Longwood University’s effort to promote transdisciplinary education through the Longwood at Yellowstone National Park (YNP) project will be examined in a campus presentation.
A Faculty Colloquium on "Exploring Citizenship through a Transdisciplinary Lens" will be given Tuesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Chichester G12 by Dr. Carl Riden, associate professor of sociology. Other faculty and staff members of the YNP team also will speak at the event.
"For our students to be active participants in finding solutions to such difficult issues as sustainability and social justice, they must be provided appropriate tools. Transdisciplinary education—a global initiative developed to provide such tools—provides a framework for understanding what we do at the Longwood at Yellowstone Project," said Riden, a member of the YNP team for six years.
About 40 students participate annually in the YNP, of which the major component is a General Education capstone course that integrates students’ disciplinary knowledge and general education experience with diverse faculty and staff perspectives to explore issues related to the stewardship of public lands within the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The course grew out of Longwood’s involvement with the Stewardship of Public Lands initiative of the American Democracy Project.
"The Yellowstone project focuses on the issues of citizenship and democratic participation and confronts resource management from a transdisciplinary perspective," said Riden. "It has been at the vanguard of bringing to campus a new approach that examines problems using disciplinary knowledge but also incorporates perspectives that develop between disciplines, across different disciplines and that go beyond disciplines. It is a powerful experience for faculty, staff, and students.
"The Yellowstone project is more than just a trip out West. It is an opportunity for personal, professional and scholarly growth for all who participate. It’s a lot of work—throughout the year—but it’s so worth it. It’s the best thing I do."
Students in the program head out to Jackson, Wyo., in May shortly after Commencement, and there is also online work during the first summer school session. This year, for the first time, there also will be three days of face-to-face coursework during Senior Week.
Riden and other members of the YNP team have presented papers and posters on the Yellowstone curriculum at several national and international conferences, including a conference in India in January 2012.