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INNOVATIVE PUBLIC EDUCATION PROGRAMS – COMBINING SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES TO ACHIEVE A HOLISTIC UNDERSTANDING OF WATER ISSUES

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In an initiative to expand its educational programs, the Spartanburg Water System/Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District (SWS/SSSD) partnered with faculty members from Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) to design and implement a new learning community (LC) for freshman students. The LC, titled “The Nature and Culture of Water,” links two first-year general education courses, a science course for non-science majors, and a humanities seminar course. Water is used as the thematic link to integrate the disciplines and engage students in a deeper exploration of the issues surrounding local, regional, and global water resources.

SWS/SSSD, who provided funding, achieved a number of agency objectives with the partnership, including targeting an age group that previous public education programs had not reached (i.e., traditional-age college students), educating people about water quality from a broader (i.e., interdisciplinary) perspective, and indirectly expanding their educational outreach to children via a service learning project that the undergraduates planned and executed as part of the LC curriculum.

This unique partnership between SWS/SSSD and Wofford College has been mutually rewarding for both institutions. Students have demonstrated an appreciation of integrated learning methods and a deeper understanding of water resources, SWS/SSSD employees have been invigorated by the opportunity to share their expertise with college students, and elected water and wastewater commissioners and Wofford administrators have seen the power of the partnership to build bridges of learning between an academic institution and the surrounding community.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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