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Report

Creating a research to classroom pipeline: closing the gap between science research and educators

By Jennifer Schon, Karla Bradley Eitel, Justin Hougham and Danica Hendrickson

As scientific research evolves information in (K-12) curriculum can quickly become outdated. New research can greatly change the way we teach about science topics and the content we want students to understand. Educators, both formal and informal, can enrich their science curriculum by pulling from current research. Navigating the complexities and unanswered questions alongside scientists can provide a platform for discussion and insight into the nature of science and research that many students are not aware of, providing both a unique experience and valuable lesson on problem solving. Using lessons recently created in tandem with current aviation biofuels project, this article demonstrates the steps educators can take to use ongoing research to create lessons for their own audiences. As often noted in media and current events, finding a reliable, abundant, and sustainable source of transportation fuel is a high priority. One current research effort is being led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture–funded Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), which combines research efforts from industry and educational institutions to build a renewable supply chain for aviation biofuel. This article highlights steps suggested for educators to break down current research to create lessons for their audiences through an explanation of lessons that were developed using NARA research as a foundation. These steps include: Define the theme, Provide the background, Break down the parts, and Draw the parallels.

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Scholarly Features

Exploring the Politics and Sustainability of Energy Production: A Professional Development Program for Science Teachers

By Mark Bloom, Sarah Quebec Fuentes, Kelly Feille and Molly Holden

This paper describes a three-week professional development program, for inservice science teachers, which included on-site field trips to different energy production sites, explored the variety of opinions about them (via film, podcasts, news media, and expert lectures), and incorporated mathematical modeling as a lens through which to evaluate the relative sustainability of each energy type. The teacher participants explored oil, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, and coal energy production methods. This paper describes in detail their experience at a coal strip mine and a coal fueled power plant. For each type of energy, the teachers completed a pre- and post-assessment on their understanding of how the energy source was used to generate electricity and their perceptions of the environmental costs of each. The participants’ change in understanding of the energy production methods and increasing awareness of environmental costs are shared. Further, in their own words, participants describe the impact of the professional development on their own knowledge base and their classroom teaching as well as their perceptions of experiential learning as a vehicle for conceptual change.

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Learning and behavior change in a Girl Scout program focused on energy conservation: Saving energy to ‘save the planet’

By Gillian Puttick, Kim Kies, Cecilia Garibay and Debra Bernstein

This study presents outcomes from the Girls Energy Conservation Corps, a research and development project that produced a series of six patch activity guides for girls age 8-14 who are members of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. The program focused on integrating engaging online and real world activities that involved girls in learning about climate change and their role in it, in saving energy, understanding the importance of collective goals and action to address climate change, and using new media creatively to educate peers and the community about energy conservation. Positive changes in knowledge, behavior, and attitudes pre to post suggest that a carefully designed program can address the challenges of educating children about energy conservation and climate change at this age, even if participant exposure to the program is brief. Findings also bring to light that developmental differences may be important to deconstruct in future studies when applying adult-tested behavior change models and theories to youth.

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Case Study

Student and Teacher Teams Using High Resolution Electricity Monitoring to Create Local Change

By Ruth Kermish-Allen, Karen Peterman, Suzanne MacDonald, Rachel Thompson and Brooks Winner

This paper will explore the Energy for ME program, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, which worked across formal and informal K-12 environments to bridge the gap between society, science, and the environment. Specifically, this article documents how Energy for ME integrates three experiential education pedagogies (place-based education, inquiry, and project-based learning) in combination with real-world electricity data in order to impact energy consumption within participating communities. Energy for ME schools and communities have saved over $135,000 in homeowner electricity costs, 900,000 lbs of carbon, and 1,000,000 kWh of energy) in electricity costs over the 3 years of the project.

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Opinion

Undergraduate Energy Education: The Interdisciplinary Imperative

By Kenneth Klemow

Undergraduate energy education is often offered from a specific perspective, such as engineering, sustainability, policy, or economics. This essay argues that undergraduate programs in energy should be explicitly interdisciplinary, because issues surrounding energy production, transmission, and use have multiple perspectives. Challenges to creating interdisciplinary energy programs include often-compartmentalized nature of colleges and universities, and employment prospects for broadly-educated graduates that may not be clear. Strategies for overcoming those issues are proposed, but others remain to be developed by leaders in undergraduate energy education.

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Opinion

The Energy-Climate Literacy Imperative: Why Energy Education Must Close the Loop on Changing Climate

By Mark McCaffrey

Energy education, vital though it is, remains incomplete if it doesn’t explicitly address the impacts of human activities, specifically the combustion of buried solar energy/fossil fuels, on the environment in general and climate system in particular. Projections based on current emission trends indicate a likely increase of the radiative forcing of energy in the Earth system from around three waters per meter squared today to over eight by the year 2100, substantially heating the planet in the process. Efforts to avoid or minimize the connection between human energy consumption and changing climate amount to a form of science denial through omission. In order to address the causes, effects, and risks of climate change and appreciate the range of options to minimize negative impacts and maximize resilience, energy and climate literacy efforts should be combined and ideally infused throughout the curriculum.

