Center-Wide Core Competency

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The ECSC Center Wide Core Competency (CWCC) course provides an opportunity for NOAA-ECSC students to experience both learning and application of concepts from an interdisciplinary perspective. The CWCC is an intensive, hands-on course that includes an overview of practices and approaches used in integrated science in support of coastal resource management. The course is topically based and evaluates the various demands placed on coastal systems by human uses, together with management approaches and policies for balancing these demands with ecosystem health, functionality, and resilience. Completion of the course is required for NOAA-ECSC students from all partner institutions.

The CWCC curriculum is tailored to the course location and trains students in the NOAA-ECSC focus area disciplines. The CWCC requires students to work collaboratively in stakeholder roles to complete a problem-based learning activity. In previous years the CWCC has been held at the Florida State University Marine Lab in St. Theresa Florida, and at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve located at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. The 2016 CWCC was held at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The CWCC course curriculum and activities in prior years were completed in a week-long short course. The 2016 CWCC course took a different approach; it was structured to include both a virtual component and an on-site component. The 2016 CWCC virtual and on-site faculty included both partner institution faculty members and three NOAA faculty members – Dr. Paul Pennington, Dr. Natasha White, and Cynthia Cooksey. The virtual component, conducted during July 2016, required CWCC students to view video lectures posted for specified weeks and to complete assessments for each lecture topic. Video lecture topics included an introduction to NOAA as well as focus area topics such as ecological processes, ecosystem characterization, environmental law and policy, socioeconomic processes, modeling, and property rights law. The virtual component provided the CWCC students a foundation of knowledge for active participation in the CWCC’s on-site component at the GCRL.

Twenty law, graduate, and undergraduate students from NOAA-ECSC partner institutions [Delaware State University, Florida A & M University, Jackson State University, Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi, and University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley] participated in the 2016 CWCC. During the on-site component of the course, these students engaged in boating and field experiences, laboratory work, lectures, discussions, and field trips. This year’s focus for the problem-based learning activity was Deer Island, an undeveloped island near the cities of Ocean Springs and Biloxi, Mississippi. For the problem-based learning activity, the students worked on interdisciplinary teams to develop a vision and position for the future use, conservation, and management of Deer Island from their assigned stakeholders’ perspectives. Stakeholder groups for the problem-based learning activity included the responsible state government agencies, local government, local business coalition, environmental organizations, and neighborhood citizens. This problem-based learning activity challenged the students to clearly demonstrate knowledge of the local system and to integrate what they learned from the course's focus area lectures activities in a simulated town hall experience.

The CWCC curriculum and problem-based learning activity provide CWCC students the opportunity to collaborate with students from other disciplines and institutions. This valuable experience exposes students to the interdisciplinary nature of the work of environmental professionals and the realities of addressing the challenges of coastal research management. The CWCC has become an integral component of the ECSC’s program for training NOAA-ECSC students and developing their skills related to integrated science in support of coastal resource management.

The most recent CWCC course was held in 2015.
2014 Edition of CWCC course was held in August 2014.

16 graduate students from our partner institutions participated.

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