Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Environmental Studies Service Learning


banner websiteI would like to thank Kelcie Kempenich on her candid observation on the Nelson Institute‘s capstone service learning program.  Her journalistic project Connecting Through Capstones helps communicate the values that we are trying to embrace from our community-university partnership.

Just a quick disclaimer though 🙂 since I am really hoping that I do not offend scientists in my comments captured in this project (nothing in here is anyone’s fault but mine that I might  not clearly articulate  my message).  I got nervous when I heard my recorded interview I might say stupid stuff.

When I said that scientists “have not had enough skills to communicate,” I would like to clarify that other professionals (including myself) may not have the skills that allow us to understand technical scientific information as well.  Thus, we need both, we need everyone, to collaborate.  Yes, the interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial, which has been the core goal of Nelson Institute’s education .  How to produce mutual knowledge from multiple disciplines and stakeholders through a collaborative process?

The Nelson Institute capstone is unique because we are bringing Nelson students who have other majors in their education.  Environmental Studies major is not a stand alone major and students taking this major will have other majors such as International Studies, Journalism, Communication Art, Sociology, Political Science, Community & Nonprofit Leadership, History, BioChemistry, and Civil Engineering.  Working on a community-based project in a capstone project means collaborating with a variety of perspectives and experiences and delivering what is expected by community partners.

I have to put this tweet from last night when attending a documentary screening Food Patriot.  I was lucky enough to meet again with friends from three different capstone projects that I facilitated.  Alex Schwartz was in Fall 2013 capstone when we worked on a community-based research project with the South Madison Farmers’ Market.  Ellery Graves was in Spring 2013 community-based evaluation research with The Natural Step Monona.  Abby Jackson was in Fall 2011 community organizing project with The Natural Step Monona.  Abby is returning to UW-Madison to take her Master’s program in Urban and Regional Planning, and will collaborate with me in a partnership with the South Madison Farmers’s Market.