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Grand Challenge

Grand Challenge Project

After completing two of these disciplinary case studies, students will be brought together to help address a "Grand Challenge" question in interdisciplinary teams. Each of the two sections have chosen a Grand Challenge question, which teams of students will answer with projects that synthesize their learning in the two case studies, and bring together the expertise of students in diverse teams. The two questions to address are these:

EVOLUTION: What are some likely future adaptations of organisms and communities to the anthropocene?

REVOLUTION: Design a New Disruptive Innovation that can be used to deal with one of the consequences of global climate change. 

Each of the two courses will divide into teams of four students to provide an array of answers to these urgent questions during the last three weeks of the semester. Students will conduct their own research, which may include library and database analysis, as well as field visits and interviews with leading experts in their area of choice. The instructor teams will provide a menu of possible experimental and field efforts, and also will solicit students to invent their own investigations to help answer these questions. The teams of students will present their results to their peers and their instructors in a poster fair on November 24, 2015. Copies of these posters will be placed on a web site, and used to help solve some of the most pressing environmental, technical and scientific problems of the day.

Details on Staging of the Grand Challenge Project

1). Our Foundations of Science Grand Challenge will begin on November 6. You will be pre-assigned to a team of toward the end of next week. These teams will be designed mix a diverse group of students from each of the four sections in each theme as much as possible. These teams are realistic simulations of the kind of research collaborations that arise in government, academic and business environments.

2). On November 6 you will meet during class time in the Auditorium with your team of four sitting together. A short framing talk will be given by our FOS teaching faculty. Then you will begin brainstorming and outlining your research program together, and by the end of the class will have a short 1-minute summary of your project. (Your team should also be emailing and discussing this before class as well). Faculty will circulate and advise you in the class, to provide a dynamic and lively environment in which you can refine your idea.  At the end, each team of four will have one minute to present a very short version of their grand challenge question/research program to the auditorium.

3). Over the subsequent holiday and weekend, your team will craft your idea into a feasible research plan. You are encouraged to come to faculty office hours for consultations, and will be required to produce a research project proposal that will help answer the Grand Challenge Question.  This proposal should include the specific research question you hope to ask, a plan for gathering data to answer the question, citations to specific literature, and a timeline for any field work, or experiments you hope to conduct.

4). On 13 November our class will again convene in the large classroom. Students will sign up for consultations with two faculty members who will meet with them in our respective FOS classrooms. The teams will be required to present their proposals and consult with two faculty who will evaluate their research plans and provide specific feedback. Your team will then upload a modified proposal by 15 November, and begin your research and assemble resources for your poster.

5). On 20 November we will meet again in the large classroom for final instructions on the projects, and you will be able to work in the room on their projects.

6). The Foundations of Science Grand Challenge Poster fair is on 24 November, during our class times, with all of the Revolution teams and Evolution teams presenting to their peers and all the professors at their regular time. Students will be required to participate both as a presenter in their regular time, and as an audience member at the other time. Faculty will judge those posters.

7). The best posters will be shown to a select VIP audience on 25 November, with students + media present for interviews.

More information on the requirements for the posters, including a grading rubric, will be circulated in the coming weeks.

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