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Home2013 AESS Workshop Descriptions
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AESS 2013 Workshop Descriptions
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

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 Afternoon Workshops:
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Interdisciplinary Resources for Social Science Environmental Health Research
Scholars and government agencies alike are increasingly recognizing that effective environmental health research requires a balance of technical and social expertise to strengthen our understanding of the causes, consequences, and approaches to solving environmental health challenges. This workshop will 1) provide tools and resources to participants interested in strengthening their environmental health research, and 2) identify what further information and resources participants need to effectively carry out Social Science Environmental Health Research (SSEHR). This workshop will provide strong footing for a publically-available online education tool being developed by the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, directed by Phil Brown at Northeastern University.

Over the course of this workshop, participants will:

  • Increase their understanding of how collaborative, interdisciplinary research approaches can strengthen their environmental health research.
  • Identify basic scientific concepts that will enhance their SSEH research.
  • Improve their understanding of the SSEHR process.
  • Identify networking resources for interdisciplinary SSEHR collaborations.
  • Identify what further information and resources they need to be able to effectively carry out SSEHR. The results of this discussion will lead to the development of further materials that will be made available via the SSEHRI website and YouTube channel.

The workshop will begin with a showcase of video snapshots from leading SSEHR experts describing how interdisciplinary SSEH approaches strengthened their research and any resulting policy impacts. Participants will then work individually and in small groups to brainstorm ways that SSEH approaches could complement their own work, and to identify a potential project idea to use as a focus point through the rest of the workshop.

Facilitators will then introduce a range of scientific concepts that form the foundation of SSEHR. Using specific environmental health case studies (e.g. lead, BPA), we will highlight key concepts such as epidemiological and toxicological methods, including non-monotonic dose response curves and differences between animal studies and human exposures to toxins, among others. Participants will again have an opportunity to work individually and in small groups to identify key concepts whose understanding would support their own work. Facilitators will provide information about further resources to help in this quest.

Next, facilitators will present a basic overview of the research process for successfully conducting SSEHR. We will begin this section with some "nuts and bolts" related to funding and IRB review, and end with information about publishing and effectively reporting results back to communities.

The workshop will conclude with a presentation of resources available for networking with other SSEHR scholars, and a large group discussion on what further tools and resources participants would like to have to support their work as they move forward.

About the facilitators:
Christine Vatovec is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Vermont's College of Medicine, and a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute under the direction of Phil Brown at Northeastern University. She will co-facilitate the workshop, and will present the social sciences perspective of collaborative Social Science Environmental Health research.

Robin Dodson is a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute with expertise in exposure assessment and indoor air pollution. She is currently working on developing innovative exposure assessment methods for cohort studies and intervention studies aimed at reducing indoor pollution. She will co-facilitate the workshop, and will present the environmental health perspective of collaborative Social Science Environmental Health research.

Christine Vatovec, University of Vermont,
Robin Dodson, Silent Spring Institut,

Getting Published: Preparing Manuscripts for Journal Submission
"This will repeat a workshop held at the last two conferences. It is intended for graduate students and young professional desiring on opportunity prepare articles and have manuscripts reviewed as they would for submission the Journal for Environmental Studies and Sciences, or other professional publication. How the workshop will be organized: Each prospective participant will be asked to submit a draft manuscript at least a month to six weeks in advance of the workshop. The manuscripts will be reviewed by the workshop organizer(s) and those submissions in satisfactory preparation will each be read by the workshop organizer(s) and at least two other workshop participants (the organizer(s) will divided the manuscripts among the participants. so that each participant will have no more than two articles to review. Before the session, the participants will be divided into small groups, each consisting of 2-4 workshop participants and a Journal editor or otherwise qualified reviewer. Each small group participant's submission will be read by the other group members in advance of the meeting. The workshop will consist of several activities:
  • a brief explanation by Lindy Paul, Springer Publication's AESS liaison, of the Editorial Manager software used for journal reviews;
  • a division into small working groups where the manuscripts will be reviewed and discussed among the members;
  • a final collective meeting to discuss issues and ideas from the review sessions.

One purpose of the workshop is to identify and encourage prospective submissions to JESS. Additionally, the workshop should help the participants to anticipate issues commonly associated with journal article reviews and to prepare their manuscripts with greater professional skill. Several editors from JESS will also participate. Grad students and young professionals will be recruited as participants from the AESS listserve.

