currently chilling out in the lodge and uploading data. We’re all packed up, so … we’ll just do a massive debriefaganza after lunch and hit the road.

 

Yesterday was awesome — … Emily wrapped up the day’s activities by designing and running an “encouragement book” activity where we passed around empty books for people to write good things about each other in (everyone got their own) — it was a really heartwarming experience for all. There may have been some tears of gratitude as folks were reading their books later … 🙂

 

Thanks again for this experience! I’ve enjoyed virtually every second.

 

During the debrief, students (on their own) discussed how they experienced a variety of challenges throughout the term and have developed persistence and skills that allow them to push through these challenges and accomplish goals. Many students shared that they are proud of their personal achievements as well as their growth as a group. They also saw clear connections between learning how to work well in a group and their learning of specific concepts and academic skills.

 

We designed TERRAIN purposefully – to immerse students in authentic problem-solving contexts where they would need to draw on a variety of communication and interpersonal skills in order to experience success. We are seeing evidence that the design has had the intended effect.

 

This is a great opportunity to remind us all of the value of integrating social emotional learning opportunities (generally thought of as the purview of co-curricular experiences) throughout the academic curriculum. CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) is a leader in SEL research. They have shown that Social-Emotional skills (open-mindedness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion and agreeableness) are teachable and correlate with increased academic achievement. They have also shown that a lack of these skills correlates with “unfavorable” outcomes such as poor health, unemployment, and criminal behavior. While much of CASEL’s research has been in K-12 contexts, they and others have linked SE skills with success in college (see this piece in the The Atlantic for a summary and links to primary research). This is not surprising – we know that students who are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety are less able to engage in learning opportunities and less likely to persist in the face of challenge. So if we are serious about helping our students achieve the learning outcome we’ve identified for our academic programs, we must also be serious about helping them develop broader SE skills on which learning relies.

 

A final thought – as I work with my own students in Environmental Scenarios and Solutions, a junior- and senior- level course in which students learn and apply sustainability science frameworks to address complex problems – I am more convinced than ever that the investment we are making in helping our first- and second-year students build their capacity to persist and to collaborate will have enormous payoffs. The problems of sustainability we are asking our students to take on – that we are depending on them to take on – will require them to draw on far more than their knowledge of facts and ideas. They will need persistence, empathy, open-mindedness, and emotional stability to be effective change agents in a complex world.

 

As I write this, I watch the Maine woods blur by from the windows of a train … on my way to a Learning and the Brain conference in Boston. I am feeling grateful for the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of strategies to support learners over the weekend. And I am feeling grateful for the ways in which our colleagues and students have responded to the challenges TERRAIN has presented and for the promise that this program holds for preparing our students for success.

 

  

— Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

November 15, 2019

TERRAIN Update November 11-15, 2019

November 11-15, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

Cohort 1, led by Kate Coseo and Randy Colvin with support from TERRAIN Fellow Chelsea Becker, headed back up to Sky Lodge for the week. The group had a frenetic launch Monday morning, heading out three hours earlier than planned in order to beat the snow. Thanks to Dennis Picard and his team in Public Safety for helping to get the vans ready and to Zach Falcon and Ray Phinney for supporting the team with last-minute preparations. Also many thanks to Rachel Crater and her team at Sky Lodge for their hospitality – including getting an extra meal ready for the group’s early arrival and helping everyone to feel welcome and cared for during their stay.

While at Sky Lodge, the students drew on their GPS skills to deploy game cameras, and used their observational and identification skills to complete three transects, gathering data related to the presence of various animal species. They participated in a role play scenario about game poaching (which will be taken up again in the context of a gel electrophoresis laboratory exercise in Biology next week). And they attended a fireside talk about professional opportunities, requirements, and expectations in the Warden Service given by Mari Carellobigner, Fire Logistics Dispatcher for Acadia National Park, and Warden Tennie Coleman.

When not working, the students had opportunities to participate in games and crafts. I was able to join the group from Tuesday afternoon through lunch on Wednesday and thrilled to spend a little time Tuesday evening teaching a few students some basic knitting stitches. Also on Tuesday evening, Chelsea led a group of students in a Bob Ross painting session.

