Archive: Departments

M31, Andromeda Galaxy, photo: Hubble/NASA

Hope in the Liminal State

By Mary Jackson

Abstract: Inspired by the entanglements of the Cosmos, this essay is a response to the JSE special call for papers on future casting sustainability education. The author’s approach reflects an integrated view of humans, moving beyond Anthropocene, capitalism, and Donald Trump to the idea of the Chthulucene, an era of reciprocity amongst human and more-than-human. In challenging times, such as this, sustainability education can look towards the future through hopeful pedagogies of interconnection through reciprocity, storytelling, and embracing the bio-cultural diversity of Earth.

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The Future of Sustainability in Higher Education

By Nathan Hensley

Abstract: In this article, I explore the future of higher education within the context of teaching and learning for sustainability. Challenges currently facing sustainability education are identified along with opportunities to face these challenges in ways that are transdisciplinary and holistic. I make the case that envisioning the future of sustainability education enables practitioners and educational theorists to better meet the needs of today’s generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). My vision of the future of sustainability education in higher education is grounded in transformative, experiential, and place-based approaches. Engaging students in authentic inquiry in the classroom enables students to become better citizens and stronger problem solvers within the context of sustainability and beyond.

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Deepening Our Craft: February 2017 General Issue

By Clare Hintz

Welcome to the February 2017 General Edition of the Journal of Sustainability Education!

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Reframing Humankind’s Relationship with Nature: Contributions from Social Exchange Theory

By Keri Schwab, Daniel Dustin and Kelly Bricker

Abstract: In this paper we compare and contrast the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1985) with Social Exchange Theory (Homans, 1958) as conceptual foundations for eliciting pro-environmental behavior. We reason that Social Exchange Theory provides the better orientation because of its metaphorical power in casting humankind as being in a reciprocal relationship with nature rather than being in a superior position over nature. We illustrate our thinking by discussing ecosystem services (Melillo & Sala, 2008) as nature’s contribution to humankind in return for humankind’s responsible environmental stewardship.

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Encouraging Revolving Door Usage in a Mixed-Use Building: The Influence of Visual Prompts and Descriptive Social Norms

By Jeffrey Louis Perrin and Perrin Dumar

Abstract: This field experiment investigated effects of a descriptive norms-based sign combined with five footprint sticker decal prompts directing individuals to help save energy by using a revolving door, as opposed to a swing door, to exit a mixed-use building. We found that the percentage of individuals using the revolving door increased in both conditions (weekday and weekend day) after we implemented the sign and decals. Notable considerations in creating descriptive norms-based signage to encourage environmentally responsible behavior in mixed use buildings are discussed.

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Increasing a Sense of Place Using Blended Online and On Site Learning

By Tina L. Salata

Abstract: Finding time for place-based instruction can be difficult using a traditional ground classroom or online format. This is a case study report showing how blending the two modalities can increase opportunities to go more in depth on environmental topics. This blending of both classroom and online creates a sense of place and encourages teaching with multiple learning styles. The increased classroom flexibility allows more individualized instruction for student’s needs and interests. This report will share how an environmental biology class implemented a blended learning class over two semesters. Results of this pilot show an increased student effort by allowing for more varied learning about the local environment.

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Making Sustainable Development Real Through Role-Play: “The Mekong Game” Example

By Andrew Perlstein, Michael Mortimer, David Robertson and Holly Wise

Abstract:
This paper describes a role-playing, negotiation “game” based on the Xayaburi Dam in Laos. We have used this activity in our graduate programs as a tool for bringing to life the complexities of decision-making around natural resources, economic development, and sustainability. Over the past several years of using the game in the classroom, we have found it to be an effective means of exposing students to the kinds of opportunities and constraints that different stakeholders face as well as the kinds of communication and negotiation tactics they might use to influence outcomes. We provide background on the real-world situation on which we based the fictional scenario for the game and discuss the learning outcomes we have observed.

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Learning for Sustainable Development: Integrating Environmental Education in the Curriculum of Ordinary Secondary Schools in Tanzania

By Beatus Mwendwa

Abstract
The study assesses the extent to which curriculum of secondary schools in Tanzania addresses sustainable education through integration of environmental education. Specifically, it evaluates the subjects used to deliver environmental education in secondary school. Also the study found out perceptions, challenges, and recommendations for implementing environmental education. This research adopted a case study, qualitative approach to study the subject matter in its natural settings while making sense of the contents of the subjects and perceptions of stakeholders. Cross sectional, stratified sampling involved both students from all classes, experienced teachers in geography and biology and a head teacher as well. It was found that most environmental education competencies are delivered mainly through the geography subject, and some in biology using an integrated teaching approach. Students and teachers were fairly knowledgeable and had understanding of basic environmental issues. Main challenges facing implementation of environmental education included an integrated learning approach, inadequate knowledge on environmental education, lack of support from each other and from school administration, and cultural myths and beliefs.

