ERIC Number: EJ1003706
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 37
The Contribution of Systems Analysis to Training Students in Cognitive Interdisciplinary Skills in Environmental Science Education
Fortuin, K. P. J.; van Koppen, C. S. A.; Kroeze, C.
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, v3 n2 p139-152 Jun 2013
Professionals in the environmental domain require cognitive interdisciplinary skills to be able to develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems. We demonstrate that education in environmental systems analysis allows for the development of these skills. We identify three components of cognitive interdisciplinary skills: (1) the ability to understand environmental issues in a holistic way, taking into account the interplay of social and biophysical dynamics; (2) the ability to connect both the analysis of environmental problems and the devising of solutions with relevant disciplinary knowledge and methodologies; and (3) the ability to reflect on the role of scientific research in solving societal problems. Environmental systems analysis provides tools, methods, and models to assist in framing complex environmental issues in a holistic way and facilitates the integration of disciplines. Systems analysis also supports reflection by making students aware that a system always represents a simplified model and a particular perspective. Through the analysis of a collection of bachelor of science students' "reflection papers", we identify two major challenges in teaching these cognitive skills: (1) to train students to not just follow a systematic approach but acquire a systemic view and (2) to train students to be reflexive about systems analysis and the role of science. We recommend that training in cognitive skills starts early in a study program.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Environmental Education, Teaching Methods, Thinking Skills, Interdisciplinary Approach, Sustainability, Scientific Research, Role, Problem Solving, Social Problems, Holistic Approach, Biophysics, Knowledge Level, Intellectual Disciplines, Systems Analysis, Content Analysis, Environment, Reflection, Content Area Writing, College Science, College Students
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A