Sometimes students chose not to participate in any activities during break time because they just needed a little time to recharge …

Wednesday morning started with the students reflecting on their College Learning Effectiveness Inventory results and developing specific plans to strengthen their skills and/or adopt more productive strategies related to some of the variables measured by this instrument (e.g. Organization, Stress Management, etc.). Throughout the day, the students were outside gathering data for short periods of time (less than 1 hour at a stretch, due to the very low temperatures). Later in the afternoon, they participated in an Amazing Race activity led by Adam Williams and other Unity OAC/Adventure students. This was a fun opportunity for the TERRAIN students to put their team and navigation skills into practice. Thanks to Adam and his team, including Jes Steele, who helped design the activities, for a great experience.

Wrapping up my description of the Sky Lodge activities, I would like to say that I am very proud of the way in which the TERRAIN students conducted themselves throughout my time with the group. They were respectful and supportive of one another and seriously engaged in the learning activities. I am also astounded by the thoughtfulness, rigor, and creativity that Kate, Randy, Chelsea, and the TERRAIN team (instructors, fellows, and student success staff) put into designing these learning experiences and the energy and care team members put into their engagement with the students every minute of this trip. If you see any of them around, tell them “Thank you for a job exceptionally well done!”

 

Next week, our second cohort of students will head up to TERRAIN with their instructional team. Let’s think good weather thoughts …

  

— Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

November 9, 2019

TERRAIN update: November 1-8, 2019

November 1 – 8, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

For their final one-day excursion, students traveled to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. For those of you unfamiliar with the park, it is run by Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists and game wardens. The animals at the park are not able to be returned to their natural habitats due to having been injured, orphaned, or raised (often illegally) to be human-dependent. IF&W professionals care for the animals and provide programming to educate the public about their needs and the role that the public can play in conserving and protecting wildlife.  During their visit, the TERRAIN students met IF&W professionals, saw many exhibits, and got to witness and learn about brook trout stocking and reproduction. IF&W staff were engaged in an “egg-take” – collecting Brook Trout eggs for the Dry Mills Fish Hatchery. TERRAIN students were able to handle the fish and see the process in action.

 

The instructional team is busily preparing for the group’s second extended trip to Sky Lodge. The first TERRAIN cohort will spend November 11-14 at the lodge and the second group will follow on November 18-21.

  

Behind the Scenes

 

President Khoury and I facilitated a feedback discussion with 7 current TERRAIN students over lunch on Thursday. The students shared suggestions about how to strengthen the program (including addressing issues such as providing hot and more varied meals during excursions and not grouping students who are enrolled in an expedition together in a single residence hall). For the most part, the students’ concerns were issues we were already aware of and have addressed in the TERRAIN 2020 implementation design. We are hoping to have more opportunities to engage in focused discussions with TERRAIN students as they wrap up and reflect on their experiences.

 

The Sustaining the Flagship group worked with Registrar Kelsey Gilbert this week, providing feedback on a “block” model that we might use to schedule classes in the quarter calendar system. Kelsey and I are continuing to refine this model.

 

 

I look forward to sharing more details and perhaps even a few photographs from lovely Sky Lodge in next week’s update.

 

— Jen

 

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

November 1, 2019

TERRAIN update: October 28 – November 1

 

October 28 – November 1, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

This week’s remarkably detailed  In the Field update comes straight from TERRAIN cohort 2 team leader Aly McKnight …

 

TERRAIN students have been diving deep into marine waterbirds lately, leading up to the long-awaited (by Aly) waterbird survey we conducted this Wednesday from the Vinalhaven ferry. To prepare for the survey, the students learned to identify 22 waterbird species common to Penobscot Bay, ranging from sea ducks to loons and alcids. They spent last week’s integrated project period constructing individualized “distance estimation sticks,” which utilize geometric principles to aid in distance estimation on boat-based marine bird and mammal surveys. We also spent a good bit of time in that project session doing a “dry run” of the survey technique, where an observer spots and identifies all birds within ~250m of one side of the boat, while a data recorder inputs the species, count, behavior, distance, and angle for each sighting into a specialized survey app that stamps each record with the time and geographic coordinates. Students were thus well-prepared to pull off the actual survey, where we traveled in two different groups on four ferry legs, gathering 500 waterbird records. We are now compiling the data and happy to report that no iPads were lost overboard! While on the island, we got to visit the Vinalhaven Historical Society museum, where we interacted with artifacts illustrating the small community’s granite- and fishing-entwined history. During yesterday’s integrated project session, we used the survey project experience to explore connections between evolutionary relationships and classification, using our now well-known waterbird species as a model taxonomic group. Students are also using the project experience to explore differences in how we use sources in scientific work versus narrative writing. Next week we will dive into data analysis, using the survey data to assess detection rates, estimate population sizes, put together maps of where we saw each species, and start to make inferences about habitat use based on the exact locations of our sightings along depth and shore distance gradients.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

