Public Science Courses, Fall 2021

Citizen Science: Understanding the Participatory Sciences

Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:45-1:00
Caren Cooper (

This class is open to graduate students and upper-level undergraduate students interested in citizen science and similar forms of public engagement in science. Students will learn through readings, class discussions, and public conversations via various forms of social media. The objectives are for students to:
1. Recognize varied approaches to participatory sciences. Students will become familiar with differences among the participatory sciences. Students will be able to reference key literature about different styles, designs, names, and goals of participatory sciences.
2. Critique citizen science and other participatory sciences. Students will be able to explain the strengths and weaknesses of different designs, including fluency with ethical, legal, social, and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) considerations of participatory sciences in real-world situations.
3. Appreciate varied expertise that multiple disciplines bring to citizen science and other participatory sciences. Students will gain exposure to the disciplines involved in advancing participatory sciences, including the fields of social science, education, critical geography, science and technology studies, science communication, ecology, public health, volunteer management, and more.

Evaluation of Learning in Informal Contexts

EMS 594; In-person (Section 002) or Distance (Section 602)
Mondays 4:30-7:15pm
K.C. Busch (

In this Special Topics course, we will seek an answer to the question: How do we know if learning has occurred in informal contexts? To answer this question, we will engage with strategies used to evaluate learning in informal contexts. We will practice evaluation techniques with real case studies. The main focus of the coursework will involve collaborative projects working with community partners who offer informal learning programs. Examples of possible community partners are the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC Museum of Art, NC Museum of History, NC Farmer’s Market, and NCSU Libraries.

Human Behavior and the Environment

PRT 550
Th 1:30-4:15pm
Lincoln Larson (

This course helps students understand the variety of cognitive, social, affective, and environmental factors that influence human behavior in natural resource contexts, with an emphasis on nature-based recreation experiences and conservation behaviors. Students will explore behavioral models from different disciplines, examine pathways to promote behavior change, and assess implications for park management, environmental stewardship, and natural resource conservation.

Children & Nature

PRT 595-005
Tuesday 1:30-4:15, in person, with online synchronous option
Kathryn Stevenson (

In recent decades, there has been an explosion of research around the benefits of nature, supporting measures of happiness, health, attention spans, social cohesion, and others. In parallel to these studies on how nature benefits people (especially children), work has emerged on how children may also be good for nature. Children are leading global movements to combat climate change, becoming civically active to ensure access to nature for all, and proving to be an avenue to bring even the most politically divided communities together to work toward a sustainable future. In this course, students will gain an overview of this rapidly growing literature, meet some of the researchers behind it, and find ways to contribute to it. Perspectives of graduate students from natural resources, education, landscape architecture, or others who are interested in exploring how nature can benefit kids and kids can benefit nature are most welcome.

Filming in a Time of Emergency: Socio-Environmental Crisis and Alternative Futures Through Film

FL 495 – ENG 492
M-W 4:30-5:45pm
Jorge MarĂ­ (

This course proposes a conversation on world cinemas and TV in the context of the ongoing socio-environmental emergency and the global systemic collapse. We will discuss whether and how films, filmmakers, critics, and scholars worldwide have responded to, reflected on, or represented the socio-environmental emergency; how they have envisioned the future of their regions, of human civilization and of the planet; how they have (or have not) used the medium to teach the public and to promote social-environmental-political change. Above all, we will consider how futuristic films may serve as agents of subversion, resistance, and enlightenment. A variety of film & TV genres will be considered, including fiction and non-fiction, from sci-fi to horror, action-adventure, disaster, fantasy, and comedy. Students taking the course as FL 495 will have ample opportunities to explore films from the Iberian and Latin American regions.