This module was very special to me, because it was my last new module at NUS, and it was the first one I had to co-design and co-teach. A lot of distressing things happened at the Department during this semester, so getting in class and teaching this module felt like having a refuge from all the administrative & bureaucratic madness surrounding us. The seminars were scheduled right after the usual Departmental meeting time-slot, which during this particular semester, were always bringing bad news, multiple rounds of bad news.
Just before the teaching started, I was also told that I have to go through peer-evaluation ASAP, so the results can be used for my contract renewal assessment (peer-evaluation from start to end of the process takes few months!). To go through such peer-evaluation, one has to first prepare the so-called “module folder”, including information on the module, student feedback (if any), example of lecturing material, as well as assignments, and some assessment about strengths and challenges. The main part of the peer-evaluation is when two colleagues (internal and external to the Geography department) visited my first seminar to assess how I am doing. Based on my performance during the seminar observation and the module folder, my colleagues prepared an evaluation report. Both the module folder and the evaluation report can be found at the bottom of this blog post. When I go through these materials (2 years later), I am thinking I could have been more relaxed during teaching, and a bit more grown-up, maybe… but that is in the past. Perhaps my peer-evaluation materials will help someone else, and if not, I will just have them permanently archived here.
- graduate module (5000 level)
- offered by Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at National University of Singapore (NUS)
- held once per week; seminar duration 3 h (actual 2.5 h),
- 100% Continuous Assessment (CA), i.e. no final exam
- class-size: 13 students (max 20)
- co-teaching and module re-design with Dr. Winston Chow
- this version of the module was used in Sem. 1 of academic year (AY) 2018/2019
This module introduces techniques through which dynamic environmental conditions can be measured and monitored and provides a basis for reasoned debates about issues related to environmental change. Students following the module can expect to be tutored in a number of techniques that may include (depending upon expertise of staff who are available to teach the module) geomorphic hazard mapping, micro‐meteorology, palaeoecology and remote sensing. The module goes on to discuss the implications to humans of past and present environmental dynamism and of predicted environmental changes. Among the topics for student‐led discussions in this part of the module are the dialectic of global climate change; the contribution of urban areas to global climate change; possible relationships between biodiversity and environmental instability; and inequalities in the degree of human vulnerability. A seminar
presentation focusing on the relevance of the module to their thesis or on thesis topic is expected. (copy/paste from CORS)
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Critically engage in discussion on globally, regionally, and locally relevant topics on Dynamic Environments
- Position their own research interests and methods within the frameworks of Dynamic Environments
- Communicate academic activities/events to the general public via blog/vlog post
- Design & present an academic poster based on a student‐defined group project
Seminar‐style sessions (weeks 1‐5, 13), group‐activities & student‐led sessions (weeks 6, 7, 11, 12), field‐trips (weeks 8, 9, 10). Students were expected to prepare and participate actively in discussions. More information was provided in the introductory lecture during week 1.
The lecturer-led seminars in week 1 and 4 were lead by Dr. Winston Chow (WC), while the seminars in week 3, 5 and 13 were lead by me (DV).
|Week 1||Intro to module
(WC): History and overview of environmental science/physical geography
|Week 2||Hari Raya Haji holiday|
|Week 3||(DV): Abrupt ecosystem changes and disturbance hydrology|
|Week 4||(WC): Methods and techniques in climatology|
|Week 5||(DV): Socio‐hydrology, hydrosocial research & water science in the Anthropocene|
|Week 6||Students present on how their research fits within Dynamic Environments module/framework||Submit presentation|
|Week 7||Brainstorming group‐projects on Dynamic Environments|
|Week 8||NEWater Visitor Centre (guided group field trip)|
|Week 9||Marina Barrage Sustainable Singapore Gallery (guided group field trip)||[Submit field report]|
|Week 10||Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (self-guided, individual/group field trip)||[Submit field report]|
|Week 11||Gap week (poster preparation session)||[Submit field report]|
|Week 12||Academic poster presentations (group‐projects)||Submit poster|
|Week 13||Module wrap‐up + cake/candy 🙂|
Assessment & assignments
Continuous assessment: 100% (no final exam)
Research presentation (individual assessment) (30%)
- How does your research (current or past) fit into the broad topic of Dynamic Environments?