Two weeks ago, Chief Sustainability Officer Jenny deHart and Chief Facilities Management Officer Jim Kauppila met with Sustaining the Flagship members to discuss anticipated needs to support the TERRAIN launch in 2020. This week, Jenny and Jim returned to the group to share their initial suggestions for creating or repurposing spaces on campus to meet the needs for classrooms and residence hall common spaces that can accommodate larger groups of students and on-campus housing options for TERRAIN Fellows.

 

I also had an opportunity to meet with a group of first year students in Unity Experience to share information about the quarter calendar and answer their questions about TERRAIN and upcoming curricular changes. To help make new ideas more concrete, I prepared a couple of hypothetical schedules. After the discussion, students reported that these examples were helpful. I would like to encourage anyone who has questions to visit my office and speak with me directly. And please feel free to send students or employees my way if I can be helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

Jen

TERRAIN update archive

 

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

October 26, 2019

TERRAIN update October 19-25


October 19-15, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

During this week’s excursion – right here on Quaker Hill Road in the Facilities building and the animal barn – TERRAIN students were introduced to three professionals who have followed different environmental career paths. While learning to operate dart guns and blow darts for immobilizing animals, students met Director of Public Safety Dennis Picard. Dennis provided a brief lesson on firearm safety and spoke with students about his path to a career as a civilian safety officer. Students also met Dr. Rob Adamski and heard about some of his experiences as a wildlife veterinarian. Animal Programs Manager Meg Anderson provided the TERRAIN students with a highly informative lesson about animal care, used our barn animals to point out target sites for animal darting, and explained her role in ensuring that all aspects of the “barn ecosystem” are working smoothly. Big “thank you’s” to Dennis, Rob, and Meg for their work supporting our students!

 

Wednesday’s excursion was also a reminder for the TERRAIN group that some outdoor experiences can be pretty uncomfortable when it’s chilly and wet. This was a good opportunity for the Fellows to revisit earlier lessons with students about the need for appropriate layers and attention to self-care ahead of November excursions to Vinalhaven and Jackman.

 

Fellows are also working on an excursion planning and debrief template that can be shared with faculty and staff who will be working with TERRAIN students in the future. This tool should help ensure that excursions are well organized and learning experiences are safe and run smoothly.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

TERRAIN students Michelle Spies and Cameron Day joined instructional team leader Kate Coseo at the TERRAIN information table during Saturday’s Open House. The students and Kate conversed with prospective students and family members about the TERRAIN program, responded to questions, and shared highlights from their experience. Thank you to Michelle, Cameron, and Kate for taking the time to support our future students!

 

In Sustaining the Flagship, we spent considerable time this week working on a preliminary budget model. CAO Latty, VPF Falcon, Dean MacRae, Registrar Gilbert, and I also sketched out possible block schedule formats for course offerings and continued discussions about the transition to a quarter calendar. This work is ongoing.

 

 

 

—- Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

October 19, 2019

TERRAIN update October 14-19

 October 14-18, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

TERRAIN students returned to Peter Gray Hatchery in Machias to work with the Downeast Salmon Federation this week. They helped hatchery staff release thousands of parr (juvenile salmon) into the East Machias River. A team from Fox News was on site to capture the recovery work. Check out the video!

 

Behind the Scenes

 

This week Marketing previewed four TERRAIN promotional videos with the Sustaining the Flagship team. Each video is targeted for a different audience (e.g., students who are interested in the environment but uncertain about an academic major, school counselors, etc.). The videos will be part of a strategic marketing campaign for TERRAIN.

 

The STF team also revisited our “to do” list and were pleased to note progress on a number of goals including (1) specifying Canvas user roles/responsibilities to enable effective use of our LMS to support expeditions; (2) development of an FAQ sheet to support faculty and staff interaction with prospective students and visitors during Open House; (3) capturing b-roll of TERRAIN  testbed experiences; and (4) drafting a transcript template that will enable us to communicate clearly about the disciplinary content students have studied within expeditions and fusion courses.

