Education, Social Ecology, And Urban Ecosystems, With Examples From Baltimore, Maryland (presentation)

HINSON, KAREN E., J. Morgan Grove, and Robert J. Northrop

We propose that a social ecology approach must meet four criteria in order for teachers to adopt it in their existing curriculum. A social ecology approach to the study of urban ecosystems must 1) relate to a teacher's subject matter; 2) be an integral component of their existing curriculum framework; 3) prepare students for achievement in district, state, and national assessments; and 4) be relevant to students' lives while producing significant and enduring learning. We use the activities of Karen Hinson, her students' 11th grade Advanced Placement United States History Course (1998-1999), and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) as an example to demonstrate the incorporation and application of a social ecology approach in an education context. As part of the students' year-long project, and in partnership with the Forest Services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the United States Department of Agriculture, the students were assigned to apply skills learned from their existing curriculum--both knowledge (information) and performance (analytical)--to understanding the social history, current status, and future trends of the development of the City of Baltimore's drinking water supply.