Colorado State University is the lead institution of the newly formed Rocky Mountain Sustainability and Science Network funded by $500,000 from the National Science Foundation. The network brings together 15 universities and institutions in the intermountain West to pique the interest of undergraduate students in science, biology and global sustainability by developing experience-based learning opportunities.
Environmental challenges in the West include the growing impacts of climate change manifesting on a large-scale such as the pine bark beetle outbreak, increased wildland fire, long-term drought and invasive species. All these issues, many of which interact with changes in land use, are impacting communities that depend on natural resources for recreation, jobs and economic stability.
“The issue facing educators today is how can we prepare the next generation of public land stewards with the multidisciplinary skills needed to address impacts of climate change?” said Gillian Bowser, assistant dean in the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU and lead principle investigator. “The Rocky Mountain Sustainability and Science Network will combine real-world careers and biological education using field experiences to address critical issues for the sustainability and ecological integrity of public lands.”
The broader impacts of this network focus on undergraduate understanding of biological and sustainability concepts and their application to public land management. The network will strive to increase the number of multicultural students in these areas of student in western states by engaging minority-serving institutions and purposeful outreach.
Bowser, along with a co-principle investigator, Mark Brown, director of the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry in The Institute for Learning and Teaching, will direct Colorado State’s involvement in designing and implementing the network.
Members of the Rocky Mountain Sustainability and Science Network along with Colorado State are the University of Wyoming, University of Montana, Utah State University, University of Arizona, American Museum of Natural History, Texas A&M University, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Colorado-Denver, Student Conservation Association, National Park Service, National Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, U.S. Geological Survey and Metropolitan State University.
This NSF project is supported jointly supported by the Biological Sciences Directorate and the Division of Undergraduate Education.