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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 Cerillo and Emily Hoyer

 PDF:CerilloandHoyerSpring2014 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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Essential Elements of Sustainability Education

By Jay Roberts

What distinguishes the approach? Trans-disciplinary thinking, the fact that it is a “Crisis Discipline”, the ethical imperative, the action orientation—these things come to mind. How do we know it is happening? This is where evaluation and assessment are really tough. We are after transformation. How do you assess a “turned soul”? This is difficult. And, especially when the change must be permanent and long-term. How do we assess this longitudinally? Is it just about behavior change? These are difficult questions that I continue to wrestle wit

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Essential Elements of Sustainability in Teacher Education

By Susan Santone, Shari Saunders, and Chris Seguin

This article focuses on defining the proficiencies new teachers need in order to be able to lead in―educating for sustainability‖ (EfS). Educating for sustainability involves teaching and learning collective problem solving skills to address critical environmental, economic, and social issues. This article addresses the essential elements of EfS (content knowledge, skills, behaviors, and dispositions) that need to be taught in teacher education programs so that new teachers can lead implementation of EfS with K-12 students. A set of five EfS proficiency areas are identified. For each proficiency area a brief rationale and literature review are provided, followed by traits of teacher education courses that develop the proficiency area. Evidence of these traits tells us when EfS is happening in pre-service teacher education programs. Alignment of each EfS proficiency area to national teacher InTASC Standards concludes each section.

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Essential Elements of Sustainability Education

By Bora Simmons

PDF:  Simmons Bora JSE May 2014 Learning Outcomes Enduring Understandings/Big Ideas:   NOTE: Much of the environmental literacy framework presented here is from Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning (K-12) (NAAEE 2010 – first published in 1999 and most recently revised in 2010) [http://resources.spaces3.com/89c197bf-e630-42b0-ad9a-91f0bc55c72d.pdf]. Other documents in the Guidelines for Excellenceseries are referenced when appropriate.  [...]

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Education for Sustainability Essentials

By Greg Smith

  PDF:SmithSpring2014   Key words:  Sustainability Education, state of the field, place, community, problem-solving, action When trying to consolidate my thinking about sustainability education in preparation for a talk a few years ago, I asked myself two questions: What is sustainability?  And what kinds of people seem most likely to help humanity move in that [...]

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Designing and Assessing Learning Outcomes: A Framework for Co-Curricular Sustainability Programs

By Heather Spalding, Dilafruz Williams, and Vicki Wise

In recent years, Co-Curricular Sustainability Programs (CoCSPs) have been established at many higher education institutions. However, few such programs have developed learning outcomes or assessment processes to measure the types of learning that are occurring within their programs. This case study creates synthesis between sustainability education and student leadership competencies and shares a place-based framework for designing and assessing learning outcomes. By utilizing learning outcomes and assessment processes, leadership educators can strengthen the effectiveness of their sustainability programs and facilitate transformational learning experiences for students across campus

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At variance with reality: how to re-think our thinking

By Stephen Sterling

Rather than outline my view of Education for Sustainability as such, I attempt here to address here a deeper frame of reference which helps underpin the nature and task of EfS in relation to achieving a more participative consciousness, essential for our times.

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Education for Sustainable Development in China

By Wang Ting

In order to inform humans of the knowledge of the environment and the relationship between humans and nature, it is necessary to introduce sustainability related knowledge to students and educators via education, as the first step toward global sustainability (Wheeler & Bijur, 2000). Education is a way, by which people may find whether their practices are sustainable or not, to inform the knowledge of sustainable practices. Education for sustainable development has been widely developed worldwide, but no research has been done to summarize education development associated with sustainability in China, which is the purpose of this article.

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Core and Essential to Education for Sustainability

By Gilda Wheeler

  PDF:WheelerJSESpring2014 Key Words:  State of the Field; Sustainability Education, State of Washington, Standards WA State K-12 Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Standards Standard 1: Ecological, Social, and Economic Systems Students develop knowledge of the interconnections and interdependency of ecological, social, and economic systems. They demonstrate understanding of how the health of these systems determines the [...]