Walter (Tony) Rosenbaum - University of Florida,
Kim Smith - Carleton College,

Using Creative Thinking to Solve Educational, Activist and Research Challenges
AESS members are researchers, activists and educators. Challenges are rife in each of these areas. Solutions based on convergent thinking – thinking that follows a logical step-by-step process to a single solution - do not always address the complexity of these problems. Creative (divergent) thinking, which follows a spontaneous and free-flowing process, can generate fresh and previously unimagined solutions. In order to address the complex challenges of AESS members, this workshop will apply creative thinking skills and exercises to help participants find innovative solutions.

Participants will:
  • Increase their creative thinking and problem solving skills
  • Learn and experience how creative thinking can impact their intellectual performance
  • Use repeatable exercises to further develop their creative thinking skills after the workshop
  • Use a repeatable creative problem solving process for finding innovative solutions to other challenges
  • Solve at least one challenge from their teaching, activism and/or research
This workshop will be structured according to Edward de Bono’s 4-phase creative thinking process:
  • Focusing
  • Generating ideas
  • Harvesting Ideas
  • Treating Ideas

In the “Focusing” phase, participants will do a series of exercises and games designed trigger creative thinking. These games will enhance a sense of place, strengthen group awareness and group collaborative connections, and trigger each individual’s creative thinking. The next 3 phases are the heart of the creative problem solving process. First, I will take the group through the process step-by-step, using one of the participant’s challenges as an example problem. Next, the group will split into smaller groups, and each group will work through the process for each group member’s challenge.

The first step of the process is idea generation. One or two exercises will be provided to help participants brainstorm, creating a free flow of ideas. In the second step, participants will “harvest” the most promising ideas for further development. These ideas will enter the “treatment” phase, which re-engages convergent thinking. Each solution’s strengths and weaknesses will be tested, and real-life constraints and available resources of the overall situation will be considered. The most promising idea or ideas will then be adjusted according to these practical considerations. Each participant should leave the workshop with at least one new solution to their challenge – a fresh solution that was derived through divergent/creative thinking, and then tested and adjusted through convergent/rational analysis.

About the faciitator:
Jennifer Joy Pawlitschek is a writer/performer and trainer. She uses creative processes both in her daily practice as an artist, and in her teaching. Interdisciplinarity is a key part of her practice, both as an artist using science in her writing/performance and as a trainer working with academic and corporate clients. The foundation of her work in both areas is translation: translating science into formats that audiences can quickly grasp, and translating artistic or theatrical principles into formats from which her corporate and academic clients can benefit.

Jennifer Joy Pawlitschek, Independent Artist and Activist

Assessment and Evaluation of Interdisciplinary Environmental Programs
Demand for program evaluation has grown dramatically, with significant resources now devoted to it. Evaluations provide feedback for program improvement, and help determine benefits from new and veteran programs. Clear articulation of the program’s mission and the related objectives and expected outcomes is critical. Correlation with the perceptions of accreditation and funding agencies can be crucial to the program’s success. The Council for Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) works to strengthen the administration of interdisciplinary environmental programs. This workshop is intended to communicate expertise and information about evaluation and assessment and share cases of best practices amongst program administrators and educators. Programs are evaluated on different levels. The easiest and least controversial level is linked to the business of running the program in a successful, efficient, and sustainable way. The workshop will introduce indicators and tools for this level of evaluation.
Programmatic assessment of interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability programs is much trickier and currently a hot topic of discussion amongst program administrators and educators. The workshop will introduce current thinking behind programmatic assessment of interdisciplinarity and share insights from CEDD surveys and CEDD members. We will look at conceptual frameworks for program design and as basis for future evaluation and benchmarking. We will use the latest findings on interdisciplinary research and teaching from the learning sciences, and the collective experience of the participants. Participants will gain an understanding of potentially useful steps, to lead in-depth evaluation of interdisciplinary environmental programs and tools for evaluating success and assessing programmatic effectiveness. We will address the cycle of connecting assessment research to programmatic practice thereby improving programs in an iterative fashion.

