Hiram College

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Professor of Biology Denny Taylor, Ph.D. and an interdisciplinary team of science educators recently directed an innovative workshop in the Dominican Republic on coastal community resilience to climate change.

The workshop, which took place May 19-20 at Saint George School in Santo Domingo, was a collaboration between Counterpart International, an organization based out of Arlington, Va., that tackles social, economic, environmental, health and governance issues that threaten the future, and the Igniting Streams of Learning in Science International (ISLSI) Program, a collaborative spearheaded by Dr. Taylor that improves the way educators, scientists, students and local citizens approach science.

Santo Domingo is one of the top five cities in the world that will experience serious climate change damage by 2050, according to a 2013 study published by the World Bank. Hiram ISLSI experts in educational technology, Tim Sisson, and in learning, Mary Louise Holly and Sonya Wisdom, explored ways to increase student engagement in solving this difficult 21st century issue.

The Dominican Republic as a country has committed to adapting to and combatting climate change through a number of initiatives including:

  • policies in the constitution regarding land use and the environment.
  • participation in the United Nations’ Learning About Climate Change program.
  • dollars in the education budget earmarked to train teachers about climate change, incorporating the ISLSI methodology pioneered at Hiram College.

All of these initiatives are a good start, according to Dr. Taylor.

“The government’s commitment to change the country’s school curriculum to address climate resiliency is really unprecedented,” he said. “If it happens, it’ll be a model for the entire Caribbean, even the world.”

Through his work with the Igniting Streams of Learning in Science program the last few years, Prof. Taylor and the ISLSI team have collaborated with local secondary education teachers and Hiram students to make science education more accessible to the younger population. The program has recently expanded internationally, through this work with the Dominican Republic, and through an ongoing partnership with Pakistan, funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Dr. Taylor’s research interests include science education, technology innovations in education, landscape ecology and wetland and stream assessment and biomonitoring. During the Spring 2016 semester, he will be leading Biomes of the World, an 80-day “around-the-world” study abroad expedition on climate change, open to all U.S. undergraduates.