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Rogers, Pfaff, Hamilton, and Erkan publish "Incorporating Sustainability and 21st-Century Problem Solving into Physics Courses" in The Physics Teacher.
Contributed by Jill Ackerman on 09/16/2013
As educators we are facing an unprecedented challenge to prepare our students not only for traditional careers but also for future careers that don't exist today.
Many of these careers will require a firm grounding in disciplines such as physics, along with multidisciplinary, Global, and systems thinking skill sets. Our Multidisciplinary Sustainability Education (MSE) project is addressing this challenge by creating sustainability-themed modules where a variety of courses in a range of disciplines tackle relevant, real-world problems from each discipline's perspective. Each course involved in a module, which addresses an overarching question, has students write technical reports, using their discipline knowledge to address the question, and they are expected to read and synthesize reports from other discipline-based courses. This paper discusses one of our modules, “What Are the Current and Future Impacts of Global Climate Change on Polar Bears?” and how students studying thermal physics can help answer this question.