MEES is proud to announce the development of its new curriculum which has been designed to reflect the changes in the educational landscape since the establishment of the current MEES curriculum. The Curriculum Committee recognized three important drivers of change: (1) the definition and scope of environmental sciences are changing; (2) the need for scientific knowledge to shape policy for existing and emerging environmental challenges; and (3) the national need to train students in STEM fields to supply the future workforce. With the development of the new curriculum, the committee feels that they have adequately addressed these core challenges in the new program.
In its challenge to the nation, the National Research Council committee on "New Biology for the 21st Century" suggested that biological sciences are in the midst of a revolution. This revolution is breaking down traditional barriers between biological disciplines and working to reintegrate fields that have developed indecently of one another. Reading the NRC report, it became clear that their definition of biological sciences matched very well with the diversity and breadth currently embedded by the MEES Program. The NRC recommendations encourage interdisciplinary interactions solely within the life sciences, however MEES feels that it must promote trans-disciplinary interactions across all of the natural sciences.
As such, the MEES Curriculum Committee believes that it is critically important that a new curriculum should promote opportunities for students to obtain inter- and trans-dsciplinary training and that it best achieved in an inter-institutional graduate program that leverages the full breadth of expertise within the University System of Maryland. In order to fulfill that wish, the Curriculum Committee believes that training a generation of scientists who focus on conducting science that can inform policy debates that can lead to future social change and translated into technologies should be encourages to help meet current and future environmental challenges. The Committee also believes that the new curriculum should explicitly include training the relevant social sciences what should be integrated within the curriculum rather than being viewed as an accessory to the program.
In order to achieve these goals, the MEES Curriculum Committee has designed the program with four foundational areas: Environment & Society, Earth & Ocean Systems, Ecological Systems, and Environmental Molecular Systems & Technology.
Students will obtain foundational knowledge of core theories and practice method in the following research domains of integrated social and environmental concerns: Coupled natural and human systems, cultural models of the environment, political ecology and governance, ecological economics and environmental ethics. Students will develop scholarship practice in the human dimension aspects of ecological systems that includes critical thinking, written and verbal communication, and practice in interdisciplinary fieldwork to hone skills in data collection, goal facilitation, consensus building, and network analysis.
Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the physical and biogeochemical dynamics of earth-estuarine-ocean system. Students will gain process-based knowledge of the earth-estuarine-ocean system from theoretical, experimental, and empirical vantage points. Students will be expected to demonstrate both quantitative and qualitative understanding of fundamental physical and biogeochemical processes, and their interactions, synthesis and apply information from multiple scientific disciplines (e.g., hydrology, biogeochemistry, physical oceanography) and formulate testable hypotheses through integration of theory and observational data.
Students will gain literacy in central theories and avenues of research in ecological systems, including the principles of production, natural selection and life history, population ecology, communities and ecosystems and land-and seascapes. Students will apply demonstrate mastery of the principle theories and ideas relating to ecological systems and the ability to express ideas relating to ecological systems in quantitative terms Ability to synthesize across systems and scales.
Students will gain literacy and understanding of molecular biological processes, methods and approaches related to environmental systems including DNA< RNA< and protein synthesis, genomics and comparative and environmental genomics. Students will learn how molecular techniques have revolutionized ecology, conservation, and taxonomy, allowed the understanding of microbial communities and provided the opportunity to investigate the characteristics of plant and animal populations in non-invasive ways.