Habib, E.; Deshotel, M., and Williams, D., 2018. Unlocking the educational value of large-scale, coastal-ecosystem restoration projects: Development of student-centered, multidisciplinary learning modules.
Recent decades have witnessed the development and implementation of several regional-scale, coastal-restoration planning projects that deal with human–natural coupled ecosystems. With their rich contexts, societal importance and preavailable data and modeling resources, these projects offer unique, multidisciplinary learning opportunities that are yet to be tapped into, especially at the undergraduate level. The current study presents an effort to capitalize on these regional-scale projects and use their resources in undergraduate educational settings. The study describes the development of a set of Web-based learning modules that are situated in the Chenier Plain coastal ecosystem in Louisiana. Going through a comprehensive. coast-wide restoration-planning effort, coastal Louisiana is a unique ecosystem that captures the interactions between inland hydrology and coastal and wetland processes. Centered on the current crisis of coastal land loss in the region, the modules immerse students in a suite of active-learning experiences in which they prepare and analyze data, reproduce model simulations, interpret results, and balance the beneficial and detrimental impacts of several real-world coastal-restoration projects. The modules cover a wide array of topics, including system-scale analysis of water and salt budgets, use of numerical models in coastal hydrologic settings, linkages between hydrologic variability and vegetation regimes, and assessments of different restoration strategies. The article presents lessons learned, challenges, and students' perspectives from pilot classroom implementations to guide similar future efforts on using large-scale, coastal-ecosystem projects to enrich current educational practices in the field of coastal hydrology and other related topics.