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Put A Brick In The Toilet: Overcoming Student Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Naïve Environmental Solutions

By Theodore J. Hogan and Paul Kelter

Eat local. Choose a reusable bag instead of plastic. Put a brick in the toilet. These are intuitively simplistic environmental “solutions” that may do little but make a person feel environmentally virtuous. Energy and environmental science teaching requires us to change students’ preconceived simplistic notions about solving environmental issues if we want these future leaders to make real environmentally effective decisions. Students need to understand that the energy input in a disposable plastic bag is dwarfed by the energy expenditure of driving to the grocery store with a reusable bag, so that they don’t make symbolic, but ineffective decisions. One approach is to have students attempt to develop a “sustainable” product. The complexity of environmental solutions becomes evident when we have to evaluate the energy use and environmental consequences from raw material sourcing to reuse.

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Figure 1. Central Goals of the VSI 2014 Science and Engineering Academy on Sustainable Energy

Energy Sustainability and Engineering Education for K-8 Teachers

By Tara Kulkarni, Renee Affolter and Deanna Bailey

In August 2014, twenty-nine K-8 teachers from eleven Vermont schools engaged in the science, engineering and pedagogical practices of sustainable energy education. This week long workshop was organized by the Vermont Science Initiative (VSI), with an engineering and science instructor each from Norwich University and Lyndon State College respectively, and in partnership with the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP).

Teachers defined energy in terms of work, differentiated between transfers and transformations occurring across different energy forms, and gained a deeper conceptual understanding of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Opportunities for inquiry ranged from wind turbines, to electrical circuits, to light and Photovoltaic (PV) cells, and an energy bike. These, in combination with scientist meetings and a field trip to a nearby solar PV farm solidified their scientific literacy in the sustainable energy context. The teachers were also led through the Engineering Design Process (EDP) including concepts of design criteria and constraints to learn about sustainably engineering the energy components of systems. Teachers worked in groups to build an Archimedes Screw pump and determined the efficiency of a micro-hydro-generator. By the end of the week, post assessment test results revealed that the teachers had a 37% improvement in understanding various content areas.

By engaging elementary and middle school teachers in fun, hands-on exploration of sustainable energy we hope to bring this form of literacy to our youngest citizens, and future leaders and decision makers. The opportunity to continue engagement throughout the year with three follow-up sessions, and a forum to share the units they developed and best practices through the VT Agency of Education website will serve as a model for other stakeholders interested in implementing a similar program.

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Green Schools as Learning Laboratories? Teachers’ Perceptions of Their First Year in a New Green Middle School

By Steve Kerlin, Rosie Santos and William Bennett

Many K-12 school districts are embracing energy conservation efforts and constructing environmentally sustainable buildings with the purpose of lower operating costs of their facilities. Investments in green infrastructure to improve operating efficiencies and occupant health are important but the impact on green buildings on instructional practice should also be considered. This study focused on teachers’ perceptions of the many impacts of a new sustainably designed middle school on students and teachers and explores the use of the school as a learning laboratory. Grades 6-8 teachers participated in open-ended focus group discussions near the end of the first school year in their new green building. An emergent coding framework was created to characterize conversation topics. Analysis of the coding yielded insights into seven major categories of teachers’ perceptions of the impact of the new green school on their work in the building and their students’ attitudes and academic performance. The seven major coding categories of green infrastructure, student behavior, student awareness, teacher awareness, curriculum, health, and professional development were further analyzed to formulate considerations and recommendations for others to capitalize on the instructional potential of sustainably designed school facilities as learning laboratories.

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Report

From the forest to the classroom: Energy literacy as a co-product of biofuels research

By Justin Hougham, Steve Hollenhorst, Jennifer Schon, Karla Bradley Eitel, Danica Hendrickson, Chad Gotch, Tammi Laninga, Laurel James, Blake Hough, Dan Schwartz, Shelley Preslley, Karl Olsen, Liv Haselbach, Quinn Langfitt and Jennifer Moslemi

The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) is a biofuel research project that includes a holistic educational approach to energy literacy. NARA research is focused on woody biomass as a feedstock for biofuels and associated co-products, particularly in the forested areas of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Extending beyond the science of biofuels, the NARA project examines many social elements of our energy economy, including education. Projects that can combine research and connections to educational venues provide excellent opportunities to expand the impact of grant funded proposals. Keys to making this possible include coordination across disciplines, interpretation of research results, and research processes in the field coupled with investment into integrated educational strategies within the project. This paper outlines elements of the NARA approach to energy literacy, offering strategies for approaches to broader impacts in projects beyond the energy sector.

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Original artwork for the KEEP Activity Guide (Linda Godfrey, 1998)
Scholarly Features

Designing Resilient Energy Education Programs for a Sustainable Future

By Jennie F. Lane, Annie Baker, Becca Franzen, Steve Kerlin and Susan Schuller

Effective teacher professional development in energy education is essential to creating a sustainable future. This article highlights and describes three key components of the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) that have led to two decades of increased statewide energy literacy. The success of the program can be attributed to supportive partnerships that guide staff, the development of an adaptive conceptual framework, and a professional development network for teachers. We offer these components as a guide for other energy education programs to promote future successes in teacher professional development in energy education.