 

For those of you who might have missed one, here is the link to the weekly TERRAIN update archive.

 

I look forward to seeing many of you at Open House today and having another opportunity to share information about TERRAIN with our prospective students and visitors.

 

Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

October 11, 2019

TERRAIN update October 7-11

October 7-11, 2019

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

This week half of the students from each TERRAIN cohort visited the Peter Gray Fish Hatchery in East Machias. The students spent the entire day working alongside professional scientists, learning to clip fins on an estimated 3000 Atlantic Salmon. During the “lunchtime lecture” Randy Colvin provided students with additional information about the Downeast Salmon Federation and the Atlantic Salmon Recovery project. Faculty and fellows who participated with the students reported that the group worked very hard (leaving campus at 7 AM and returning at 5 PM) and remained focused and professional while on site. Just as importantly, all 3000 of the fish they clipped survived the procedure, indicative of the students’ ability to master the appropriate technique.

TERRAIN TERRAIN TERRAIN TERRAIN

 

In Thursday’s Integrated Project time, students who participated in the trip summarized the experience for their peers during the debrief and the whole group worked on calculating survival rates for the salmon at different life stages. They will be using additional data to evaluate the efficacy of salmon recovery projects. Next week, the other half of the students will be returning to the hatchery to help release the clipped salmon into the East Machias River.

 

TERRAIN students also participated in a reflective exercise about learning strategies this week. They completed Kolb’s learning style inventory and discussed how collaboration with peers who have different styles can enhance their own learning experience. They also discussed the importance of understanding their needs as learners and using strategies to meet those needs.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

Design of curriculum for Years 3 & 4 is ongoing. I have met with various faculty members or groups to help them get the process started or answer questions over the past week and have meetings on my calendar to meet with additional colleagues next week. So, the faculty have jumped into this work quite quickly and I anticipate that we will have drafts of program curricula by the end of October.

 

In Sustaining the Flagship, we met with Jenny deHart and Jim Kauppila to discuss anticipated needs for space (e.g., housing for TERRAIN fellows, large classrooms, larger or enhanced meeting spaces in residence halls) and transportation when we roll out TERRAIN next fall. Jenny and Jim will draft proposals outlining options for addressing these needs in the next few weeks.

 

Many of you attended the information session that Melik hosted for students on Tuesday (11:30 AM). Thank you to Melik and to everyone who was able to attend to learn about students’ concerns and acquire information about how to respond to those concerns with accurate information.

 

—- Jen

 

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

October 4, 2019

TERRAIN update: September 30-October 4

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

This week the TERRAIN students used Wednesday (usually devoted to off-campus excursions) to share their Personal Place speeches. In addition to faculty member Josh Kercsmar and instructional fellow Emily Goldthwaite, who provide CCI instruction for TERRAIN students, other members of the instructional team came to hear the speeches and lend support. The TERRAIN team was proud of how students supported one another and were moved by the thoughtful and personal stories that they shared.

 

As noted last week, the presence of multiple faculty members and instructional fellows enriched the learning experience. For example, a student who experienced intense anxiety related to public speaking was able to receive focused coaching from one team member while other team members continued to facilitate the group session. Ultimately, the student overcame their initial panic and successfully delivered their speech, yet another example of how TERRAIN students encounter and grow through challenge. It is evident that many students appreciate the attention they receive from their instructional team. Wednesday evening, one faculty member received e-mails from six different students thanking her for coming to the speeches and supporting them.

 

Fellows Emily and Chelsea organized an opportunity for Unity College student Kevin Richards to present his internship work on Moose tracking in northern Maine during an evening session at the CLC this week. Several TERRAIN students took advantage of this opportunity. Kevin’s presentation was highly engaging and TERRAIN students asked many questions. They shared that they appreciated learning about this kind of work, were interested in having these opportunities themselves, and took notice of Kevin’s advice about building professional relationships with Unity professors.

 

Next week the TERRAIN team will be heading to a fish hatchery to learn about Atlantic salmon recovery strategies and field techniques (including fin clipping).

