International Studies Summer Institute


FACDIS International Studies Summer Institute for Teachers



Earth, Water, and Air: Energy and the Environment in Today’s World

June 22-June 27, 2014

Blackwater Falls State Park

Program Description

Earth, Water, and Air: Energy and the Environment in Today’s World will focus on problems common to all of us, internationally, nationally, and locally. Although citizens of our state and region have become acutely aware of environmental issues raised by such techniques as hydro-fracking and surface mining, questions of how best to generate the power are shared by people living everywhere in the world, whether in developing or developed economies.

This week-long institute for pre-collegiate teachers is being offered to expand knowledge in the teaching of energy generation and its effects on the environment and on societies worldwide.  The institute is designed primarily for middle and high school teachers who wish to incorporate this knowledge into their curricula. As always, however, it is open to teachers at all levels of instruction, K-12.

The topic should be of special interest to a wide variety of teachers, for it will touch not only on science but especially on social science and the humanities. In short, it will not only include questions of energy-generation but environmental impact on how societies are both affected and also seek to accommodate new (and old) ways of generating energy while hopefully controlling the destruction of the environment or the pollution of air and water.

Heading the summer staff is Dr. Brenden McNeil, a member of the West Virginia University Department of Geography and Geology. Brenden earned his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Denver and his Ph.D. (with distinction) from Syracuse University. After a post-doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and field work in Costa Rica, he began his WVU career in 2008. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses with specialization in energy, ecology and environment.

Besides sessions at Blackwater Falls, the institute will feature a number of short field trips to such locations as the Canaan Valley Institute, PIMBY energy, the Mount Storm Power Plant, and the wind farms located near Davis, WV.  There will also be special guest presentations, currently being negotiated, with speakers specializing in environment-energy topics in various part of the world.

The Sponsor: FACDIS

The West Virginia Consortium for Faculty and Course Development in International Studies (FACDIS) is sponsoring, for the 26th summer, a Summer Institute for Teachers on an international topic. FACDIS is devoted to improving international education in West Virginia, and furthers its mission by providing professional development opportunities for our state’s teachers. Funding is from the State Legislature to FACDIS for the summer international study program.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park is named for the falls of the Blackwater River whose amber-colored waters plunge five stories then twist and tumble through an eight-mile-long gorge.  Numerous observation points afford panoramic views of the half-mile wide canyon.  Stairways and boardwalks lead to the base of the falls for an awe-inspiring, close-up view.  Blackwater Lodge sits on the canyon’s south rim, providing a sweeping view of the densely forested gorge.  Blackwater Falls is located in the scenic, mountainous Potomac Highlands in Davis, West Virginia on Rt. 32.  For further information:

Application Information

To apply, visit us online at:


Employment Certification Letter from Principal:

Your application will not be complete without a letter from your principal stating that you are employed in a regular and on-going position. This letter can be sent by regular mail, fax, or direct email (from the principal) to Gretchen Peterec.

Mailing address:

Gretchen Peterec, FACDIS Assistant Director

Department of Political Science

WVU, PO Box 6317

Morgantown, WV 26506-6317

Fax: 304-293-8644



Personal Statement:

Applicant must submit a personal statement of about 250 words explaining why you wish to attend, and how you plan to incorporate institute information into the courses you teach.  This can either be done with the online application or sent directly


Three hours of free graduate credit (History 930: Earth, Water, and Air: Energy and the Environment in Today’s World) will be offered for participation in the institute.  Credit will be arranged through the WVU Office of Extended Learning. Professional development graduate credit is offered, which can be used for re-certification and salary increments, but cannot be used as credit toward a graduate degree program.


Social studies teachers, as well as teachers of other subjects, who indicate how they will utilize the institute material in class, are eligible to apply.

Selection of Participants:

The personal statements will be taken into consideration during the applicant selection process.  Relevance of the program to the applicant’s teaching responsibilities will also be a consideration.

Space is available for up to 40 teachers.

What Will Teachers Receive?

  • Three hours professional development graduate credit through WVU.
  • Tuition-fee waivers for credit.
  • Free double-occupancy lodging and meals at Blackwater Falls State Park.
  • Teaching resource materials and texts.

What are Costs to the Teachers?

  • $20 professional development fee to WVU Office of Extended Learning for summer 2014 admission to receive professional development graduate credit.
  • Cost of transportation to/from home to Blackwater Falls State Park.
  • Recreational amenities at Blackwater Falls.

Final Course Requirement:

Teaching units with detailed lesson plans for five to seven class periods will be due to the FACDIS office by Friday, August 1, 2014.

University Admission Procedures:

After teachers have been accepted to the Summer Institute, they will be informed of the University admission procedures by the WVU Office of Extended Learning. Teachers needing to be admitted will be responsible for the professional development fee for graduate admission.


To apply, please visit us online at: application and the personal statement are due by May 5th  A letter of employment certification from your principal must also be received by the FACDIS office.

Feel free to forward this information to colleagues who you think might also be interested

in attending our Earth, Water, and Air: Energy and the Environment in Today’s World

Summer Institute for Teachers.