International Educator - November/December 2014 - 41

LAKESIDE TECHNICAL COLLEGE

A program in Belize involving renewable energy and ecology studies combines students from three community colleges.

Indeed, Kaufmann, Nelson, and Woods are currently
working on plans for future interdisciplinary courses that
include international experiences. "We continue to be enthusiastic about the opportunities for providing students
with experiential education in other countries and cultures,"
Kaufmann says.
One of the benefits for students of these kinds of
courses is that they become exposed to topics that might
not have been covered if they had been in a more traditional class solely focused on one discipline. They are also
exposed to different theoretical approaches or interpretations of the same thing. "Let's say there is a spring that
is regarded as sacred, or a trance ritual-something that
students have never experienced before, something that
faculty have different theoretical perspectives on," Nelson
says. "There's tremendous value in giving students the
respect and space to be thoughtful about their responses,
and in modeling for them the faculty members' respect
for the culture and for each other's differing responses
and perspectives. Respect is key to the study abroad experience: for the culture, for students, for faculty, and
between all of these."

Creating Multidisciplinary Classes:
How Do You Begin?
There are myriad ways in which multidisciplinary classes
evolve. In the case of the environmental studies class at
USD, the course grew out of an interdisciplinary faculty

development workshop that was sponsored by the institution's Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought
and Culture. "That workshop took place in the Dominican Republic, and Lance Nelson and I both participated,
along with a number of other colleagues from USD," says
Kaufmann. The theme of the workshop was "Sustainability, Eco-Theology, and Eco-Justice," and the participants
included faculty members from a number of disciplinary
backgrounds. "During our trip, we had an opportunity
to read and discuss concepts that bridged the intersections between religion, sustainability (environmental,
economic, social, political, etc.), and justice, among other
concepts," Kaufmann says. "I was struck by the richness
of our discussions, and especially the benefits of talking
about those issues from multiple points of view."
The workshop motivated him to include two additional
elements-religious tradition, "which can have an enormous influence on how people view the environment",
and the contrast between developed and developing nations-in a new course he envisioned. He discussed his
idea with Nelson and Woods, and they decided to develop
a course together that would include a consideration of
environmental issues from multiple perspectives-primarily science, religion, and justice. "We also wanted to
include an explicit comparison between developed and
developing nations, and that is why we decided to incorporate a trip to the Dominican Republic during spring
break," Kaufmann explains.
N O V + D E C .14 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR

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