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A Framework for Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University

By Dilafruz Williams, Heather Burns, and Sybil S. Kelley

In response to the hitherto unchallenged assumptions supporting a globalized economy, the Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) program, formerly Leadership in Ecology, Culture, and Learning, was developed as part of an emerging sustainability movement. This article highlights the favorable conditions that provided the context for the evolution of the LSE program, including organizational policies and practices at Portland State University, and a commitment to community-university partnerships that conveyed the University’s motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City.” We discuss the potential that higher education has to transform practices and ways of thinking necessary for ecological sustainability and social justice. Following this overview, we outline the main elements of the LSE Master’s degree program, including the four key learning areas: self-understanding and commitment, systemic view of the world, bio-cultural relationships, and tools for sustainable change. Additionally, we describe the types of learning experiences and assessment strategies employed throughout the program. We conclude by sharing the key authors and thinkers who influence the program and coursework.

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Sustainability Education: The Community College Perspective

By Anouchka Rachelson

For the past seven years, I have been creating and facilitating professional development workshops focusing on Earth literacy and sustainability for faculty at Miami Dade College (MDC), Florida, the largest community college in the United States. With the support of the college’s Earth Ethics Institute, I organize a lunch and learn series called Wisdom Luncheons, oversee an organic campus garden project, facilitate workshops on sustainability education, and teach graduate classes focusing on sustainability, globalization, education, and Earth literacy for our faculty. 175,000 students currently attend MDC, so the potential to transform the community through education is enormous. It is no surprise then that ideas about sustainability education swirl through my head during most waking hours, and occasionally, they occupy my dreams as well.

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Post your Comments!

By Larry Frolich

Please post your comments below on our “state of the field” data matrix share: Bookmark on Delicious Digg this Recommend on Facebook Tip on Hyves Mixx it up Share via MySpace Share on Orkut Share on Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet this Follow this posts comments

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Editorial

The state of the field–how did we get here?

By Larry Frolich

Dear JSE….viewers? ……visitors? ….interactors?… Well, we know “readers” doesn’t work anymore, and, what I believe will come to be known as the “landmark” issue of JSE, finally fulfills that promise, as we enter into a new world of asking our audience to interact with a rich and, we hope, game-changing content in this, our “State [...]

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Report

Reclaiming Progress by Limiting Economic Growth

By Christopher Haines

The idea of progress was developed during the French Enlightenment as an optimistic belief in human potential encompassing intellectual, physical and spiritual health within an enlightened society working to maximize happiness. Progress became equated to and then supplanted by economic growth, assumed to be the means to that progress. We are now suffering from that assumption. It is time to acknowledge the limitations, the failings and the costs of economic growth as a means to bettering society. We need to take the opportunity, thrust upon us by environmental impacts to de-throne growth in order to reclaim human potential for social progress, increase happiness and maybe even save the planet.

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Editorial

Experiential Education: Many Faces Wearing the Same Expression

By Larry Frolich

I wouldn’t want to try and mimic the elegant, eloquent and erudite arguments that every one of our authors makes for the unsurpassable power of experience in the educational process. In my own discipline, the Biological Sciences, I need look no further than the unstoppable force of the teaching laboratory, to know this truth. How do we get people to change, to do the right thing, to quit smoking, to wear seat belts, to learn something as complicated as heart surgery or sequencing DNA. How do we teach people to become outstanding members of society concerned about improving everyone’s quality of life: we can try teaching it a million different ways, but until they actually do it, the change has yet to happen!

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Opinion

Bridging the Civil Society-Academia Gap: Lessons from the Environmental Movement in Ghana

By Emmanuel Osuteye

Recent systematic studies of the environmental movement in Ghana have revealed an apparent disconnect between environmentally focused civil society organizations and local academia. This disconnect has implications on both the study of the social dimension of environmental issues and the lack of academic literature on the subject. It is my opinion that the bridging of this gap has potential benefits for both civil society and the development of environmental social science.