 

Behind the Scenes

 

This week we dove into curriculum design for Years 3 and 4. During faculty meeting, I shared planning templates and documents summarizing the planned TERRAIN expeditions and Year 1 and 2 short courses. Throughout the month of October, faculty members will draw on these resources to outline curriculum plans for their degree majors that build on the TERRAIN foundation.

 

In Sustaining the Flagship meetings, we have devoted considerable time to learning more about the systems we currently use in dining (for meal planning, food purchasing, etc.) and brainstorming ways to more efficiently prepare meals for students participating in excursions, recognizing that there are different caloric needs for higher activity excursions (e.g., canoeing and hiking trips) versus lower activity excursions (e.g., next week’s planned visit to a fish hatchery).

 

—- Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

September 27, 2019

TERRAIN update: September 23-27

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

During Integrated Project time, students dove more deeply into the data that they collected during last week’s Scarborough Marsh excursion. They applied mathematics skills to extrapolate – based upon the bacteria they cultured from marsh soil at the end of last week – the overall population of DMSP*-producing bacteria. Students also extrapolated from their bird observation data to estimate populations of various species. This was an opportunity to deepen Excel skills and learn about limitations associated with sampling strategies and extrapolation. Next steps for this data analysis will include learning to use the NOAA Marsh Migration tool and GIS data projections to estimate (and visualize) the potential impact of sea level rise on the Scarborough Marsh.

 

*(For those of you – like myself – who are unfamiliar with this this acronym … DMSP is the chemical shorthand for dimethylsulfoniopropionate – a molecule that, when metabolized, gives rise to a gas that may function to regulate climate by increasing cloud droplet formation.)

 

During our weekly debrief, the instructional team continued to emphasize the richness of integrated project learning opportunities and the essential role of collaboration for supporting these opportunities. The most effective lessons/tasks this term have been those that emerged from collaborative planning and were implemented in a context facilitated by multiple team members. We would like to preserve these design features in the 2020 TERRAIN launch.

 

This week, the TERRAIN cohorts travelled to Frye Mountain, where they applied various skills (use of compasses and GIS, line transects, etc.) in a novel context. During the experience debrief, students identified aspects of the experience that were challenging and discussed strategies that supported success. The instructors were pleased with the level of professionalism and collaboration exhibited by the students throughout this excursion.

 

At least in some contexts, the TERRAIN cohorts appear to be entering the “storming” stage of group development (group development theory posits four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing). This stage generally emerges when groups become comfortable with one another and experience challenges associated with different working styles. Currently, the TERRAIN students are working productively in academic contexts, but feeling some tension in the residence hall setting. The team is responding by encouraging students to participate in campus-wide events and supporting conflict-resolution when needed. It’s important to bear in mind that this is a normal and predictable stage of group development and generally a sign that trusting relationships are forming. When we implement TERRAIN next year, it may be preferable for the residence hall (and Expedition Community) assignments to be independent of students’ enrollment in specific expeditions. In other words, students may not be both living and taking expeditions with the same 30 peers for an entire term. This should help them to make more connections with other first-year students and provide more opportunities to have time away from intense group experiences.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

I have worked with the VPF, CAO, and Deans MacRae and deHart this week to elaborate a staffing model for expeditions, informed by the work of the current testbed team. We hope that this will be the basis of a broader discussion, which will include faculty, of what course schedules might look like within the quarter calendar and how teaching workload might be calculated. In the Sustaining the Flagship meetings, we gave the Registrar feedback on a draft of a TERRAIN transcript and worked with Dining Director Becky Sugden to brainstorm strategies to provide for the nutritional needs of students on excursions.

 

 

— Jen

 

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

September 20, 2019

This week’s TERRAIN update: 9.14-9.20

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

This week, the instructional team really hit their stride during Integrated Project time! Earlier in the week, the groups went to Scarborough Marsh, where they canoed, hiked, and gathered data on water quality and bird species. They also gathered mud samples. During Integrated Project the next day, students learned how to perform serial dilutions (applied mathematics) and techniques for plating bacteria. Next week, they will be examining and characterizing the colonies that grow on their plates, and connecting to key concepts underlying biological classification and mathematics (exponential growth). The team found that having multiple professors (e.g., math and biology instructors) present during the Integrated Project work session enriched the experience for students by supporting more explicit connections across content disciplines and provided an opportunity to model professional discourse among colleagues.