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Scholarly Features

Achieving Energy and Ecological Literacies for All: Linking Ecology and Energy Education. Perspectives from Sessions at Ecological Society of America (ESA) 2014 Annual Meeting

By Leanne M. Jablonski, Kenneth Klemow and Gillian Puttick

Linking ecology and energy literacy efforts is an essential step for producing scientifically literate citizens who are able to make informed choices about energy, yet the two literacies have developed independently. To explicitly link these, we explored the interface between ecology, energy and education by inviting experts from diverse fields to share perspectives on how to improve public literacy in ecology and energy. This paper presents a synthesis of three organized sessions at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) August 2014 annual meeting: a symposium on a broad range of issues related to energy, ecology and sustainability; an organized oral featuring innovative approaches using ecological concepts to educate Kindergarten through college students about energy, and a share-fair where these innovations were demonstrated. Presentations represented all age-levels, non-formal and formal education, the geophysical sciences, public policy experts, government agencies, ecologists and sociologists, faith-based and environmental non-profits.

Diverse, creative and innovative educational approaches are underway, with major government funding attesting to their import. For ecologists, most of the energy applications centered on sustainability issues, and focused on climate change caused by fossil fuel development. Emerging considerations include direct impacts of energy development and transmission on ecosystems. Conversely, energy literacies should consider the role of ecology, given the ecological impacts involved in decisions about energy extraction and transport. General public audiences including environmental, faith-based and environmental justice communities are increasingly considering environmental dimensions in energy decisions and policy outreach but often on single, time-sensitive issues. Adult education would benefit from a more comprehensive integration of energy and ecology.

We propose that including an explicit ecology dimension in the energy literacies, and similarly involving energy application in the ecology literacies, would be synergistic and allow these inclusive and inherently interdisciplinary fields to flourish and best serve our educational goals of achieving an informed citizenry.

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Case Study

Columbia Water & Light: A Case Study in Energy Education

By Alex Dzurick

Columbia Water & Light is a municipal electric and water utility with a number of energy education programs. By hiring a full-time education and outreach coordinator, Water & Light has been able to create connections with existing audiences in the community. Historical and current programs have earned awards for the utility. Water & Light’s education programs touch on the science, math and social forces behind energy in the community through projects with adults and children alike. By addressing energy education from a number of angles, Water & Light hopes to provide the community a holistic view of their energy use and how they can improve, with a goal of increasing participation in the utility’s efficiency programs. Short descriptions of a number of programs highlight the work that Water & Light’s education and outreach team has developed over a number of years.

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Scholarly Features

Refinement of an Energy Literacy Rubric for Artifact Assessment and Application to the Imagine Tomorrow High School Energy Competition

By Quinn Langfitt, Liv Haselbach and Justin Hougham

National efforts in energy education aim to increase energy literacy and a diverse set of tools is needed to assess the effectiveness of different educational endeavors. As an alternative to the standard testing-based approach for determining individual energy knowledge, this research further advances a rubric-based approach for assessing the energy literacy manifested in artifacts of a competition or project. The goals were to add additional validity, determine if revisions to the rubric and assessment process increased reliability over the initial study on abstracts, and to determine how well suited the approach is for application to posters – the final deliverable of the competition. The rubric was applied to abstracts and posters from Imagine Tomorrow, a high school energy competition, and the resulting scores were analyzed for both standard rater reliability measures and variable-linked trends. Results showed that interrater reliability on the abstract assessment was similar to that of the previous study, the poster assessment showed much higher reliability than the abstract assessment, and many of the same energy literacy trends identified in the previous research were present with additional data allowing for further trend investigation in this study. While this refinement did not appear to contribute to higher reliability, it has created a rubric that is more user friendly and valid. This study has preliminarily demonstrated that the rubric approach may be more appropriate for artifacts with more information, such as posters or reports, than for brief summaries, such as abstracts. In the posters, some trends based on competition variables were able to be identified. This constitutes the next step toward an implementable approach that has the potential to assess certain energy education endeavors.

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Supporting Energy Education Online: Climate Literacy And Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN)  

By Anne U. Gold, Tamara Shapiro Ledley, Susan Buhr Sullivan, Karin B. Kirk and Marian Grogan

Recent changes in the climate system are mostly due to greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy use by society, which changes the distribution of energy in the Earth system. These changes highlight the importance of energy education. Energy consumption is at the source of and the solution to climate change. However, studies across the US and globally show that students’ understanding of energy and the connection between energy and climate is low. The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness (CLEAN, http://cleanet.org) effort supports educators of middle school through undergraduate levels in their teaching about energy topics by providing an online, free collection of peer-reviewed, classroom ready resources that span the entire breadth of energy and climate education. The web portal also provides materials for teachers to learn more about how to teach about energy and climate. A vibrant community supports educators and other stakeholders in their efforts.