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Opinion

A Pedagogy for Sustainability Education

By Rick Medrick

Sustainability Education is intended to provide learning, training, and practical experience, in both formal and non-formal settings, that fosters personal development, community involvement, and action for change in our human and natural worlds. Grounded in our experience of the world, Sustainability Education must mirror both the patterns present in our natural environment and the conditions present in our human society with the intention of preparing us for uncertain and rapidly transforming world conditions. Nature is the source of our identity as living beings and society the medium for expressing this. The conditions and needs for our survivability as a species and society will change depending on circumstances and through events that may be outside our control. Our success will depend upon our ability to respond in ways that value personal initiative, responsibility, creativity, commitment, and collaboration with others.

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Opinion

Engaging Learners in Community Service Learning to Enhance Teacher Preparation Curriculum

By Linda Ramey

Project-based community service learning increases the effectiveness of sustainability education and demonstrates the importance of providing children with opportunities to be healthy, happy and eco-literate global citizens. At Wright State University, as students learned environmental and socio-economic content, they became informed citizens who were empowered as local change agents. Insights from these case studies illustrate how we can engage college students to foster skills as informed decision-makers and engaged future teachers. Examples of curricular models are proposed for educators and students to effectively address environmental dilemmas by integrating scientific content knowledge with civic engagement to best prepare sustainably literate citizens.

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Photo Essay

Student sustainability education in action in Latin America and the United States

By Joshua Klaus and Erin Clark

Ecology Project International (EPI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing place-based, ecological education partnerships between local experts and high school students to address critical conservation issues. This photo essay depicts local students in action at EPI’s programs in Baja California Sur – Mexico, the Galapagos Islands – Ecuador, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The photos show students engaging in field science, applied conservation, and sustainability-related activities geared toward helping them develop environmental literacy.

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Report

Graduation Rates of Students Participating on Hurricane Relief Team

By Eric Lassahn

After Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Gulf Coast, Susquehanna University (SU) responded by launching the Hurricane Relief Team (HRT) program. In the past six years, SU has sent 16 teams of 15-20 students each and the program has evolved from a basic volunteer service opportunity into a service-learning experience and later into a two-week, cross-cultural service-learning program. While this study is not designed to determine whether participation in HRT, as a specific program, impacted graduation rates, it is intended to provide support for the correlation between civically engaged students and persistence to graduation. Through this example of a cross-cultural, service-learning program, the examination of graduation rates of HRT participants provides evidence of the potentially transformative nature of the experience as derived from historical data.

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Report

We Teach How We’ve Been Taught: Expeditionary Learning Unshackling Sustainability Education in U.S. Public Schools

By Stephanie Owens

Millions of youth in the United States today are mandated to go to “work” daily. Indoor spaces, hard, plastic seats, and inauthentic menial tasks characterize their workplace. In a time in which the life support systems of our planet are imperiled and more humans are living in communities of poverty and violence, there exists an absurd disconnect between how education is currently practiced and the education that is needed to facilitate deep cultural revolution. Our teachers are taught to teach using the same irrelevant pedagogies, sitting in rows inside institutions of higher learning, taking notes, and memorizing disconnected facts for regurgitation on multiple-choice exams. My argument is that we are not going to be able to implement any true attempts in sustainability education without concomitant change in the way we teach teachers. While publicly funded schools still provide an equalizing agent to potentially provide opportunity for all children regardless of their race or social class, no school can truly educate children to meet the coming demands of our time without experiential teacher education. Expeditionary Learning, a national reform model for public schools, creates lasting change in the praxis of teaching by creating opportunities for teachers to learn in a different way than they have often been taught as students themselves. With continued coaching when they return to their classrooms, teachers are able to create learning environments embodying inquiry and authenticity so that our youth are empowered to affect societal change.

