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Using Social Media to Create a Global Community of Sustainability-Engaged Students

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Conference

2014 ASEE International Forum

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 3 - Session 2

Tagged Topic

Student Development

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

20.40.1 - 20.40.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/17203

Download Count

66

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Paper Authors

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Matthew E Verbyla University of South Florida

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Matthew Verbyla is a Ph.D. student of Environmental Engineering and NSF Graduate Research Fellow at the University of South Florida. Matthew worked for several years in the water and sanitation sector in Honduras, including one year with a Fulbright Fellowship. He currently studies pathogen removal in wastewater treatment ponds and microbial risk in wastewater irrigation systems in Bolivia.

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Colleen Claire Naughton

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Colleen Naughton is a doctoral student at the University of South Florida in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is advised by Dr. James R. Mihelcic. Colleen was part of the Peace Corps Master’s International Program where she served and conducted research in Mali, West Africa for three years as a Water and Sanitation Engineer. Her research was focused on “Monitoring and Evaluation of an Appropriate Handwashing Technology.” Colleen’s dissertation research involves a human and embodied material energy analysis of the Shea Butter process; mapping the Shea Butter belt using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to estimate the area and population that work with and consume Shea butter; and quantifying emissions of carbon black from the smoking and boiling of shea nuts.

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Allan Feldman University of South Florida

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Allan Feldman is a professor of science education at the University of South Florida. For the past 20 years his research has focused on science teacher learning and action research. His current research focuses the ways in which people learn to engage in science and engineering practices in apprenticeship situations. He has been PI and co-PI of NSF projects, many of which have been in collaboration with colleagues in the sciences and engineering. These include environmental studies of acid mine drainage, arsenic in the environment, algal biofuels, and water and wastewater treatment. He is currently working with an interdisciplinary team of engineers, scientists and anthropologists on water, waste and energy in developing countries. He taught middle and high school science and math for 17 years before obtaining his doctorate at Stanford University.

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Vanessa Vernaza-Hernandez University of South Florida

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Marilyn E Brandt University of the Virgin Islands

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Maya A Trotz University of South Florida

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Dr. Trotz is an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida. She works at the nexus of geochemistry/water quality and global/community sustainability and education. Her interests are interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, applied and forge non traditional university partnerships with local and international entities.

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E. Christian Wells University of South Florida

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Dr. E. Christian Wells is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida (USF), where he has served as the Founding Director of the Office of Sustainability (2009-2012) and as Deputy Director of the Patel School of Global Sustainability (2010-2012). He received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Arizona State University. He is an environmental archaeologist, whose research investigates cultural and historical trajectories of complex systems dynamics, including the social and ecological consequences of global tourism and human impacts on soil and water systems. He has undertaken field research in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, and the United States, and is currently Co-Principal Investigator on a five-year (2013-2017), $3.9 million NSF-Partnerships for International Research and Education project, which examines sustainable nutrient management systems and coastal health in communities throughout the Caribbean.

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James R. Mihelcic University of South Florida

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Dr. James R. Mihelcic is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and State of Florida 21st Century World Class Scholar at the University of South Florida (Tampa). Dr. Mihelcic directs over $7 million of research projects including an EPA National Research Center for “Reinventing Aging Infrastructure for Nutrient Management” and an NSF PIRE project titled Context Sensitive Implementation of Synergistic Water-Energy Systems (see http://usf-reclaim.org/). He also directs the Peace Corps Master's International Program in Civil & Environmental Engineering which allows students to combine their graduate studies with service and research in the Peace Corps as water/sanitation engineers (http://cee.eng.usf.edu/peacecorps).
His teaching and research interests are centered around engineering and sustainability, specifically understanding how global stressors such as climate, land use, and urbanization influence water resources, water quality, water reuse & resource recovery, and selection and provision of water supply and sanitation infrastructure. He is also an international expert in provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene in developed and developing world communities.
Dr. Mihelcic is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chartered and Environmental Engineering Science Advisory Boards. He is past president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP), a Board Certified Environmental Engineering Member, and Board Trustee with the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists (AAEES). He is lead author for 3 textbooks: Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering (John Wiley & Sons, 1999) (translated into Spanish); Field Guide in Environmental Engineering for Development Workers: Water, Sanitation, Indoor Air (ASCE Press, 2009); and, Environmental Engineering: Fundamentals, Sustainability, Design (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) (2nd Edition to appear in January, 2014) (translated into Spanish & Portuguese). He (and his students) have also received several university and national education and research awards, including some from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Abstract

