Council for Resilience Education: Kylie Bergenske

Members of the Council for Resilience Education pose for a portrait in Hardin Hall on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Council of Resilience Education strives to teach the concept of ecological resilience to the academic community and convey its global impact. 

In fall 2019, the Council of Resilience Education became a recognized student organization and is primarily made up of graduate students. Ecological resilience refers to the amount of disturbance that a system can withstand or intake before it collapses or changes into something else, according to club president Julie Fowler, a second year masters student in Natural Resources with a specialization in Applied Ecology and treasurer Katharine Hogan, a third year PhD student in Natural Resources and Applied Ecology.

The initial idea of the organization was thought of by Dirac Twidwell, associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. Hogan said the organization provides resources and tools for students and professors in a university setting like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to learn about ecological resilience and its applications. 

“The importance of this organization is it represents what I believe is going to be a really big shift in how the universities as education organizations think about these systems that students are going to be entering in when they enter the workforce,” Hogan said. “The most important concept to learn from ecological resilience is that the systems in the world we live in change and we need to be aware of that change and the impact of it.”

Fowler and Hogan said these changes can be environmental, social or even political. Hogan said that the world is constantly going through changes, which can often be overwhelming and difficult to keep up with and know the effects of. Fowler and Hogan said that learning about ecological resilience can help understand these changes.

“We see ecological resilience as having a lot of promise for understanding change, understanding change in our world, making changes in our world, and making decisions in our life that change,” Hogan said.

One of the ways the organization teaches about ecological resilience is through modules. Hogan said the modules entail an overview and objective, introduction, description of the concept, a summary, examples and a list of references.

Fowler said the group first brainstorms an idea for a module and then assigns a specific person to go through scholarly literature and relate it to their personal experience with ecological resilience and the given concept in classes to help relate it to undergraduate students, then they write a first draft. After that, Fowler said many different sessions of edits happen within the group and with faculty and staff members on campus before it is published online. 

“The modules are a great way to break down the information from scholarly literature and present it in a way that can be understood by students,” Fowler said. “It’s a way to bring this information to a general audience and to show different types of examples that can apply to their own lives.”

The group also hopes to launch a podcast within the next two months, Fowler said. The podcast will be released once a week and Fowler said she and a few other members will talk about a concept such as climate change or surface and overland water runoff, break it down, give their interpretations of it and then look at the concept in the news. 

“The podcast is something that I’m personally passionate and excited about,” Fowler said. “We hope to have it available on all major platforms including iTunes and Spotify.”

The organization as a whole has been focused on recruiting more members. Fowler and Hogan said they’re continuing to do recruitment events, including a classroom activity with Jenga. Fowler said the Jenga activity is used to visualize the concept of ecological resilience and the game copies certain ways decision makers might act according to different systems. 

Hogan said that since the world is ever-changing, it is important to try and understand how these systems work and find out how they react to disturbances.

“We do know that they’re not invincible and we can’t just assume they’re always going to be there,” Hogan said.