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Report

Sustainability Stew: A Recipe for Problem Framing and Discussion

By Catherine P. Chambers, Erik Koepf, Courtney Lyons, and Matthew L. Druckenmiller

The concepts and practices surrounding sustainability are increasingly the focus of many new post-secondary and graduate education programs. However, the term sustainability refers to a complex mixture of disciplines, methods, contexts, and topics. This complexity is often confusing and can create barriers to learning. Comprehensive understanding of sustainability issues requires that students engage in an active learning process, focusing on context and perspective. Our “Sustainability Stew” curriculum, designed by doctoral students in various fields related to sustainability, is intended to guide sustainability education while offering the freedom to explore complex issues in an active, project-based learning environment. In this paper, we provide background and details for the design of the Sustainability Stew Guide and report results from student surveys on the curriculum itself from one undergraduate sociology course at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (n=37), one community college course at Delaware Technical and Community College (n=11), and one graduate-level research group at the University of Delaware (n=7). Student survey results and instructor reports suggest that the Sustainability Stew curriculum is an effective and innovative approach to sustainability education. Finally, we offer analysis and future directions for similar post-secondary sustainability education. Our objective is to offer a novel exercise to aid educators in teaching and discussing the concepts of sustainability in a way that encourages critical, multi-disciplinary engagement.

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Report

Sustainability capstones: Data-driven, policy-relevant projects to enhance learning

By Elizabeth Shay

Sustainability capstones at UNC-Chapel Hill use the environmental capstone model—senior team projects for clients—to tackle problems with clear social and economic dimensions in addition to environmental. As one of a set of applied-learning course options in sustainability education, capstones draw students into data-driven and policy-relevant research and development, and generate useful products for campus and community clients.

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Media Review

Are We Really Educating about Sustainability?

By Justin Kopppelman

As sustainability peer educator programs continue to develop on college and university campuses, it is important to consider how such programs define and manifest sustainability within their operations. In this article I review a guide, recently published by two international associations, for developing sustainability peer educator programs, and argue that it signals an insufficient approach to sustainability within such programs and that more attention is needed on the economic and social dimensions of sustainability.

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Case Study

Greening the campus through research-to-practice: A case study in experiential education

By Pamela-Jean N. Driza and Maruja Torre Antonini

In order to state their commitment to sustainability, colleges and universities across the United States are signing environmental charters which emphasize the importance of incorporating environmental issues into education, research, operations, and outreach. As a signatory of several charters, the University of Florida (UF) has taken a particular interest in greening their student housing and has made considerable progress in retrofitting a housing stock over 100 years old. However, despite the implementation of sustainable practices throughout their residence buildings the university has continued to identify areas needing further improvement. As participants in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Research to Practice (R2P2) program, which aims to engage the educational community in a variety of on-campus research, a team of UF students and faculty utilized the opportunity to investigate obstacles faced in enhancing student housing performance. This case study reports on the pedagogy used by this team to assess the efficacy of applicable sustainable strategies and the environmentally significant behaviors of residents within three residence halls. This pedagogy aimed to first, involve students in project-based learning (PBL); and second, to provide a service to the university by contributing to its efforts to green the campus. Findings of this study illustrated a number of methods for improving building performance. Additionally, as pedagogy, PBL was found in this study to set the stage for acquisition of Gestaltungskompetenz—the organizational, participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary, and reflection competencies necessary for sustainable development. However, while these findings offer great promise for improving sustainable practices and education, more focused research is needed to explore the challenges and opportunities of their application. Therefore, this study is an invitation to further our exploratory research and continue the discovery of applications for the PBL model in sustainability education.

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Case Study

From Participant to Planner: A Longitudinal Approach to Youth Leadership Development

By Jane Harrison, Kristi Lekies, and Kristen Arnold

This article examines how an experiential education opportunity affected leadership development of a young adult over a five-year time period. The individual participated in a series of authentic environmental leadership activities which emphasized direct experience, peer-to-peer mentoring, and youth-adult partnerships. We illustrate how sustainability educators and planners can engage youth in meaningful leadership activities and encourage long-term leadership cultivation. Challenges to facilitating environmental youth leadership are also addressed, including relating to and providing appropriate support for adolescents and young adults.

