Beyond the science: students’ reflections on cultural differences during a physical geography course integrating students from Purdue University and Stockholm University

Authors: Jonathan Harbor*, Purdue University
Topics: Geography Education
Keywords: Geography Education, Cultural Learning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A1, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geography educators have traditionally emphasized the importance of experiential learning through field study, both domestically and abroad. In addition to core disciplinary knowledge, such experiences can provide rich opportunities for students to learn more about other cultures, and thus develop new perspectives on their own cultural norms. Purdue University (USA) and Stockholm University (Sweden) have worked together to create a collaborative course in paleoglaciology that involves students from both universities learning together online, in a lab setting, and in field locations in southern Sweden. Purdue senior undergraduate and graduate students learn initial content through online modules, then travel to Sweden on a study abroad component. Purdue and Stockholm students work together in teams, first to map the paleoglaciology of target areas using remote sensing (lab component), then visit these sites in the Southern Swedish mountains to field check their interpretations (field component), and then complete group presentations. While in the field, the Purdue and Stockholm students also share accommodation and cook/eat together. Required daily journal entries completed by the Purdue students provide insight into what content the students are learning, but also capture their thoughts about the places they are visiting and the people they are getting to know. Through quotes from these journals, you will see how this experience stimulates students to think about issues ranging from gun control and individual rights and responsibilities, to health care, food preferences, immigration, and work-life balance.

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