The overall goal of SCWIBLES is to train a generation of environmental scientists, teachers, and community stakeholders to be able to work together effectively to solve environmental problems in the cultural diverse Central Coast region of California.
Toward this end, UC Santa Cruz graduate students in environmental sciences learn to explain the process, results, and implications of scientific research to a culturally diverse society, and to work with diverse groups of people to solve environmental problems; teachers gain experience in scientific research and tools to help students become citizens who can work with scientists to solve environmental problems; students get to know practicing scientists, learn scientific inquiry to solve problems, and explore career options based on science and math.
The guided work that SCWIBLES fellows do throughout the year—in semi-formal presentations about their research, in sharing their work with their Teacher Partners, and in developing and implementing curricular modules for high school students—is designed to help them become better science communicators, and more effective scientists. SCWIBLES fellows should emerge from the program with enhanced skills, understanding, and confidence as environmental scientists who are able to work with diverse community members to help solve environmental problems. Thus, SCWIBLES will lay the groundwork for the co-production of useful scientific knowledge in environmental science.
Larger Vision: Communication and Diversity for a Sustainable Future
The SCWIBLES program aims to improve the communication and teaching skills of UCSC environmental studies graduate students, the educational environment of Watsonville High School, and the career opportunities of Watsonville High’s students. These aims are informed by a larger vision of environmental problem-solving in the sciences.
Citizen-Scientists for the Future: Communication for Change
Participants in the SCWIBLES program understand that effective communication among environmental stakeholders is essential. All aspects of our program are guided by three central principles:
a) environmental scientists should be able to represent scientific process, knowledge, and uncertainty effectively to non-scientists;
b) non-scientists (e.g., businesspeople, policymakers, landowners, workers, voters) should be able to discern what kinds of scientific knowledge they need, and to critically evaluate scientific claims and counterclaims; and
c) mutual respect, following from mutual understanding and effective communication, leads to the co-production of useful scientific knowledge.
Our program design, including the collaborative, inquiry-based learning we do, promotes the fundamental conditions for such effective communication among our participants, in our institutions, and in our region.
Expanding Diversity in Environmental Sciences
SCWIBLES aims to increase the diversity in the environmental sciences by increasing the academic success and career opportunities for students at Watsonville High School.
Watsonville High is located in the agricultural community of Watsonville, and is part of the Pájaro Valley Unified School District, which serves primarily Latino students. More than 75% of Watsonville High’s students come from low-income homes, and about a third are learning English as a second language.
The ESNR Academy is an innovative educational structure that creates a career-focused pathway to jobs and postsecondary education in regionally important fields of agriculture, environmental management, and green technology.
By placing Fellows in ESNR – many of whom are women or members of other under-represented groups in the sciences – the program seeks to increase the range of role models available to ESNR students, to inspire them with current, provocative issues and hands-on projects, and to encourage them to consider options and requirements for higher education. Through SCWIBLES activities, we hope to expand the pipeline of environmental professionals from communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by environmental problems.