- 10‐15 min presentation (to be determined based on student number)
- Grading based on content (how well it fits the assignment), presentation skills (effective communication), peer‐evaluation
Blog OR Vlog field report (individual assessment) (30%)
- Your blog/vlog post should address the question “How did the field trip relate to the module topic (Dynamic Environments)?” and should contain personal reflection elements
- It should be an example of effective communication with target audience “the general public”
- You have full creative freedom: you can chose to write a blog post OR to prepare a vlog; you can include maps, graphs, illustrations, photos, etc. (+ video footage for the vlog)
- Word/time limit:
- blog: max 1000 words, first person
- vlog: minimum 3 min, maximum 5 min long
- Due a week after selected field trip (e.g. if you chose to report based on week 8 field trip, your blog/vlog is due in week 9)
Academic poster & poster presentation of group projects (40%)
- Group‐defined project topic within the broad Dynamic Environments framework
- Group‐work (2‐4 students) (to be determined based on student number)
- Grading based on the poster, poster presentation & peer‐evaluation
Additional grading details
- Presentations (poster/oral) grading: We used the criteria & scoring sheet for the “Outstanding Student Presentation Award” (OSPA) that both of us have used in past American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meetings.
- Blog/Vlog rubric or details on grading criteria (will be uploaded to IVLE in due time)
- Peer‐evaluation: all students will fill‐in IVLE survey forms based on the OSPA form (see revised form in next folder section). We will compile, anonymize, and send to each group/student the relevant peer feedback.
- Further information was provided in week 1
Reading materials and slides
Prepared and led by Dr. Winston Chow
Readings on history and overview on environmental science/physical geography:
- Ashmore, P., & Dodson, B. (2017). Urbanizing physical geography. The Canadian Geographer, 61(1), 102‐106.
- Brazel, A. J. (2017). Urban climate and physical geography: A response to Ashmore and Dodson. The Canadian Geographer, 61(1), 112‐116.
- Pitman, A. J. (2005). On the role of geography in earth system science. Geoforum, 36(2), 137‐148.
- Ruddiman, W. F. (2018). Three flaws in defining a formal ‘Anthropocene’. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment
- Weart, S. R. (2010). The idea of anthropogenic global climate change in the 20th century. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1(1), 67‐81.
Prepared and led by me (DV)
Readings on Ecosystem changes and Hydrology:
- Ratajczak et al. (2018): Abrupt Change in Ecological Systems: Inference and Diagnosis (Review) in Trends in Ecology & Evolution
- Seidl et al. (2017) Forest disturbances under climate change (Review) in Nature Climate Change
- Ummenhofer & Meehl (2017) Extreme weather and climate events with ecological relevance: a review in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Biological sciences)
- Only Sections 2,3,5 of Mirus et al (2017) Disturbance Hydrology: Preparing for an Increasingly Disturbed Future (Commentary) in Water Resources Research
Prepared and led by Dr. Winston Chow
Readings on methods and techniques in climatology:
- Oke, T. R. (1988). The urban energy balance. Progress in Physical Geography, 12(4), 471‐508.
- Oke, T. R. (2006). Instruments and observing methods: Report No. 81: initial guidance to obtain representative meteorological observations at urban sites. World Meteorological Organization, WMO/TD (1250), 51.
- Stewart, I. D., & Oke, T. R. (2012). Local climate zones for urban temperature studies. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 93(12), 1879‐1900.
- Weart, S. R. (2018). The Discovery of Global Warming: General Circulation Models. Harvard University Press.
Prepared and led by me (DV)
Readings on Socio‐hydrology, hydrosocial research, and water science in the Anthropocene:
- Sivapalan, Savenije, and Blöschl (2011) Socio‐hydrology: A new science of people and water in Hydrological Processes
- Savenije, Hoekstra, and van der Zaag (2014) Evolving water science in the Anthropocene in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
- Linton & Budds (2014) The hydrosocial cycle: Defining and mobilizing a relational dialectical approach to water in Geoforum
- Wesselink, Kooy, and Warner (2016) Socio‐hydrology and hydrosocial analysis: toward dialogues across disciplines in WIREs Water