Grant to support citizenship learning community

By Sami Godowsky
October 30, 2008

Cabrini has recently been awarded a $92,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to support the project “Collaborative Research-Watershed Citizenship Learning Community.”

“Collaborative Research-Watershed Citizenship Learning Community” focuses on doing biological stream monitoring studies on Crabby Creek, a tributary

to Valley Creek, which flows through Valley Forge Park.

It also involves understanding community, environmental practices and environmental awareness.

Cabrini is partnering with the Valley Creek Restoration Partnership, a non-profit environmental organization.

“Valley Creek Restoration Partnership is made up of concerned individuals that are passionate about protecting the greater Valley Creek watershed and its headwaters such as Crabby Creek,” Dr. David Dunbar, biology professor, said.

The project is directed by Cabrini faculty members: Dunbar, Dr. Melissa Terlecki, psychology professor, Dr. Caroline Nielsen, biology professor and Dr. Susan Gill, education director of the Stroud Water Research Center.So how will this benefit students at Cabrini?

“It will benefit Cabrini students in many ways such as involving them in community-based research, understanding how to do stream science studies, how different disciplines like psychology and biology can come together to solve environmental problems,” Dunbar said.

The two-year grant, which begins in February 2009, funds faculty course development, classroom supplies and student assistants for two courses, Environmental Citizenship and Watershed Ecology.

“The students in these two courses will be involved in a learning community, so they will develop skills in working collaboratively.

They will also learn about how all the components of a watershed-hydrological, biological,geological, chemical and social/cultural-fit together and influence one another,” Nielsen said. Members from the Stroud Water Research Center will teach parts of both courses as well. Stroud is an institute that educates people on watershed issues and ways one can improve local watershed quality by practicing watershed principles.

These courses offer students great opportunities and hands-on experiences.

“Students will gain expertise in research methods from a social science perspective and better understand the catalysts behind human choices and behavior, especially
as it relates to the environment,” Terlecki said.

Sami Godowsky

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