Interdisciplinary Curricula and Course Projects

Curricular models for successful interdisciplinary teaching are the centerpiece of the SAIL project. The Mediterranean Trivium project and other SAIL seminars have developed syllabi, course modules, and lesson plans as an open educational resource for faculty members who are working to offer rich liberal arts education experiences for their students, aiding  their ability to do multidisciplinary work.  Approaches to assessment of education effectiveness and student  learning in respect to multidisciplinary learning are a component of each contribution. All strive to identify concrete learning goals that can be easily assessed.

ACM documents provided to SAIL teams:

Letter, Designing and Submitting Curricular Proposals

SAIL_Curricular Project Submission Template

Interdisciplinary learning rubric_HJacobs

Curricula and modules for interdisciplinary inquiry and learning in courses:

1. Curriculum: Italy and the Mediterranean: Earth, Sea, and Culture

The international course examines the interrelationship between the occupants of the Italian Peninsula and the Peninsula’s distinctive landscape, geology, and ecology.  It focuses on the influence of nature on how people lived in the ancient, Renaissance, and modern periods, and how people perceived and tried to manage nature.  Sites for study include Rome and Florence, the Bay of Naples and Venice, with additional short visits to the Maremma in southern Tuscany, Pisa, and Orvieto.   By examining three time periods that can be ‘read’ and retrieved from a common physiographic and urban setting (e.g. Rome, or Venice), the course seeks to provide the means for students to experience the scholarly excitement that derives from intellectual exploration, synthesis and integration,  and thereby to instill a passion for interdisciplinary inquiry.  Link to Curricular Plan.

A. Example module: The arithmetic of distance. Contributed by Susan Ashley, Colorado College.                      This module examines the relativity of distance.  How big is the Mediterranean?  Its size can be measured, and the size rendered in numbers….  but size also depends on perception and experience.  This was especially true for peoples that did not employ sophisticated tools for measuring distance.

B. Example module:  Platform for Interdisciplinary Inquiry – GIS: Putting ‘place,’ ‘space,’ and humanity into a shared frame of reference. Contributed by C. Siddoway, Colorado College.
The purpose of this activity is to explore uses of geospatial software for academic inquiry, using examples from diverse disciplinary perspectives and cultural standpoints. First-time users will gain direct experience with GIS as a powerful investigation tool and data management resource that is undergoing rapid expansion as a platform for interdisciplinary research.

2.  Interdisciplinary Learning Module:  Rivers in Space and Time – A comparative study with digital posters. Contributed by Mary Savina, Carleton College.  This module examines maps as human constructs that portray features in relationship to each other for specific purposes, for example, to show the position of Mediterranean cities in relation to Jerusalem or Mecca (as the keystones of particular religions), or to represent  relationships between stations in a subway system.  Maps which show particular features, such as a river, in a time sequence, may be useful in discerning how that river has changed with time.  In order to use maps in such a way, the historical reasons for the maps must be understood. Supporting materials:       Rivers in Space and Time _ digital poster assignment

Rubric for grading digital posters in Geomorphology

3. Catastrophe and Apocalypse in Pompeii. A nine- session module designed for use in individually-taugh 200-level courses at St. Olaf College. The material is being used for a January interim course, Imagining Urban Ecologies, by Professor Mary Trull; for Classical Political Thought by Professor Doug Casson, and Apocalypse and Disaster in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds by Professor Nancy Thompson.  The resource is of course well-suited for courses taught abroad in Italy, as well!  Link to a folder containing eight documents.

4. Multidimensional Ethical Dilemmas: Sacred & Commoditized Water in Atacama. [Coming soon.] Contributed by Anita Carrasco and Beth Lynch, Luther College.  Water is sacred and is honored in ritual fashion by most indigenous poeples. Such is the case for the For native Atacameño people of Chile, who engage in an annual canal cleaning ceremony that secures the well-being of the community and the environment. The sacred view is not honored by the nation-state that defines water in legal terms and treats it as a commodity.  In this activity students will be asked to collect and record field observations in the setting of river history and contemporary industries of mining and tourism, drawing upon diverse academic and cultural standpoints. Module:  Social Impacts of Tourism in San Pedro de Atacama.

5. American Transcendentalists. Contributed by Peter Balaam, Carleton College. [Coming soon.]  Attempts to discern the spirit of the nineteenth-century, Emerson says, come down to a “practical question of the conduct of life.  How shall I live?” This interdisciplinary course investigates the works of the American Transcendentalist movement in its restless discontent with the conventional, its eclectic search for better ways of thinking and living. It engages students with the major works of Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman and others alongside documents of the scientific, religious, and political changes that shaped their era and provoked their responses.

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