“BEST PRACTICES IN MARCELLUS SHALE EDUCATION” CONFERENCE HELD IN ITHACA

The Paleontological Research Institution and the Cornell Co-operative Extension hosted a conference this March

(Ithaca NY) March 20, 2013—The Paleontological Research Institution and the Cornell Co-operative Extension hosted the “Best Practices in Marcellus Shale Education” Conference March 18 and 19, 2013, at Cornell University. The focus was education and outreach practices in communicating topics related to Marcellus gas drilling and other polarizing issues. Conference topics were the scale of energy in space, time and Earth systems, energy literacy development, strategies for teaching and learning about risk, socioeconomic issues, and local and global environmental considerations. Speakers at the conference included scientists, educators, and journalists. In the audience were professional educators from New York and surrounding states, who are striving to provide impartial education and outreach for issues on shale gas development.

Two scientists from PRI, Rob Ross and Don Duggan-Haas, presented and led discussions on what educators should know to teach about the Marcellus Shale and to help people understand the issue’s complexity. Duggan-Haas emphasized the public interest in Marcellus Shale issues is an opportunity for educators to help people learn more about how and from where they get their energy. By understanding the complex broader energy system, Duggan-Haas argued people could make more informed decisions about energy and see how the current scale of energy consumption is unsustainable.

The conference provided educators with an opportunity to share their ideas and experiences on how to best help people learn and encourage constructive conversations on energy when the topic is controversial. Reviews of shale gas drilling, policies and regulations were not discussed. The conference was hosted by the Paleontological Research Institution and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marcellus Outreach Team and it was partially funded by the National Science Foundation.

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About the Paleontological Research Institution: The Paleontological Research Institution serves society by increasing and disseminating knowledge about the history of life on Earth. Founded in 1932, the Paleontological Research Institution has outstanding programs in research, collections, publications, and public education. The Institution cares for a collection of nearly three million specimens (one of the 10 largest in the U.S.), and publishes Bulletins of American Paleontology, the oldest paleontological journal in the Western Hemisphere, begun in 1895. PRI is a national leader in the development of informal (i.e., outside the classroom) Earth science education resources for educators and the general public. PRI and its two public venues for education, the Museum of the Earth and the Cayuga Nature Center, are separate from, but formally affiliated with Cornell University, and interact closely with numerous University departments in research, teaching, and public outreach.