The heart of this symposium is building linkages across several important ‘divides’ that contribute to the ‘wicked’ nature of problems in ecology teaching and learning. These include: 1) bridging traditional and more progressive frameworks and approaches to ecology itself, 2) linking across big ideas within the discipline, explicitly between biodiversity, material cycling, ecosystem services and climate change, 3) connecting scientists leading ecological discovery with scientists at the cutting edge of research on teaching and learning, and 4) applying results and insights from education research to education practice. We predict that novel connections will emerge from the science and education focus of the collaborative teams who are presenting papers. This final synthesis will be crafted from both the prepared talks as well as the questions and responses from the participants who attend the symposium.
The symposium begins with an introduction to the idea of wicked problems in ecology education, placing the session in the context of important frameworks for synthesis from biology education (Vision and Change), science education (the Next Generation Science Standards) and ecological literacy (the ESA 2007 Vice Presidents’ Survey and the nascent ESA 4 Dimensional Ecology Education (4DEE) Framework). Each of the four topics of the ESA meeting theme – biodiversity, material cycling, ecosystem services, and climate change – are explored in papers co-authored by a scientist/discipline-based education researcher team. Each team will identify important learning goals from current science, key challenges and insights about learning from education scholarship, and promising avenues for effective teaching. Each team will address synthesis with the other topics in the symposium, responding to the challenge of “linking” identified in the meeting theme. A final presentation will synthesize across the four topical presentations, mapping out challenges and opportunities for linkages across topics, between ecological and education research and teaching practice, and how to drive these ‘wicked’ curricular innovations with student assessment data.