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Environmental and Ecological Engineering in Context: A Foundational Graduate Course

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Inventive Opportunities for Research and Exposure

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Inez Hua Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Inez Hua is Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering. Her research and teaching areas include aquatic chemistry, water pollution control, environmental sustainability in engineering education, and sustainable electronics. Dr. Hua has a Ph.D and an MS in Environmental Engineering and Science from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a BA in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Loring Nies Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Larry (Loring) Nies
Professor of Environmental and Ecological Engineering
Professor of Civil Engineering
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Ph.D., 1993 The University of Michigan Environmental Engineering

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Lindsey B. Payne Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Lindsey Payne is a Director in the Office of Engagement at Purdue University coordinating service-learning programs and initiatives. She has a courtesy appointment in Environmental and Ecological Engineering where she teaches a service-learning course in which interdisciplinary teams of students collaboratively identify stormwater management problems, co-design solutions, maintain budgets, and evaluate impacts with community partners. Dr. Payne’s research sits at the intersection of sustainability, teaching and learning, and engagement focusing on transdisciplinary decision-making frameworks in community-based design projects. She also specializes in the assessment of instructional effectiveness and student learning in active learning environments. She is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, and is the Chair of the Teaching Academy. She has a B.A in Biological Sciences from DePauw University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Ecological Sciences and Engineering from Purdue University. She has also worked professionally in the non-profit and secondary education sectors, and currently serves on multiple community-based environmental boards.

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Graduate programs in environmental and ecological engineering attract students from diverse intellectual backgrounds. Much of the graduate population in environmental engineering at U.S. institutions consists of students who completed majors in a variety of engineering disciplines, or the natural sciences. At Purdue University, the faculty discussed and developed a unique, team taught and modular graduate course, to serve as a foundation for all students completing graduate studies in environmental and ecological engineering. The course also serves as a bridge between graduate level course work and research projects. The genesis of the course included a comprehensive needs assessment with input from all of the teaching faculty, and mapping of the existing curriculum to disciplinary body of knowledge documents. The implementation of the course coincided with the launch of the graduate program at Purdue University.

The course is built upon unique pedagogy and structure. An important outcome of the process was a course framework that included a central course coordinator and six team taught modules over the course of an academic year. Involvement of multiple faculty in a foundational course mirrors the breadth of the environmental and ecological engineering discipline, and provides students with a view of different teaching and mentoring styles. In addition, the course incorporated principles of active learning, communication to engage a broad audience, and innovative course deliverables. The course was assessed by collecting input from students during multiple focus group sessions, and the course has evolved through several iterations (years) of teaching. This paper describes the process by which the course was developed, foundational concepts and examples of context, and a synthesis of the focus group input.

Hua, I., & Nies, L., & Payne, L. B. (2020, June), Environmental and Ecological Engineering in Context: A Foundational Graduate Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34581

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