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Case Study

Global Sustainability: An Authentic Context for Energy Education

By Danica Hendrickson, Kimberly Corrigan, Alicia Keefe, Danielle Shaw, Sheeba Jacob, Laura Skelton, Jennifer Schon, Karla Bradley Eitel and Justin Hougham

Reimagining energy education involves moving beyond the basics of energy use, conservation, and efficiency toward a more robust exploration of energy. This exploration should address energy access and equity, the impacts of energy choices, and personal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to sustainable energy solutions. One approach to encourage this evolution is to use a learning context that inspires educators and students to delve deeply and methodically into the social, economic, and environmental interconnections of energy issues—in other words, to learn about energy within the context of global sustainability. In this article, we share Facing the Future’s definition of global sustainability education (GSE), explain why GSE is an effective context for energy education, and use Facing the Future’s newest energy curriculum to demonstrate how GSE can be employed to develop engaging and rigorous interdisciplinary energy curriculum.

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Scholarly Features

Enabling energy conservation through effective decision aids

By Shahzeen Z. Attari and Deepak Rajagopal

Why don’t people adopt energy efficient appliances and curtail their behaviors to decrease energy use? People may not know which behaviors are truly effective and may be insufficiently motivated to change their behaviors. We focus on one area of this problem by first analyzing existing decision aids, tools available to help users make effective decisions. We explore EPA’s Energy Star program, DoE’s EERE calculators, and LBNL’s Home Energy Saver tool. We highlight their strengths and limitations and propose a framework to expand the functionality and uptake of the information through such aids. We suggest improvements along two broad areas. One area concerns the analytic capabilities and the information content of the decision aid, which focuses on (1) multiple goals and constraints, (2) hidden costs, and (3) heterogeneity in user characteristics. The other pertains to the framing so that users can easily process information through decision architecture by limiting choice overload and incorporating smart default options.

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Opinion

Energy Education: Easy, Difficult, or Both?

By David E. Blockstein, Catherine H. Middlecamp and John H. Perkins

Energy services undergird all modern, industrial societies, yet economies based on fossil fuels are not sustainable. Insecurity of supply, particularly of oil, has sparked major geopolitical tensions and warfare. Pollution from use of fossil fuels and other energy sources has damaged local, regional, and global health. Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have triggered concerns about the earth’s climate. Educational institutions are responding only slowly to these existential threats. This paper addresses the challenges facing students, faculty, and administrators as institutions move from simply providing technical education on the respective components of the energy industries to a more comprehensive program that also addresses the environmental, political, economic, cultural, and ethical contexts of energy literacy. Students at most institutions lack courses and programs outside of engineering and physical science. Only 8 percent of 1638 institutions have systematic, broad-based energy studies. The U.S. Department of Energy has supported initial efforts to develop this field. Development includes helping students move from energy studies to employment. Nevertheless, student interest is high. Faculty teaching sustainable energy have generally self-taught, and faculty employment opportunities in energy studies seldom exist. A faulty member delivering energy studies generally lacks a community of supporting peers. Those in this interdisciplinary field may fear the effort will not be rewarded by the institution. Nevertheless the intellectual rewards from developing energy studies are significant and motivating. Administrators face questions of balancing competing claims for institutional resources and face criticism from internal and external constituencies. In addition, they must guide the institution to promoting, enabling, and rewarding interdisciplinary work. Development of energy studies, however, positions the institution for better internal operations and for meeting critical societal needs. We conclude that energy education is both easy and hard, but it can and must be done.

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Photo Essay

There’s no such thing as a free megawatt: Hydrofracking as a Gateway Drug to Energy Literacy

By Don Duggan-Haas

Prezi presentation on overall energy picture in the U.S. and the role of hydrofracking with special focus on the Marcellus Shale

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Editorial

JSE comes of age on the international stage

By Larry Frolich and Jen Mason

With this unthemed issue and its impressive international scope, JSE enters its sixth year and shows its stretch across the continents.

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Figure 3.   The green circle in this diagram represents any social system (an organization, community, school, family, etc.).  The progression shown in the circle begins with difference and illustrates a common pattern by which power is accrued by individuals who embody certain characteristics.
Opinion

Privilege as Practice:  A Framework for Engaging with Sustainability, Diversity, Privilege, and Power

By Matthew Kolan and Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees

This paper explores the intrinsic but often weakly developed links between sustainability and issues of diversity, power, and privilege. It offers a systems-oriented conceptual framework for exploring and understanding how issues of diversity, power and privilege operate in social-ecological systems. This framework can be used as a learning tool with a wide array of audiences (higher education, organizational development, adult learners) and educational contexts (including but not limited to sustainability education programming).

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Opinion

Back to the Future: Revisiting the “Whole Earth” Concept of Sustainable Tools for 21st Century Education

By Susan L. Stansberry and Edward L. Harris

The “Whole Earth Catalog” (1968-1972) featured a collection of creative ideas, articles, and durable, practical tools promoted from a utilitarian, environmentally conscious, and intellectual perspective. The wisdom inherent in the catalog may be of value to education today, as we seek innovative, timeless, and empowering technologies to promote sustained learning for all. This purpose of this article is to position the discussion of sustainable educational technology tools for 21st Century education within the context of the “Whole Earth” standards: 1) High quality at a reasonable cost, 2) Easily accessible, 3) Useful and relevant to independent or self education, and 4) Capable of launching a cascade of new opportunities.