 

One of the students shared that he is “not great at science and math” and has “assumed [he wants] to be a warden.” But, after handling scientific laboratory equipment for the first time during the Integrated Project, he realized that “maybe [he] could be a wildlife biologist.” This is only one anecdote, but it does suggest that the TERRAIN context can help us achieve our goal of exposing first year students to a variety of career possibilities. Moreover, it helps us see how students who are not initially motivated to engage with mathematics and science (or other topics) may access these domains more readily through immersive, contextualized experiences and with the guidance of a skilled instructional team.

 

The TERRAIN students also continued to work on their Professional Development pathway in Portfolium, with guidance from Rachel Kahn and Kristine McCallister. This week students focused on resumé writing. In addition, they completed the College Learning Effectiveness Inventory (CLEI), a component of their Personal Development pathway in Portfolium. The CLEI is a tool to measure psychosocial variables that impact success, especially among first-year college students. In a week or two, each TERRAIN student will receive a summary of his/her responses along with a description of strategies and resources available to support growth related to each of the factors measured by the CLEI sub-scales (e.g., time management, stress reduction, etc.). At the end of the term, each student will report (in Portfolium) on progress toward one specific growth goal.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

During Sustaining the Flagship meetings this week, we continued to plan for specific TERRAIN roles in Canvas and identified the need for a few modifications to the TERRAIN informational slide show based on responses from parents and students during Instant Admissions Day. Overall response from IAD visitors was very positive. Parents were particularly quick to express support for grounding liberal arts concepts and skills in meaningful contexts. They also wanted more information about how AP credits would impact students’ schedule and what their transcripts will look like. The STF team is working with Kelsey Gilbert and Heather McAnirlin to address these questions ahead of Open House on October 19th.

 

— Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201

 

 

 

September 13, 2019

TERRAIN update: September 9-13

TERRAIN Update: September 9-13

 

In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

This week TERRAIN students, faculty, and fellows spent their excursion time on Freedom Pond and Ellis Pond learning and practicing canoe skills (including exciting “T-rescues!”) with Adam Williams and Jes Steele. This experience provided students with the opportunity to strengthen their confidence on the water, develop as leaders, take risks in a supportive environment, and connect deeply with their environment.

This work also prepared the group to conduct a canoe-based wildlife survey (happening next week in Scarborough Marsh), which will require students to draw on the navigation skills they built up at Sky Lodge and have been practicing in Wildlife Techniques. So, in short, the excursions are functioning – as planned! – as contexts where students synthesize ideas and skills from various experiences and apply them to accomplish meaningful tasks.

 

Also this week, students continued their integrated project work relating to site description writing. Through reading examples and discussions, they have identified the primary differences between scientific site descriptions and narrative depictions of place (scientific descriptions require a specific geographic address, and narrative site descriptions often incorporate the narrator’s experience/influence, among other differences). They have now started writing their own site descriptions about places they’ve visited during recent field excursions and should be well-prepared to implement this skill into writing assignments in Biology and Wildlife Techniques.

 

The TERRAIN students are also beginning to use Portfolium as a platform to document completion of tasks and achievement of skills, particularly skills related to digital literacy, professional development, and personal growth. Student Success has been providing various experiences to support this dimension of the TERRAIN experience, including a discussion this week about suicide prevention and awareness, facilitated by Greg Marley, Clinical Director of NAMI Maine.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

The Sustaining the Flagship group continues to meet three times weekly. At least one of these meetings is devoted exclusively to work supporting the full implementation of TERRAIN in fall 2020. This week we met with Ben Stafford and Ben Edwards to discuss creating a variety of roles (with associated functions/permissions) in Canvas to enable members of expeditionary learning teams to share information and communicate clearly with students.

 

In a separate meeting, Registrar Kelsey Gilbert and CLO Erika Latty met with Director of Financial Aid Sherry McCollett and me to discuss financial aid in the quarter system.

 

On the Horizon

 

President Khoury and I will be providing an overview of TERRAIN for the students and visitors who will be joining us for Instant Admissions Day tomorrow (Saturday, September 14th). Members of the TERRAIN testbed team (Randy Colvin and Tom Whittaker) will be joining me and current TERRAIN students at an information table during this event. We are looking forward to being able to tell future students about this wonderful learning opportunity.

 

Respectfully,

 

Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201