Dr Thomas Currie

Multi-disciplinary learning

Name Dr Thomas Currie
Email T.Currie@exeter.ac.uk
Position Lecturer in Cultural Evolution
College College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Grand Challenges at the Penryn Campus

Working within Biosciences at the Penryn campus, Tom Currie’s work focuses on human behaviour from an evolutionary biological perspective; “I apply theories and methods from evolutionary biology to understand why humans do what they do and why they do different things in different parts of the world.” Tom is the lead for the Grand Challenges field course based at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Second year students can get involved through a credited module and first years through non-credited participation. The Challenge is called ‘Population Pressures: Can we create a sustainable future?’ and tackles the discussion about the major environmental challenges facing human and natural populations within the 21st century.

“The students will be working in small groups and creating films around certain topics of their own choosing. That can be related to things such as waste; how our population is producing waste, how we’re going to try and feed our populations; now and in the future, in a sustainable way…” The videos are a result of the students’ research and experiences throughout the Challenge, and will involve constructing an argument and interviews from other people about their topic.

Using technology within the Challenge

Technology will aid the project by providing a platform for the students to research, collaborate and create their videos, through using iPads for example. “The students will also be engaging with social media a lot throughout the week. The students have to produce… blog entries on a blog platform… about what they’re experiencing, what they’re doing, how they’re feeling about it and how they’re feeling that it’s changing their views about things.”

Interdisciplinary collaboration

“The Grand Challenges module is very interdisciplinary… There are students coming from a variety of different backgrounds… The students will… get the perspectives on their particular question and particular Challenge from working with people from different backgrounds.” The Challenge itself crosses disciplines, as the students will learn about a variety of research approaches, from social science methods to biological methods. Students will be able to “see the ways that other people think about these ideas, and maybe start to incorporate that into their own thinking and take that forward as they go and study other things in their final year.”

Aim 6: Multi-disciplinary learning for global challenges 

To provide all students with the opportunity to explore the relevance of different disciplines to contemporary challenges facing the world

Using technology within Grand Challenges

"It’s important that we understand how different technologies can help us in teaching…"

Multi-disciplinary work to tackle global challenges

"… Solutions are going to require the different perspectives of different disciplines."