Antje M. F. Danielson, Tufts Institute of the Environment, Tufts University; President-elect, Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD);

Integrating Risk with Environmental Science
The workshop theme is developing a dialogue about the role risk science can play as a natural extension of faculty resesarch or of faculty curriculum in environmental sciences or studies. Many important environmental topics can be effectively framed in terms of risk (and public decision-making), particularly when the problems have elements of great uncertainty and/or the data are incomplete, unavailable or too expensive to collect/access. The science of risk (and public decision-making) promotes organizing information, illuminating critical inter-relationships and providing insight into risk management options and challenges for resolving environmental problems. Our goal is to inform participants about the following areas:
a) risk science;
b) a selection of important emerging topics in risk science that are relevant to environmental sciences and studies;
c) and opportunities for faculty and student involvement. Material will be presented and active participation from attendees will be encouraged to begin a dialogue. The workshop experience will encourage participants to think broadly about research topics, course curricula, and intra-campus links, as well as to identify areas worthy of further discussion in future CEDD meetings. See Society for Risk Analysis (SRA), and National Capital Area Chapter of SRA,

Sally M. Kane,, 202-460-3129

Tee Guidotti, Councilor, National Capital Area Chapter, Society for Risk Analysis,
Sally Kane, National Capital Area Chapter, Society for Risk Analysis,

Online education: Supplementing Your Environmental Education programs and courses with open education resources
The world of higher education is changing rapidly with new acronyms and names such as MOOCs, EdX and Coursera signaling a coming of age of open online education. This workshop introduces environmental program leaders, faculty and students to this world. We will summarize the current situation and discuss what appears to be developing for the future. We will discuss opportunities for Environmental Education programs and courses to incorporate open education resources into their curriculum. Participants are encouraged to bring examples of their activities to share with others. Participants are encouraged to view the webinar series on Online Education presented by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) and the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) in fall semester 2012. See

All participants should bring a laptop to the workshop.

John Slater, Southern New Hampshire University and Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD),

Climate Change Education: Coming to Your College Classroom
This workshop is directed towards faculty and graduate students who want to use interdisciplinary approaches to educate their students about Climate Change – its causes, consequences, solutions and opportunities for engagement. Participants will learn how to use the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation E-Learning (CAMEL) web portal to find and share high quality content and curricular resources, will be introduced to leading texts, online courses and other resources. Presentations will include Introduction to Geoengineering (Wil Burns), Earth: The Operator’s Manual, (Geoffrey Haines-Stiles, Producer) and High Tide on Main Street, John Englander, Author. Workshop participants are encouraged to bring an example of a curricular resource they use to share with others in the workshop and through CAMEL.

David Blockstein, National Council for Science and the Environment,

David Hassenzahl, Chatham University,
Andrew Jorgensen, University of Toledo,
Wil Burns, Johns Hopkins University
Geoffrey Haines-Stiles, Producer, Earth: The Operator’s Manual
John Englander, Author, High Tide on Main Street

Strengthen Leadership of Administration of Interdisciplinary Environmental and Sustainability Programs
This workshop is designed to identify common leadership challenges, evaluate commonly used tools to address these challenges, identify resources for leaders of interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability programs, and build connections between current and future leaders across the country. We will utilize a World Café style to discuss common challenges and tools, and use additional case study analyses to address not raised during the World Café. We will use the world café to focus on challenges, solutions/tools, and identifying effective resources. Our goal is to bring current and future leaders of similar programs and institutions together to share experiences and to identify common challenges, tools, and opportunities.

Participants will be expected to bring to the workshop a case study of a specific challenge to an interdisciplinary environmental/sustainability program, and also bring an example of an effective (or ineffective) response or tool meant to address that challenge. The first stage of the workshop will be to identify common challenges for our environmental/sustainability programs, including: i) setting the context of the program within the college or university setting, and promoting our own programs within our institutions, ii) being more effective in outreach to and communication and cooperation with other units; iii) addressing the logistics unique to interdisciplinary programs with respect to program growth, staffing and scheduling of courses; developing faculty, space, and other program resources; and recruiting, hiring, mentoring, evaluating and promoting faculty. Curriculum development, implementation, and assessment will not be a major focus of this workshop. The second stage will be to identify and assess tools specific to interdisciplinary programs.

Rod Parnell, Northern Arizona University,