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USM Faculty Complete Gulf Scholars Program Curriculum Workshops

Wed, 02/08/2023 - 06:58am | By: David Tisdale

The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Scholars Program (GSP) recently announced its first curriculum cohort has completed a series of development workshops, with six faculty from across USM Coastal Operations creating place-based experiential learning units that aim to inspire and prepare undergraduate students to create a more equitable, just, and resilient Gulf of Mexico region.

Participants designed units around foundations of sustainability and interdisciplinary thinking. The learning units will become part of the Southern Miss GSP Certificate and will enhance student learning about the Gulf of Mexico and its people.

“We are excited for students to deepen their knowledge of the coast, and to do so through their respective disciplines,” said GSP Director Dr. Rebecca Powell. “The participants created engaging and rigorous learning experiences.”

Participating faculty and details about the learning units they established are as follow:

David Holt, Associate Professor of Geography, School of Coastal Resilience

This sustainability course will answer questions such as: How has your urban waterway changed and how is it managed, can that change or would it have an impact if it did, what ways can we monitor or improve this waterway? The questions are based on the historical and cultural significance of Urban Freshwater Resources.

Damon Franke, Associate Professor of English, School of Coastal Resilience

Students will explore Natasha Trethewey's Native Guard through field research of Gulfport and Ship Island. 

Katrin Pesch, Assistant Professor of Coastal Resilience

Students will work in small groups to identify a topic and place, conduct research on their chosen topic, and create a short narrative, documentary or experimental film that engages with an environmental issue facing the Gulf Coast.

Joris van der Ham, Assistant Teaching Professor of Marine Science, School of Coastal Resilience; Carsten Schmidtke, Assistant Teaching Professor of Human Capital Development, School of Leadership

This module will require students to research new technologies in their specialty areas that can (a) positively impact coastal areas economically or ecologically, (b) can in turn help their companies or organizations grow and be profitable. They will then identify three technologies, discuss their advantages and disadvantages, choose one of the three technologies, justify their choices, and present their conclusion in the form of a formal proposal to their company management.

Jennifer McKinney, Visiting Instructor of Ecology and Organismal Biology, School of Coastal Resilience

Throughout this module, students will learn about important marine resources that drive the local seafood economy. On a field trip to the Maritime and Seafood Museum, students will learn about the historic seafood industry and industry practices, then tour the USM Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center to learn about modern aquaculture technologies and take an excursion at sea to observe the off-bottom aquaculture site next to Deer Island.

Bradley Winton, Assistant Professor of Leadership, School of Leadership

Students will develop knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico and the coastal business zone as they learn how leaders impact the lives of Mississippi Gulf Coast workers. The activity includes a guest speaker (or series of guest speakers) that will speak about the importance of certain qualities of employees and the situations they work within.

Learn more about the Southern Miss Gulf Scholars Program at