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Scholarly Features

Effect of Experience-based School Learning Gardens Professional Development Program Workshop on Teachers’ Attitudes towards Sustainability Education

By Jan Ray, Koh Ming Wei, and Diane Barrett

We are faced with a multitude of environmental challenges today, including sustainable food, water, land, and energy resources. As we strive to understand and address these resource issues, we become keenly aware that there are neither quick fixes nor short-term solutions. Consequently, these resource issues will be handed down from this generation to the next—and to the next—for progressive resolution. Therefore, our students need to have an education grounded in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that will prepare them to become the systems thinkers, critical analyzers, and creative problems solvers that living sustainably on this planet demands. In order to benefit from such an education, our students require teachers who are not only well-trained in STEM concepts and skills but also understand how to create authentic, standards- and experienced-based learning activities for their students in meaningful educational settings. To address this requirement, a year-long, experience-based School Learning Gardens Professional Development Program was created for teachers, implemented by the The Kohala Center’s Hawaiʻi Island School Garden Network on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, and funded through a USDA/SPECA “Ag in the Classroom K-12” grant. This study was conducted with the 29 classroom and school learning garden teachers who participated in the week-long teacher training workshop component of the program. The study examined teachers’ attitudes toward sustainability education before and after the workshop. Teachers’ attitudes were measured using the Teachers’ Attitudes Related to Sustainability Education survey. Findings revealed that there was a statistically significant increase in teachers’ overall attitudes toward sustainability education, as well as their attitudes related to productivity and comfort within sustainability education.

These findings were viewed as an essential first step in assuring that teachers were prepared and willing to provide students with meaningful, experience-based school learning garden activities that hold promise for an environmentally-sound and resource-sustainable future for generations to come.

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Case Study

Enhancing food security through experiential sustainability leadership practices: A study of the Seed to Supper program

By Denissia Withers and Heather Burns

Experiential and inclusive sustainability leadership practices in learning garden programs can lead to increased community food security. This recent study shows that Oregon Food Bank’s Seed to Supper program increases food literacy, builds social capital, and creates opportunities for fostering inclusive leadership in learning garden communities. Through a mixed-methods community-based research process, the study found that learner empowerment through food literacy and sustainability leadership increased access to locally-grown foods for food insecure populations. The leadership model discussed in this paper uses the concept of the web of inclusion (Helgesen, 1990) as a framework for discussing the intricate social networks within the Seed to Supper program.

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Case Study

The Climate and Development Lab: An Experiment in Engaged Education for Global Just Sustainability

By David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts, and Guy Edwards

This article discusses the evolution and work of Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab (CDL). As leaders of the CDL, we engaged students in experiential education while attending the United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico in 2010, and in Durban, South Africa in 2011. Simultaneously, we collaborated with students to provide relevant and timely research and public scholarship oriented by the goal of advancing global justice in international climate change policy. Here we offer a conceptualization of our pedagogy for the CDL, which is a synthesis of two guiding principles: ‘engaged education’ and ‘global just sustainability’. We discuss the ways in which we organized the CDL in relation to this pedagogy and everyday logistics, and reflect upon our accomplishments and the challenges that we faced. We argue that while there are areas where we can improve upon our practice, the potential of this type of learning is considerable, and can be complementary to producing scholarly outputs that contribute to a more just and sustainable world.

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Case Study

A Disciplinary Framework for Teaching Environmental Sustainability

By Shelly Koch and Jesse Freedman

This article presents a case study of a collaborative project between the energy manager and a sociology professor at a small liberal arts college. Introductory sociology students designed and disseminated a survey on energy use at the college and found a disconnect between attitudes and behavior in energy use. While these results were not surprising, this exercise allowed the students to not only learn research methods but students also reported an increasing awareness of their own knowledge and practices in using energy. We believe this type of exercise, using one’s disciplinary methods with an engaged learning project, would be a useful vehicle for teaching sustainability in a variety of disciplines not normally associated with the environment or sustainability.

