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2024 Spotlight on Faculty Innovation in General Education

GSO Professor Kathy Donohue is recognized for her course, OCG 200G: Extreme Weather, Graduate School of Oceanography

April 17, 2024

The University of Rhode Island has announced this year’s faculty members who are being recognized for delivering innovative courses as part of the General Education Program.

Professor and Emeritus Professor designed OCG 200G: Extreme Weather to introduce students to the principles of weather and the far-reaching personal, national, and global influences of extreme weather phenomena. With multiple sections offered every semester, GSO faculty including Professors Tetsu Hara, Isaac Ginis, and Arthur Spivack also teach the course, putting their own spin on the content to include topics like hurricane dynamics and coastal resilience. For example, this semester Professor Spivack has his students interpreting weather maps and using storm tools to detail the impact of flooding in RI to better understand the ocean and climate change.

For Professor Donohue, the question of risk is at the forefront when teaching her students about the human impact of weather events. In her class, students tackle current news stories and reflect on the economic, social, and personal impact of weather. In a class of 50+ students, these bi-weekly reports highlight the diversity of student perspectives and the personal connections students have with course content. Using the disaster response game “Are You Ready,” students act out disaster scenarios playing the roles of first responder, federal official, and community member. Working to solve the problem with a set of limited resources, students quickly realize the cascading failure effect that can result from a catastrophic weather event.

These hands-on activities demonstrate not only how risk is communicated but also how stakeholders take onus for the consequences of extreme weather. It is Professor Donohue’s hope that her students finish the course “with more gratitude for what is around us. I want students to look up and weather watch more often –to figure out what’s going on and how it impacts their lives because weather is fascinating.”

Read about the rest of the recognized cohort from This year’s highlighted faculty are: Clarisa Carubin, associate teaching professor in the Department of Art and Art History; Elizabeth Mendenhall, associate professor in the Departments of Marine Affairs and Political Science; and Liam Malloy, chair and associate professor in the Economics Department.