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Case Study

The role of project based learning in promoting environmental stewardship: A case study of Bahrain Teachers College.

By John Wilkinson

Undergraduate education majors were enrolled in a project based learning methods course in spring 2012. As a culmination, they prepared five year plans to promote environmental stewardship in primary public schools in Bahrain. Since all students plan to eventually teach science in the primary schools, it is hoped they will be able to implement at least some of their plan and foster environmentally friendly habits that last for the lifetime of their students.

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Opinion

Sustainability and Library Management Education

By Deborah Turner

The United States along with many other nations actively support the United Nations agenda to educate the next generation about sustainability. Library and information science (LIS) educators may support this effort by incorporating sustainability concepts into the LIS curriculum. While multiple alternatives exist for this goal, this paper argues and provides ideas integrating sustainability into a course focusing on management, offered, and frequently required, by most American Library Association accredited LIS programs. Discussion explains the meaning of sustainability; the international agenda surrounding it; why LIS programs need to help further the sustainability agenda; and, alternatives for incorporating sustainability into the LIS curriculum.

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Report

Sustainability Education: What’s Politics got to do with it?

By David Meek

This article explores the relation between politics and sustainability education. It draws upon a political ecology of education perspective to analyze how political and economic processes shape the curricular content of sustainability education, environmental behaviors, and processes of ecological change in Brazil. Examples from research on agroecological education within the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) highlight how national level public policies and economic incentives intersect with the MST’s political ideology to influence the creation of sustainability education programs, development of curricular content, and advocacy around land management practices. Scholars, educators, administrators, and community activists are encouraged to draw upon the political ecology of education perspective in negotiating the political nature of sustainability education.

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Case Study

The Love of Art in Correctional Education—Endless Possibilities for Critical Literacy

By Susanne Gardner

Full PDF: Gardner JSE Vol 7 Dec 2014 Abstract:  Finding out what students enjoy most, and designing a teaching curriculum to include those enjoyable activities, is the key to motivation and learning in a nontraditional educational environment.  At the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, ESL students love art expression in any form, thus, the instructor […]

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Scholarly Features

Constructing and Assessing an Introductory Urban Sustainability Course: Applying New Insights Using Survey Research

By Chad Paul Frederick and K. David Pijawka

Introductory urban planning courses provide an effective platform for delivering education for sustainable development (ESD) competencies. As general education courses, they constitute a unique niche for conveying sustainability concepts, theories, and applications to undergraduates. Learning outcomes include new skill sets, such as transdisciplinarity. One vexing question, however, is how to ascertain if ESD is actually being delivered. This paper suggests that instructors can answer this question by building an understanding of their classrooms, students, and objectives over time using simple techniques. We illustrate our course design considerations and our attempts to gain insight by inspecting class assignments and student survey data. We hope to engage readers in a conversation that develops an outcomes assessment paradigm which recognizes the oftentimes hard-to-quantify nature of affective learning outcomes inherent to ESD, and embraces the values of exploration, diversity, and emergence intrinsic to sustainability.

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Case Study

Teaching Sustainability via the Environmental Humanities: Studying Water, Studying Ourselves

By Todd LeVasseur

The dawning anthropocene requires innovation and organizational change across all types of institutions, including in higher education. One area where innovation can occur is in curricula building, and the offering of pertinent classes for sustainability education. This paper approaches sustainability education within the classroom from the perspective of the environmental humanities, focusing especially on the discipline of religion and nature/ecology. Scholarly tools from these domains provide teaching and research opportunities to help build on-campus and campus-community sustainability networks and initiatives. Three readings are analyzed to explore how teaching about sustainability via the environmental humanities is an integral part of campus sustainability initiatives, both in the classroom, in the community, and with facilities. The readings are international in scope and focus on water resource management. It is argued that exposing students to how different cultures conceive of and thus manage the natural world, and specifically fresh water, presents an opportunity for critical reflection and such reflection can help generate best teaching practices for sustainability education. Furthermore, teaching about sustainability via the environmental humanities can allow for interdisciplinary networks to be forged, thus helping higher educational institutions realize their mission and value statements.

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Case Study
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The effectiveness of environmental education for sustainable development based on active teaching and learning at high school level-a case study from Puducherry and Cuddalore regions, India

By R. Alexandar and G. Poyyamoli

India is challenged by the nexus of environmental degradation and economic growth amidst the paradoxical coexistence of poverty and affluence in their multifarious dimensions. These challenges are directly linked with the conservation and maintenance of the life supporting systems such as land, water, air, and biological diversity. The major causes of environmental degradation are population growth, industrialisation, changes in consumption patterns, and poverty threatening the dynamic equilibrium that could exist between people and ecosystems. In an effort to address these issues, environmental education for sustainable development (EESD) is emerging as an important approach to encourage students to conserve and protect the natural environment in their schools and in their neighbourhoods.

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Case Study

Sustainability Across The Australian Curriculum: Will It Remain A Priority?

