Coming to a Wisconsin community near you this summer: New sustainability initiatives. Or perhaps, Shakespeare. All part of the second-annual Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowships.
The WOECF, now in its second year, challenges undergraduate students at UW-Madison to work with community partners outside of the university to develop a community project in a Wisconsin town that the student has a connection to. For summer 2016, four projects (three individual projects and one partner project) were awarded funding and support.
This summer, projects will address climate change, youth sustainability education, literature education and sustainable transportation in three different Wisconsin communities: Oshkosh, Milwaukee and Monona.
Projects must be designed around the content provided in one of six massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by the UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies during the 2015-16 academic year. Each fellow will receive a $3,000 stipend and up to $1,000 for project expenses.
Throughout the duration of the fellowship, each student will work to implement their project with a UW-Madison faculty mentor and a community partner organization. Fellows were required to work with both their community partner and faculty mentor from the beginning of the project design, although for most fellows, they have known and been working with both their mentor and their community partner for much longer.
Community partners will also receive $1,000 for participating in the fellowship, with UW-Madison faculty/staff mentors receiving $1,000 as well. The WOECF is a collaboration of the Division of Continuing Studies, Educational Innovation, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Addressing Local and Regional Climate Change at Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Student: Ethan Heyrman
Hometown: De Pere, Wisconsin
MOOC Topic: Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region
Faculty Mentor: John Williams, Geography
Community Partner: Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Project Location: Monona, Wisconsin
Ethan Heyrman, a sophomore studying geophysics as well as atmospheric and oceanic sciences, will be working with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center (ALNC) in Monona, Wisconsin. ALNC provides hands-on experiences with nature for children, their families and teachers, including educational exhibits on topics related to climate change. During his fellowship, Ethan will update and expand these materials and exhibits to help visitors better understand the consequences (both short and long-term) of climate change in and around Wisconsin. The project is motivated by Ethan’s recognition that the effects of climate change are often publicly described as complex and part of a distant, uncertain future.
In order to enhance visitors’ understanding of the short-term, local effects of changing temperatures, Ethan’s project will proceed in three phases. First, Ethan will revise existing climate change exhibits at ALNC to help visitors better understand the technical ways in which scientists measure global temperature change and its consequences. Second, Ethan will construct two interactive models of local environments (including ice cover on Lake Mendota) to demonstrate the effects of climate change in Wisconsin. Third, Ethan will help visitors see the results of a changing climate firsthand by creating a preliminary version of a “digital docent tour” of ALNC grounds. Using QR codes that can be scanned by their own smartphones, visitors will be able to embark on a self-guided tour, adding select audiovisual and text content to their experience. Ethan’s work will therefore enduringly enhance ALNC’s efforts to educate Wisconsin residents on the local effects of climate change.
Student: Grace Subat
Hometown: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
MOOC Topic: Shakespeare in the Community
Faculty Mentor: Karen Britland, English
Community Partner: Oshkosh Community Players
Project Location: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Grace Subat, a freshman majoring in history and vocal performance, will work with the Oshkosh Community Players and the Oshkosh Area School District to encourage local students to read, discuss, and perform the works of William Shakespeare. Motivated by the joint recognition of funding challenges facing many arts programs in the state and her own positive experience with theater as a high school student in the area, Grace’s project will create a weekly workshop in which students can experience Shakespeare’s work in multiple ways. Participation in the workshops will be open to all students in the area, with slots filled on a first come, first serve basis.
During each session students will read, discuss, and perform for one another prominent selections from corners of the Bard’s canon that students may not have previously encountered, including Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello. Grace and members of the Oshkosh Community Players will encourage students to consider how the themes in each play apply to their own lives. Students will also be encouraged to make dramatic theater an important part of their lives. The workshops will culminate with a public performance of some of the scenes the students had rehearsed. The performances will be used as both a fundraiser for local arts programs as well as a statement about the importance of supporting theater efforts in local schools.
Monona Sustainable Transportation: Building Community Engagement
Student: Maria Castillo
Hometown: Bucaramanga, Colombia
Project Title: Monona Sustainable Transportation: Building Community Engagement
MOOC Topic: Climate Change and Public Health Policy
Faculty Mentor: Carolina Sarmiento, Civil Society & Community Studies
Community Partner: Monona Sustainability Committee
Project Location: Monona, Wisconsin
Maria Castillo, a junior environmental studies major, will be working with the Monona Sustainability Committee in Monona, Wisconsin. The committee, part of UW-Madison’s UniverCity Year program, works to create a shared, forward looking culture of sustainable and active transportation in the Monona area. Maria will complement the committee’s efforts by better mapping existing needs and interests among local stakeholders. After an initial meeting with city and committee officials, Maria will create and manage an inventory of local individuals, nonprofit groups, and businesses interested in the project. Once these actors have been identified, Maria will organize and facilitate a series of focus groups to allow their voices to be a part of the broader planning process in the area. These discussions will allow Maria and the committee to better understand the existing transportation culture as well as how they can most effectively and efficiently seek to improve it.
This process will also allow the committee to create important partnerships with related organizations such as the Wisconsin Bike Federation. In addition to these organizational efforts, Maria will also help coordinate the committee’s marketing. She will take a lead role in producing public service announcements targeting local youth, enhancing and expanding the committee’s social media presence and creating a series of outreach events to help Monona residents know about and embrace sustainable transportation options. In general, Maria’s efforts will also fill a key gap during the summer in which several other student-based resources in the UniverCity Year program will be limited due to the absence of related courses.
Young Sustainable Scientists Club
Student: Katherine Piel and Natalie Hogan
Hometowns: Piel – Wauwatosa, Hogan – Shorewood
Project Title: Young Sustainable Scientists Club
MOOC Topic: Climate Change Policy and Public Health
Faculty Mentor: Cathy Middlecamp, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Community Partner: Urban Ecology Center
Project Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Katherine Piel, a freshman majoring in environmental studies and communication arts, and Natalie Hogan, a freshman majoring in dietetics and Spanish, will be working with the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their fellowship work will center on enhancing the sustainable food components of UEC’s weekly science and nature-based after school program. The program currently provides weekly activities for local elementary school children to grow, cook, and eat healthy produce. Piel and Hogan will expand this experience for the students by providing them with hands-on, educational experiences about the broader environmental impacts that our food choices can have.
This information will help the students connect concepts of climate change and public health in at least three ways. First, students will be encouraged to become more thoughtful consumers of foods. Piel and Hogan will create lessons that demonstrate how the production of different types of food are closely interconnected and how students can independently identify products that are least stressful on the planet and society. Second, students will be taught additional gardening and cooking skills that allow them to improve the quality of their own diets. This effort will include visits to sustainable agriculture resources in the area. Third, students will be encouraged to be leaders in their own families, helping their parents and siblings make healthier, more sustainable food choices. Students will be provided with informational packets about sustainable food options in the Milwaukee area and will practice sharing these materials with others. Piel and Hogan thus hope to foster among these students an enduring commitment to improving the health of themselves and those around them through more nutritious and sustainable dietary choices.