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Case Study

Integrating Shared Action Learning into Higher Education for Sustainability

By Scott Jiusto, Stephen McCauley, and Jennie Stephens

It is widely acknowledged that the sustainability challenges facing the world require new approaches to teaching and learning. At the community level, however, sustainability priorities are context specific, so prescriptions of what and how to teach for sustainability are limiting. In higher education, one innovative approach to sustainability education that acknowledges the limits of conventional coursework involves courses based on “shared action learning” – a process in which students, faculty, and community sponsors share learning experiences while working on sustainability projects for a specific community. Shared Action Learning can be applied in any community context near or far from campus ranging from the very local campus community to distant settlements across the globe. This paper describes the processes, opportunities and challenges of shared action learning through five stages: (1) project impetus, (2) contextual research and project planning, (3) community engagement and project refinement, (4) action, and (5) reflection and reporting. The roles of students, faculty, sponsors, and communities throughout the semester-long shared action learning project are explored through two examples – a course at Clark University in Worcester, MA that focuses on SAL within the college campus community and a Worcester Polytechnic Institute program through which students work on projects with partners in informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Case Study

Experiencing sustainability education through place: A case-study from rural-regional Australia

By Rebecca Miles

Place-based education is education that is “grounded in the resources, issues, and values of the local community and focuses on using the local community as an integrating context for learning at all levels” (Powers, 2004, p. 17). The purpose for becoming conscious of places in education is to extend “notions of pedagogy and accountability outward, toward places” making learning more relevant to “the lived experiences of students and teachers… so that places matter to educators, students and citizens in tangible ways” (Gruenewald, 2003, p. 620). Although place-based education is interchangeable with a number of terms – community based learning, rural education, project-based learning, service learning, and sustainability education – it encompasses a broad hope by educators to connect student learning to their community and the community to participate in the school (Powers, 2004). Situated within this partnership between school and community fostered through place-based education is the opportunity for rural-regional sustainability. In particular, the case study showcases how a school and community in rural south-east Australia have regenerated a degraded community stock-reserve to ‘tear down’ the school walls (fences) and perform place through the (co)creation of the Flatlands Nature Reserve as a place of protection, regeneration and environmentally sustainable practices. Furthermore, the story of the Flatlands Nature Reserve shows that “place is not only local, specific and static” but can be seen as a ‘revitalizing of the commons’ (Bowers, 2005) which has co-created a place of bio-diversity, regeneration and sustainability education that has fostered rural-regional sustainability.

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Case Study

Curriculum Designing with Sustainability in Mind: Reflections on a Process

By Dan Caston

There are unique challenges in sustainability education that many in administrative and decision-making positions may not fully understand. While there is a general movement toward interdisciplinary curriculum design in colleges and universities, what may truly be needed to effectively address sustainability issues is trans-disciplinary curriculum design. Using my experience in creating the Stewardship Toward Sustainability certificate program at Ferrum College as a launch point, I discuss solutions to overcoming conceptual and political barriers in this process.

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Case Study

Building and boarding a bigger boat together: Learning about sustainability through direct encounters with diverse people in our watershed

By Laura S. Meitzner Yoder, Tom C. Hartzell, Jonathon W. Schramm, and Lisa R. Zinn

Regional movements toward sustainability recognize that we share a common future. An approach to sustainability education infused with social justice requires joining this common endeavor alongside transformational approaches on individual, community, and larger scales. Transformation occurs most deeply through developing personal relationships with others working in these complex areas. Such relationships humanize abstract issues and build empathy, and they also help learners to better understand and describe ways in which they share similar motivations towards sustainability with others who initially seem quite different from themselves. This paper describes how a residential and experiential undergraduate semester in sustainability studies used personal encounters with a diversity of actors in our watershed to illustrate the range of people who must be considered and included in moving toward regional sustainability. Engaging a broad spectrum of people enables students to acknowledge the need to move forward alongside those who are different from and similar to themselves in various ways, redefining “them” as “us” within the watershed.

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Scholarly Features

Lessons Learned from a Geoscience Education Program in an Alaska Native Community

By Richard C. Hugo, Wendy F. Smythe, Sean McAllister, Benjamin Young, Bayta Maring, and Antonio Baptista

laska Native communities depend on customary and traditional use of natural resources for physical, emotional and cultural sustenance, and community members are concerned about threats to local ecosystems posed by logging, mining, overharvesting, invasive species, fresh and marine water pollution, and climate change. To support one community’s efforts to address these concerns, we have developed an experiential geoscience education program for grades 5 – 12 that draws upon both western science and traditional knowledge. In this program we have found that students are best served by a pedagogy that is founded upon community partnerships, focuses on community needs, reinforces cultural traditions, and presents western science and traditional knowledge as equal and complementary bodies of knowledge. This program has contributed to an increased number of high school graduates pursuing college degrees and has been welcomed by the community as an integral component of cultural revitalization.