By Hannah O Connor

The purpose of this article is to articulate the significance of education for sustainable development in order to support the integration of sustainability as a cross-curricular priority within the newly developed Australian Curriculum. An investigation into the implementation of sustainability across the curriculum was carried out in two Australian public schools in order to identify its relevancy to various learning areas. The developmental history of the Australian Curriculum will be explored to contextualize this article within the current socio-political environment. Discussions with teachers suggested that the political agendas surrounding the curriculum had influenced the implementation of sustainability in different learning areas. The school located in the Labor electorate had demonstrated their ability to implement sustainability in all six learning areas investigated. Results from the school located within the Liberal electorate showed that sustainability was less of a priority with the implementation of three out of the six learning areas teaching sustainability organizing ideas to students. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the head of curriculum of both schools and their perception of the environment was determined using Sauvè’s (1992, 1994) typology of conceptions for the environment. Focus group discussions with year seven and ten students had identified conceptions similar to that of their head of curriculum. Students identified environmental issues in their discussions and suggested education, as a means for combating climate change. Students expressed that sustainability was important and did so with concerns for the future.

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Case Study

Teaching Life-Cycle Assessment with Sustainable Minds©- A Discussion with Examples of Student Projects

By Mark Meo, Kelsey Bowman, Kayla Brandt, Madeline Dillner, Dylan Finley, Justin Henry, Kaylie Sedlacek and Aaron Winner

When the Department of Geography at the University of Oklahoma expanded its undergraduate degree options to include Environmental Sustainability in 2011, it was faced with the question of how should the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) core course be taught, and what aspects of LCA should it cover. In addition to the textbook selected for the classroom, it was clear that students would also need to get hands-on experience using LCA in a manner that reinforced and extended the themes taught in class. This dual challenge was resolved with the selection of a readable and easily understood text and the adoption of Sustainable Minds software for the conduct of student projects. In this paper, we describe the manner in which LCA is taught in the classroom and the important role that LCA software has played to help students acquire a working understanding of the merits of the technique as well as its limitations. Examples of student projects that were completed as course assignments are used to illustrate the scope of student interests and accomplishments.

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Case Study

Empowering High School Girls with Eco- Experiential Education: Assessing Glen Stewart Ravine Watershed in Toronto

By Gabriel Roman Ayyavoo, Stephanie Kotiadis, Jolina Marie Cuevas, Kayis Dacanay, Danielle De Silva and Alethea Marciano

This study explores the overall health of the ecosystem at Glen Stewart Ravine in Toronto by the caring high school teenagers. Care for their ecological habitat reminds one of an ancient First Nation’s proverb: ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors but borrow it from our children’. These high school girls were exploring their neighbourhood environment to exhibit social care and joy for the love of student- motivated Scientific Investigative Project -SIP (Ayyavoo, 2013).
Teenage school girls from the inner city care about their immediate environment and acknowledge the interconnectedness of flora and fauna (including plants, animal and humans). The ‘hands-on and minds-on’ challenge inspires students to observe and study their natural habitat in depth to show care to sustain their neighbourhood ecosystem. The adage, ‘we borrow it from our children’, inspires these high school girls to use their scientific strategies to collect a series of biological and chemical test data from their environment. The biological test involved sifting a large net through the running ravine water to classifying the collected macroinvertebrates, while the chemical tests involved measuring the pH level of the ravine in addition to its turbidity levels, oxygen levels, and temperature. The data analysis depicts the health of the ravine, for the moment, at a passable grade. However, in order to maintain this positive state, Glen Stewart Ravine needs to be frequently monitored as new shops and businesses sprout in the nearby surrounding area. The findings of this study may be useful in providing more public awareness on environmental sustainability, care and a community oneness to preserve the ecosystem for the future generation.

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Media Review

A review of the book: Greening the Academy: Ecopedagogy through the Liberal Art

By Aristotelis S. Gkiolmas and Constantine D. Skordoulis

The authors review the book “Greening the Academy: Ecopedagogy through the Liberal Arts”, by Samuel Day Fassbinder, Anthony J. Nocella II and Richard Kahn, from the point of view of Environmental Education, as well as from that of Education for Environmental and Ecological Justice. The review focuses on the importance of the book for tertiary (university level) educational fields. It tries to study the parts of the book within the framework of two major axes transecting all similar – environmental or ecological or justice – educational and research fields: the axis of “old vs. new” and the axis of “local vs. global”.

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Scholarly Features

Education in a Culturally Diverse Post-Secondary Classroom: A Space for Potential Transformative Learning for Sustainability

By Helen I. Lepp Friesen

This conceptual article examines how teaching and learning has changed and continues to change as a result of the increase in cultural diversity in post-secondary classrooms. It focuses on how students’ and instructors’ culture and traditions impact the teaching and learning experience in culturally diverse post-secondary settings. Providing evidence from theoretical perspectives, this review assesses the need for and the potentially transformative nature of education that is sustainable.
English may be the lingua franca on North American university campuses, as well as on many campuses around the world, but since students and instructors come from many different backgrounds, just because English is the predominant language does not necessarily mean that education based on Western principles is the only way to do education. International students and instructors come from countries where education may be conducted differently and since the North American university system requires learning to be demonstrated in certain ways, it puts students that come from different systems at a disadvantage. Therefore it would seem that North American universities could benefit from the tenets of culturally sensitive teaching that Gay (2000) suggests as comprehensive, multidimensional, empowering, transforming, and emancipatory.

