Education institutions must acknowledge that students come to environmental education with their own experiences and potentially little knowledge of the industry. Students may have some conceptual knowledge and understanding of environmental systems and human communities’ influence on those systems; however, that understanding may be insufficient to connect traditional environmental science concepts to environmental industry careers. This paper aims to outline the steps taken by one large, online institution of higher education, serving non-traditional adult learners, to better prepare students for the environmental science workforce by bridging the college-to-career gap between academics and industry.
Jacquelyn Kelly, Ph.D., is an Associate Dean at University of Phoenix with more than 15 years of experience in science and math education. Her expertise is in translating STEM education research into practice at institutions of higher education. Kelly earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Science Education from Arizona State University. Her master's degree is in Materials Science and Engineering from Arizona State University. Her undergraduate degree is in Physics and Chemistry from California State University, San Marcos. She has been principal investigator and co-principal investigator of multiple federal grant projects to develop science education support for rural area K-12 teachers and to develop student government science officer roles in K-12. Kelly’s previous positions include science teaching, teacher evaluator for the county education service agency, and program director for professional development programs for science and math educators.
Dianna Gielstra, Ph.D., is a biogeographer, course designer and an instructor for the University of Phoenix College of General Studies Environmental Science program. Their research interests are in human and environmental connections, geography, polar, mountain, and riparian environments. Their research work includes the use of technologies to engage K-12 learners in geoscience education through virtual reality and is a team member and content contributor to GeoEPIC.
Tomáš J. Oberding, Ph.D., is a coastal ecologist, course designer and an instructor for the University of Phoenix College of General Studies Environmental Science program. His work has taken him from the UNESCO world heritage site of HaLong Bay in VietNam to the Permian oilfield of New Mexico. His research interests are in the fields of hydrology, mariculture, coral ecology, and environmental remediation.
Jim Bruno, MBA, is the College Curriculum Manager for the College of General Studies. He has over 20 years of experience in course design, process management, and the scholarship of teaching. He operationalizes transformative practices in higher education to best meet the needs of nontraditional learners. In 2017, Jim was recognized with the Sperling Award for Innovation for his work developing technology enhanced course designs. Jim earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix.
Susan Hadley, Ph.D., is an Associate Dean at the University of Phoenix. She has oversight of the Bachelor of Arts in English degree as well as the non-STEM general education catalog, including ‘first year student experience’ courses. Hadley has spent over 20 years in higher education serving in various dean roles, as a faculty member across degree levels, and as a consultant for dozens of colleges and universities. She has advised higher education institutions throughout the country regarding academic program structure and design, accreditation, and academic policies and procedures incorporating operational and educational best practices. Dr. Hadley earned her doctorate in psychology from Saybrook University, a Master of Arts in English from Emporia State University, a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hastings College, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Bellevue University.