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Scholarly Features

Sustainability Leadership Programs: Emerging Goals, Methods & Best Practices

By Mike Shriberg and Lindsey MacDonald

Colleges and universities are rushing to respond to an increasingly urgent challenge: developing the next generation of sustainability leaders. Although diverse in program design, teaching methodologies, assumptions, and skills taught, sustainability leadership programs, with experiential education as a core methodology, are rapidly emerging. This study – the first comprehensive attempt to analyze this phenomenon –explores three primary questions via interviews with 20 program directors and analysis of 50 programs’ materials: 1) What program designs and teaching strategies are sustainability leadership programs utilizing? 2) What principles and assumptions underlie these training methodologies? 3) What are the key requisite skills for sustainability leadership development? The analysis reveals that programs currently focus on network-building, systems thinking and project-based learning. Program leaders define sustainability broadly, with an emphasis on social justice. They focus on communication and engagement in defining leadership. Challenges in program design include the tradeoffs of breadth versus depth as well as tradeoffs in training in specific skills versus analytical methods. Programs tend to either focus on leadership with sustainability as one application or sustainability education with leadership as a subtext. Consistent across programs is the emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Best practices for program design include employing experiential learning, integrating disciplines, moving beyond sustainability knowledge, building community, expanding the boundaries of transformational leadership, change agent training, and acquiring specific skills. While the growth of sustainability leadership programs appears slated to continue in the near-term, the lack of effective assessment limits the ability to demonstrate success and may be a barrier to future growth.

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Teaching Sustainability through Adventure

By Jeni Henrickson and Aaron Doering

Adventure has been incorporated into sustainability education in a variety of ways, including through outdoor education and, more recently, through technology-enhanced learning. Technology has, for example, expanded opportunities for experiential learning through adventure as well as allowing learners to journey virtually along with explorers and scientists to the far-reaches of the world. This paper offers an overview of how adventure has traditionally been employed in both formal and informal education, discusses the differences between adventure education and adventure learning, shares research conducted on the role of adventure in the GoNorth! Adventure Learning Series, and advances suggestions for how adventure might be employed in sustainability education using distance, online, and mobile learning. The researchers propose the user-driven adventure learning environment (UDALE) as one model that educators and designers can draw from in both formal and informal learning settings as a means to fuse adventure, technology, and sustainability education in a pedagogically meaningful way.

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Toward Instruments of Assessing Sustainability Knowledge: Assessment development, process, and results from a pilot survey at the University of Maryland

By Nicole Horvath, Mark Stewart, and Marybeth Shea

Colleges and universities strive to educate all students for a sustainable future; however, few institutions assess students’ knowledge of sustainability concepts. Hundreds of institutions are currently measuring their overall sustainability performance using the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS), which offers a boost to an institution’s overall sustainability rating if that institution conducts a “sustainability literacy assessment.” Largely due to the popularity of STARS, many faculty and staff who are involved with campus sustainability management are seeking an easy-to-replicate assessment process and instrument. Researchers at the University of Maryland developed and conducted a sustainability knowledge assessment to meet the needs of their campus and to contribute a model for the greater higher education community. This paper shares the development process, assessment instrument, significant findings, and recommendations for campuses seeking to conduct their own assessment. Correspondence should be directed to the University of Maryland – Office of Sustainability at sustainability@umd.edu

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Employee Engagement: Advancing Organizational Sustainability

By Brooke Moran and Paul Tame

PDF: BrookeMoranSpring2013 Abstract Engaging employees in social and environmental sustainability initiatives “…can improve a business’ bottom line and help it reach its sustainability goals” (NEEF, 2011, p. 14). While some organizations may have sensed this years ago, most are only recently acknowledging how critical employee engagement is to their ultimate success. Presumably, this realization is [...]

