15th Biennial Conference on University Education in Natural Resources

Building Connections: Pathways to community engagement and accessibility in natural resource education

Your Host:
The Oregon State University College of Forestry is an internationally recognized leader that is transforming education, research and policy for managing and sustaining working forest ecosystems in the 21st century. Home to five undergraduate programs and three graduate programs, the college offers a world-class education leading toward countless career opportunities. For our partners, we are a trusted authority and world leader in outreach and research, providing the latest scientific knowledge, woven together with Traditional Ecological Knowledge and multiple ways of knowing, to inform policy and business decisions across the forest landscape.

Format: Virtual

The schedule has been posted!

Special sessions and workshop proposals: No longer accepting.

Please contact Eli Swanson for more details: elizabeth.swanson@oregonstate.edu

Keynote Talks

Dr. Cristina Eisenberg: Place-Based Pedagogy that Takes Us Beyond the Land Acknowledgement

Academic institutions have a mission to serve learners from diverse backgrounds, in order to support their academic success and enable them to thrive in life. Place-based pedagogy has long been used to engage students more deeply. However, Indigenous students often struggle in academic programs to have their needs for accessibility and equity fully met. For Indigenous students from land-grant institutions particularly, which were founded on land stolen from local Indigenous Peoples, place-based learning can inadvertently bring up trans-generational trauma. Dr. Eisenberg will talk about how to take institutions of higher education beyond the land acknowledgment by decolonizing place-based pedagogy for all students. She will cover the basic principles for creating allyships across cultures and an inclusive and safe space for learning for Indigenous students. In her work over the past decade and a half with Indigenous students from many countries globally, she has seen how a decolonized place-based pedagogical approach enables Indigenous students to succeed on multiple levels. She will provide examples from her ongoing work with Indigenous students in the US and Canada.

Dr. Natalie Bursztyn: Using VR to improve accessibility in field based education

Dr. Bursztyn will take us on a tour through the development and assessment of a virtual reality program designed to increase accessibility and teach geoscience students the practice of field mapping. The program exists in both web-based and immersive (headset-based) VR, allowing students to learn how to take measurements “in the field” with a compass with immediate feedback on correctness. Data can be collected from the virtual environments in a classroom setting, while seated, standing, or otherwise.

Dr. Barbara Spiecker: Can We Push the Boundaries of Science Communication?

Science communication plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between scientific research and the everyday lives of people in our community, encouraging the dissemination of knowledge and promoting scientific literacy. Yet for all we know about communication and science, how to engage communities in the science conversations that matter most to them remains a mystery. Can we push the boundaries of science communication to incorporate diverse voices and challenge our conventional assumptions of what communication looks like? How can we create clear, accessible, and engaging communication that sparks curiosity, inspires interest, and empowers individuals to make informed decisions? As a marine ecologist and a member of the underrepresented deaf community, I have seen firsthand the power of science communication in breaking down barriers and fostering a more inclusive and equitable scientific community. My experience led me to found a non-profit organization, Atomic Hands, whose mission is to work with the community to develop engaging STEM resources in American Sign Language and create inclusive spaces that will facilitate the exchange of ideas between signing and speaking communities.

Using examples from my own experience and that of others, this talk will consider: (1) ways we can push the boundaries of science communication; (2) ways we can amplify diverse voices and reach a broader range of individuals and perspectives; and (3) ways we can enhance collaborative efforts between science communication organizations like Atomic Hands, scientists, educators, and policymakers in cultivating a scientifically informed and diverse society.

Dr. Nathaniel Kirk: A CURE to limited research opportunities for all: Partnering with students in your classroom to have authentic course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs)

One of the many interventions that focuses on increasing participation in STEM and reducing gaps between student self-efficacy, performance and retention are course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). These courses can also engage more people equitably in our academic research while allowing us, as faculty, to simultaneously fulfill quality teaching missions while collecting data. Here we will discuss the design, implementation, evaluation and some of the impacts of 3 separate CUREs: 1 lower division survey course and 2 upper division specialty courses in invertebrate zoology. In our introductory course, students collected pilot data on sea anemone energetics in a model organism while we measured student science self-efficacy, science identity and integration into science community (integration) after CURE participation. We were encouraged that our students increased in self-efficacy from pre- to post-CURE regardless of GPA, gender, or race. However, there was no significant change in science identity even though students generally moved in a positive direction. In our upper division courses, students are integrated into projects that align to my research or that of a graduate teaching assistant; peer-reviewed publications have resulted from the collaboration with students as consortia authors. Ecampus students can also engage in CUREs, which increase their access to research experience. Overall, CURE participation can increase self-efficacy and access to hands-on research experience.