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Media Review

Review of Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, by Andrew Ross

By Brock Ternes

Andrew Ross’s Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City outlines the past, present, and future of development for the Phoenix area. He succinctly and compellingly argues that it is not only urban sprawl or rising levels of pollution that render this city unsustainable, but political and business agendas, the commitment to growth, and hostility towards immigrants all contribute to the challenges of maintaining Phoenix.

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Scholarly Features

Urban Sprawl: Definitions, Data, Methods of Measurement, and Environmental Consequences

By Reza Banai and Thomas DePriest

Like sprawl itself, writing about sprawl is scattered in a vast multidisciplinary literature. In this paper we provide a map of what is increasingly known about urban sprawl in emerging literature. This review of progress includes four main parts—definition, data, methods of measurement, and environmental consequences of urban sprawl. The focus of this literature review is to determine whether the aforementioned parts are elements of a connected system in which progress in any one part reflects in others, thereby enhancing knowledge of urban sprawl’s environmental consequences through a cross-fertilization with progress in how sprawl is defined, data are used, and phenomena are measured. We conclude with a discussion of areas of further research that surmounts the shortcomings of a disconnected, epistemic (knowledge) system of definitions, data, and methods, and points toward an explanation of urban sprawl’s environmental consequences. The implications for the education of urban sustainability are noted.

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Report

Comparing Faculty and Student Sustainability Literacy: Are We Fit to Lead?

By Carl Obermiller and April Atwood

Full PDF:  Obermille & Atwood JSE Vol 7 Dec 2014  Abstract: The importance of teaching sustainability literacy is readily accepted, but relatively little attention has been paid to the adequacy or preparation of faculty to accomplish this task.  At Seattle University, samples of incoming students, staff and faculty completed SUSTLIT, a survey of sustainability literacy.  […]

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Scholarly Features

Defining Sustainability in Meaningful Ways for Educators

By David Little

Though many post-secondary institutions are moving to incorporate sustainability education into their courses and programs, some faculty have not felt able or comfortable in this endeavor. Part of this may be rooted in the fact that a quantifiable definition of sustainability that is accessible across disciplines is largely absent in the literature. This work reviews a multitude of definitions of sustainability and frameworks for sustainability across multiple disciplines and synthesizes them into the cohesive Quantifiable Definition of Sustainability. The Quantifiable Definition of Sustainability seeks to eliminate barriers faculty across all disciplines may face to meaningful engagement with sustainability education.

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Media Review

Film Review: Snowpiercer

By Seth D. Baum

Popular fictional films can support sustainability education by bringing sustainability scenarios to life and appealing to wide audiences. One such film is Snowpiercer, a new film set in the aftermath of an environmental catastrophe. In this review, I cover a variety of themes in the film, discussing how they can be used for sustainability education. The themes include the geoengineering catastrophe that serves as the film’s backdrop and the survivor’s struggles to manage their limited resources. As a warning to the reader, the review also gives away the film’s plot.

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Poetic Essay

The Self System Drawing: Teaching a Sustainable Worldview through Creativity

By Elizabeth Meacham

A personal reflection, from the professors’ perspective, of an arts integrated learning tool created to teach systems concepts in college level environmental studies and sustainability courses.

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Scholarly Features

Place-based outdoor learning and environmental sustainability within Australian Primary School

By Amanda Lloyd and Tonia Gray

Learning in the outdoors has significant educational advantages for children in the Primary School years and the need to connect with nature is becoming increasingly prominent in research worldwide. Pro-environmental behaviour, especially in the early years, has been shown to have a causal relationship with connectivity with the natural environment. Place-based outdoor learning promotes a relationship with the natural environment and constructs deep environmental knowledge and understanding of the world that surrounds learners. Embedding Indigenous culture and knowledge into outdoor learning within Primary School programs enables local knowledge and understanding to permeate throughout activities in explicit and experiential ways. A place-based pedagogy recognises the importance of forming intimate relationships with place through regular visitations to the same outdoor environment. One of the many global challenges confronting teachers working in Primary schools is how to implement holistic learning into their educational programs. This paper explores how an Australian case study utilises place-based outdoor learning and environmental sustainability within the school curriculum.

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Case Study

Cook County Green Corps African American Trainee Experience in a Green Job Training Program

By Lena Hatchett, Susan Ask, Nancy Pollard and Loretta Brown

This case study describes the Cook County Green Corps program, a green job training program serving African American young adults from a low-income neighborhood. The program was implemented by an interdisciplinary organizing team to build knowledge, skills, and participation in sustainable jobs and urban agriculture among young adults. The trainees’ experience was documented by a program evaluation survey, environmental knowledge survey, and 1 year reflection interview. We summarize the experiential design, implementation and evaluation of the program. We discuss the limitations and the benefits of the program for trainees and the neighborhood. We share recommendations for future green job training programs that can best serve urban neighborhoods.

