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An Interdisciplinary Learning Module on Water Sustainability in Cities

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Steven J. Burian University of Utah

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Dr. Steven J. Burian has advanced water infrastructure resiliency and sustainability through research, led multi-disciplinary water initiatives, and inspired students with his passionate approach to engineering education. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Environmental Engineering and a Doctorate in Civil Engineering from The University of Alabama. Dr. Burian’s professional career spans more than 20 years during which he has worked as a design engineer, as a Visiting Professor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a Professor at the University of Arkansas and the University of Utah, and as the Chief Water Consultant of an international engineering and sustainability consulting firm he co-founded. He served as the first co-Director of Sustainability Curriculum Development at the University of Utah where he created pan-campus degree programs and stimulated infusion of sustainability principles and practices in teaching and learning activities across campus. Dr. Burian currently is the Project Director of the USAID-funded U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water at the University of Utah. He also serves as the Associate Director for the Global Change and Sustainability Center at the University of Utah where he facilitates interdisciplinary sustainability research initiatives. His research group has contributed new approaches for designing urban water infrastructure, innovative urban databases and water modeling techniques, sustainable solutions for distributed water-energy-food systems in cities, and practical adaptation strategies for water managers facing aging infrastructure, climate change, and other challenges. This research has been funded by NSF, EPA, NASA, DOD, DOE, USAID, National Labs, State Departments of Transportation, and Industry in the U.S. and several countries. More than 75 authored or co-authored peer-reviewed publications, 100 conference papers and project reports, and several software packages and databases have been produced from this research. Dr. Burian’s enthusiasm for student learning has led to numerous teaching awards and the creation of new pedagogical approaches directed toward multi-institution collaborative learning. He has also sought to advance teaching effectiveness of engineering educators by serving as mentor at the American Society of Civil Engineers ExCEEd Teaching Workshop and as the developer of a variety of teaching and curriculum development workshops, including the recent Wasatch Experience at the University of Utah.

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Manoj K. Jha North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Manoj K Jha is an associate professor in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering department at the North Carolina A&T State University. His research interests include hydrology and water quality studies for water resources management under land use change and climate change. His educational research interests include critical thinking and active learning.

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Gigi A. Richard Colorado Mesa University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Gigi Richard is currently the Faculty Director of the Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) in Grand Junction, CO and a Professor of Geosciences at CMU. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University and a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in civil engineering. Gigi created the Watershed Science program at CMU and co-founded the Water Center at CMU, which facilitates education, research and dialogue on water issues facing the Upper Colorado River Basin. Gigi teaches water and environmental science classes and her research on human impacts on rivers systems includes the study of downstream impacts of dams, levees and other human activities on rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and New Zealand.

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Marshall Shepherd University of Georgia

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John Taber Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology

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As part of the National Science Foundation InTeGrate project, an interdisciplinary course module on Water Sustainability in Cities has been created by professors with backgrounds in civil engineering, hydrology, and atmospheric sciences at four higher education institutions in the United States. The module has nine units, with each unit composed of one or more 75-minute lessons. The materials introduce concepts related to sustainability and sustainable design of water infrastructure, urban hydrology, urban climate and evapotranspiration, water demand and stormwater runoff, water infrastructure, green infrastructure, extreme events, and planning. These concepts are delivered in interactive lecture and flipped classroom modes. Data-driven examples, case studies, and an integrative planning and design exercise provide guided and independent learning opportunities. The module includes explicit formative and summative assessment elements, culminating in the team project. After the materials were created, the module was reviewed for quality by independent experts, revised by the instructor team, pilot tested, assessed, revised again, and made available online. The pilot testing was conducted in four different courses, at a variety of undergraduate student levels (freshman to senior), and at different institutions. The pilot testing helped to identify areas to improve as well as approaches to adapt the module to different types of courses and different styles of teaching, all of which has been recorded in instructor guidance online. The effectiveness of the module in the pilot tests was assessed in terms of changes to student attitudes and motivations with regards to environmental sustainability. Student learning is also lightly assessed. This paper describes the module content and assessment, the process of development, and lessons learned about the interdisciplinary and multiple instructor design and testing of an instructional module.

Burian, S. J., & Jha, M. K., & Richard, G. A., & Shepherd, M., & Taber, J. (2017, June), An Interdisciplinary Learning Module on Water Sustainability in Cities Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27579

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