Using Social Media to Create a Global Community of Sustainability- Engaged StudentsPrograms that enable engineering students to study outside of the United States have beeneffectively integrated with engineering education (Trotz et al., 2009). These programs areexposing students to global concepts of sustainability (Hokanson et al., 2007) and helping themdevelop core competencies in engineering while simultaneously building higher cognitive levelsin some skills and in attitudes and identity outcomes (Bielefeldt et al., 2010). However, not everystudent can travel outside of the country. Social networking sites, such as Twitter, have not onlybeen embraced by students from younger generations, they are also being used to communicatescience (Darling et al. 2013). This study seeks to answer the question: can social media be usedto create a global community of students that are engaged in learning about sustainability?In 2013, the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI)launched “Reclaim” as a way to create a community that connects researchers around the worldfrom different disciplines who are dedicated to the recovery of resources from waste. “Reclaim”utilizes a website (usf-reclaim.org) with a blog, a YouTube channel (youtube.com/usfreclaim),and a Twitter account (@USF_Reclaim) to create this global community and disseminateresearch findings and educational materials. In addition, a one-credit course is currently beingoffered to students from USF and UVI, designed to operate entirely through the use of thesesocial networking platforms. The overall purpose of the course is to inform students about theprofessional meaning of sustainability across different disciplines, and help them developskillsets to become globally competent in science and engineering, with a particular focus onsustainable engineered, environmental, and social systems. Each week, one or two studentsproduce a 10-15 minute video and select reading materials related to a topic selected by thecourse professor. Case studies are used to explore interdisciplinary solutions to context-sensitivesystems. The responsible students host a Twitter chat each week about the topic covered in thevideo, the readings, or the case study.The content and substance of conversations taking place during weekly Twitter discussions andthe interaction between students in different geographic locations and from different disciplinesis currently being measured. After the first four weeks, the Twitter chats have seen participationfrom over 40 people from different disciplines (engineering, anthropology, education,philosophy, marine science, biochemistry, and microbiology) representing nine differentuniversities in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Czech Republic, the Netherlands,Bolivia, and the United Kingdom. Analysis of YouTube analytics data and data from the Twitterchats suggests several findings: 1) participants from outside of the United States are viewingonline material for a longer period of time on average than participants from the United States; 2)most students used Twitter infrequently before the course and none of them used it in this way;3) while multiple conversational strands occur simultaneously in the Twitter discussions,participants maintain conversations for up to nine turns over a 15 minute time interval; 4) contentanalysis of tweets suggests that most tweets are structured as reasoned claims with somearguments framed as syllogisms; and 5) new conversational strands have emerged during Twitterchats as participants asked questions that either challenged a comment made by others in a tweetor requested clarification of points.References1. Bielefeldt, A.R., Paterson, K., Swan, C. 2010. Measuring the Value Added from Service Learning in Project-Based Engineering Education. International Journal of Engineering Education, 26(3), 535-546.2. Darling, E.S., Shiffman, D., Côté, I.M., Drew, J.A. 2013. The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution, 6, 32-43.3. Hokanson, D.R., Phillips, L.D., Mihelcic, J.R. 2007. Educating Engineers in the Sustainable Futures Model with a Global Perspective: Education, Research and Diversity Initiatives. International Journal of Engineering Education, 23(2), 254-265.4. Trotz, M.A., Muga, H.E., Philips, L.D., Yeh, D., Stuart, A., Mihelcic, J.R. 2009. Non- Traditional University Research Partners that Facilitate Service Learning and Graduate Research for Sustainable Development. Proceedings of the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress, S. Starrett, ed., American Society of Civil Engineers, Kansas City, MO, 2038–2048.

Verbyla, M. E., & Naughton, C. C., & Feldman, A., & Vernaza-Hernandez , V., & Brandt, M. E., & Trotz, M. A., & Wells, E. C., & Mihelcic, J. R. (2014, June), Using Social Media to Create a Global Community of Sustainability-Engaged Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/17203

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