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Scholarly Features

Energy information sharing in social networks: The roles of objective knowledge and perceived understanding

By Brian G. Southwell, Joseph J. Murphy, Jan E. DeWaters, Patricia A. LeBaron and Jessica Fitts Willoughby

As sustainability educators and communication professionals consider various strategies to engage audiences with regard to household energy use, one option now seemingly available is to leverage social networks by encouraging people to share information with others they know. At the same time, we currently do not know enough about the potential spread of energy-related information in this fashion. Whether, when, or how people share energy-related information with peers or family members are crucial questions, for example. Using national survey data from U.S. residents (n=816), we predicted energy information sharing as a function of objective energy knowledge (measured using a factual energy knowledge index), perceived energy understanding, and demographic variables. Our analyses underscored the importance of assessing not only factual energy knowledge but also perceived understanding, as both are equally predictive of energy information sharing frequency (β=.11, p<.05, for objective knowledge and β=.11, p<.01 for perceived understanding). Number of children also predicted energy information sharing, β=.11, p<.01. We discuss the implications of these results for informal energy education efforts in the 21st century.

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Essential Elements of Sustainability Education

By Brigitte Bollmann-Zuberbuhler, Patrick Kunz and Ursula Frischknecht-Tobler

PDF: BollmannandKunzandFrishknechtSpring2014 Key words:  Sustainable Development, Systems Thinking, SYSDENE, multi-dimensional Learning Outcomes   Learning Outcomes Enduring Understandings/Big Ideas: Before you even start with Sustainability Education, it is necessary to work on the attribution of significance of Sustainable Development (SD). Pupils, students, teachers or lecturers alike: they all need to recognize sustainability as something important and significant […]

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Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project Education for Sustainability (EFS)

By Jen Cirillo and Emily Hoyler

 PDF:CirilloandHoylerSpring2014 Also see outside source for more information here  Key Words:  Sustainability Education, State of the Field, Shelburne Farms, Alternative Schools, Place-Based Education     Education for sustainability (EFS) is a lens that considers environmental & ecological integrity, economic vitality, and social justice/equity.  Building upon big ideas, such as systems-thinking, interdependence, and community, EFS uses […]

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Essential Elements of Sustainability Education

By Andres Edwards

 PDF:AndresSpring2014   Key Words:  Sustainability Education, State of the Field, EdTracks, Systems Thinking   Learning Outcomes Enduring Understandings/Big Ideas:  Systems thinking, interdependence, human/nature connections, the self and well-being, patterns of nature and of human systems; viable economies, social/equity concerns, stewardship, respect for nature’s limits; regeneration, intergenerational thinking, resilience thinking,  Content Knowledge:  Ecological economics, systems theory, […]

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Designing School for a Sustainable Future

By John Gould

As part of Drexel’s EdD program for Educational Leadership and Change, students participate in a course focused on creativity and leadership. The outcome is to work in teams to conceptualize and redesign schools for the future based on the concepts of ecological and economic sustainability. This doctoral course engages learners in the process of studying creativity and prototyping as a process for rethinking the structure and function of schools.

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Assessing the Effectiveness of Problem and Project Based Learning in a Green Building Design and Construction Course Using ETAC Criteria

By Robert Korenic

Sustainable design practices have become more prevalent in the fields of Civil and Construction Engineering Technology and traditional Civil Engineering. Therefore, educators must prepare the next generation of engineers with courses on sustainable engineering and incorporate sustainable topics into traditional engineering subjects. Such is the case at Youngstown State University where the first course in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was taught Fall semester 2012. The course used the USGBC LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction as the basis for learning. The students were asked to learn the aforementioned USGBC publication through traditional classroom lectures, case studies and projects. Each of the case studies and the final project used Problem and Project Based learning principles to allow the students to gain greater understanding of the material. The effectiveness of this was assessed using ETAC learning outcomes. This was done by choosing specific outcomes to be evaluated and then evaluating each assignment and test based on the outcomes which reflect what the students were supposed to learn. This paper describes the Problem and Project based methodology used and the approach to selecting the ETAC outcomes used to assess the student learning. Also discussed will be the process of setting up and analyzing the rubrics used to get meaningful data and results of the student learning.

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Essential Elements of Sustainability Education

By Lauren G. McClanahan

PDF:McClanahanSpring2014 Abstract:  In this state of the field response, I suggest that Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) be considered a mindset that is necessary for teacher educators understand and incorporate into their daily business of educating our future teachers, regardless of grade level or content area. Key Words:  Education for Sustainable Development, Education for Sustainability, […]

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A Community of Learners, Educators, and Leaders Create Wider Spheres of Influence at Prescott College PhD Program in Sustainability Education

By Pramod Parajuli

PDF:PramodSpring2014 Key Words:  Sustainability Education, State of the Field, Prescott College, Ph.D. Program in Sustainability Education   The problems we are facing are linked. It is not a set of problems. It is a system of problems. Now it is time to look at the system of solutions. – Janine Benyus, Nobel Laureate Symposium, 2011. […]

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