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Cities and Regions: The Urban Sustainability, Planning, Pedagogy, and Technology Nexus

By Reza Banai

Two developing strands of a multidisciplinary literature provided an impetus for this paper: 1) the emergence of new regionalism, new urbanism, and smart codes that inform urban planning and design principles and practices for environmental sustainability, and 2) the diffusion of telecommunication and multi-media technologies that facilitate implementation of pedagogic principles in the “classroom.” The emerging urban planning and design paradigms anchor environmental sustainability issues firmly in place and space with an emphasis on the physical form of cities and regions, which, due to induced vehicular travel, is linked to greenhouse gases with consequences for climate change. Innovations that enhance learning in the classroom or the community increasingly embed and diffuse telecommunication and multimedia technologies. The intersections of urban sustainability, planning, pedagogy, and technology are briefly reviewed in this paper. It turns out that urban planning and design paradigms—particularly those with an emphasis on systemic knowledge, holistic views of both the natural and built environments, collaboration, communication, and reflective practice—synergize with environmental sustainability goals. Furthermore, these very features are ingredients for effective education for urban sustainability, particularly in conjunction with advanced telecommunication and multimedia technologies.

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Challenging families to live more sustainably : A multicase study in adopting eco-sustainable habits in the context of family

By Michel Léger

A case-study methodology was used to explore the processes of change as experienced by 18 New Brunswick (Canada) families attempting to lead a more eco-sustainable lifestyle as part of a 6 month long provincial initiative called the NB Family Eco-Challenge. Cross-case thematic analysis of findings revealed the emergence of certain conceptual themes related to families who successfully adopted collective environmental actions. For instance, we note the presence of certain applied competencies in these families, such as a capacity for planning, openness to change and collective efficacy. We also noted that families who succeeded in integrating collective environmental actions shared biospheric values and tended to maintain their chosen actions when part of a support network. Based on these findings, this article concludes by outlining the lessons learned in terms of their potential for a possible educational program for families looking to adopt a more eco-sustainable lifestyle.

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User perceptions of energy consumption in university buildings: A University of Sheffield case study

By Colin Whittle and Christopher Jones

This study investigated the current energy use perceptions and practices of staff and students within five buildings at the University of Sheffield, UK. A series of focus groups with staff and post-graduate representatives from these buildings explored occupant awareness of energy consumption, perceived level of control over energy use, priorities for reduction and the perceived facilitators and barriers to reduction. Overall, personal awareness and attitudes about the need to conserve energy, the perceived actions and opinions of other users (including University authorities) and perceptions of control over the ease and opportunity to reduce energy consumption were perceived by occupants to relate to whether they would intend to conserve energy in University buildings. Recommendations for encouraging energy conservation focus on engendering greater occupant responsibility for conservation by providing a clear conservation message, participating in energy reduction schemes and providing greater energy usage information. Few papers have investigated occupant understanding of energy use in UK University and Higher Education buildings, despite large reduction targets in the sector. This paper recognises the importance that staff and student engagement will have in the successful achievement of these targets and explores their insights and perceptions.

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Making Sustainable Behaviors the Norm at the University of Minnesota Duluth

By Thomas Beery

Interviews with undergraduate students were conducted as part of a follow-up to a survey soliciting information about student engagement in sustainability at a small upper Grea.t Lakes public university. The environmental psychology theoretical foundation for the study presented the potential interdependent role of social and physical conditions to support environmental behavior change. Twelve undergraduate students were interviewed with a goal of gaining additional insight into daily student engagement in sustainability. Hycner’s (1985) guidelines were used for the phenomenological analysis of the interview data. Data were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. The key finding was an affirmation of the idea that we must identify and eliminate barriers in order to support an increase in daily student participation in sustainability. Participants noted convenience as a key factor to consider. Numerous references to “back home” remind us that we need to make our campus function more like a community with systems that support engagement. Reflective analysis of all of the findings leads to a discussion of how this particular university can achieve the intent of its core value of sustainability. It is proposed that this university put more energy into changing norms than changing attitudes. Heberlein’s (2012) behavior change guidelines are used to provide a strategy for addressing behavior change via an emphasis on normative behavior. Facilitating sustainability actions as normative behavior may be an effective first step in long-term attitudinal change.

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