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Climate change communication beyond the ‘ivory tower’: A case study about the development, application and evaluation of a science-education approach to communicate climate change to young people

By Maximilian Riede, Lars Keller, Anna Oberrauch and Steffen Link

Abstract: The aim of this case study was to develop, apply and evaluate a science-education workshop format to communicate climate change to young people. Based on current theory in climate change communication and Education for Sustainable Development, the workshop has been applied in different contexts with more than 300 children and teenagers. A specification of the consecutive steps should help practitioners to use the workshop in their contexts. While results of the application of the workshop should give an insight into what can be expected from the workshop, an impact assessment of the participants who took place in the workshop outlines the effects it has on students. This paper does not only provide hands-on advice on how theoretical climate change communication knowledge can be translated into action, it also outlines the impacts of the described workshop.

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Constructing Nature

By Garrett Hansen

Abstract: As native Midwestern prairie and savannah landscapes continue to be destroyed, some environmentalists are working to reconstruct the prairie and savanna ecosystems that greeted European settlers a century and a half ago. This series of photographs engages those reconstructed landscapes and considers the fundamental question of what we consider natural. As many of these sites are used for educational and scientific purposes, this series also engages how the arts can contribute to our understanding of place.

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The new “Three Rs” in an Age of Climate Change: Reclamation, Resilience, and Regeneration as Possible Approaches for Climate-Responsive Environmental and Sustainability Education

By Marna Hauk

Abstract: This thought piece proposes the adoption of a new “3 Rs” to inform a climate-responsive environmental and sustainability education (CRESE): reclamation, resilience, and regeneration. As a changing climate becomes the larger campus of our learning, denial and top-down emergency preparedness both prove to be insufficient. We are invited into a deeper approach. Reclamation and resilience fold in (1) the saving of enduring biocultural lifeways and patterns and (2) the dynamic flux-states of panarchic socioecological resilience models. These two partner with (3) regeneration: context-responsive social collaborations; eco-socially-embedded capacity building systems; and the promise of regenerative design. These three approaches allow us to re-envision educational systems and encounters that are proactive rather than only reactive or responsive in metabolizing persistent climatic volatility. These three approaches – reclamation, resilience, and regeneration – echo the three approaches to climate change that Pelling has suggested (2009) – mitigation, adaptation, and transformation. Note, however, unlike Pelling’s model, these approaches are conceived as simultaneously requisite literacies and movements rather than as competing. Reclamation, resilience, and regeneration represent ever-more-complex types of capacities and support capacity building aimed together toward life-supportive, dynamic, complex systems transformations. Environmental and sustainability education that fosters skills of reclamation includes preservation, conservation, recording, and the establishment of libraries and sanctuaries of exemplar systems. Environmental and sustainability education (ESE) for resilience includes network extension and adaptive capacity building. ESE for regeneration nurtures emergent complex systems metacognitions, creativities, and transformative, transgressive social approaches that are connective, disruptive, and innovative and model and embody complex emergence. Regenerative ESE fosters skills to facilitate catalysis of emergent regeneration, self-organization, and transformation into more complex living systems. All of these position embedded learners in pro-active, systems-intensive embodiments of the types of living networks that foster survival, flexibility, thriving, and phase-change during our entry into a time of consistent climate turbulence.

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Alive, Survive, Strive, Thrive: A Grounded Conceptual Sustainability Taxonomy

By Kenneth W. Borland

Abstract: A conceptual sustainability taxonomy has been needed to better communicate the value of sustainability, to align sustainability scholars’ theories and sustainability educators’ practices, and to develop curriculum, teaching, learning, and assessment to enhance college students’ comprehension of and commitment to sustainability across general, major, and co-curriculum. Original conceptual research, including the grounding of a conceptual sustainability taxonomy with early career student affairs educators in higher education, presents a grounded conceptual sustainability taxonomy (Alive, Survive, Strive, Thrive) for educating college students and initiating scholar-practitioner contemplation, discussion, and research.

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Learning through place: Evaluation of a professional development program for understanding the impact of place-based education and teacher continuing education needs

By Katherine Linnemanstons and Catherine Jordan

We report an evaluation of a place-based education (PBE) teacher professional development program that aimed to understand the perceived impact of PBE on students and teachers, constraints to implementation of PBE in schools, and strengths and limitations of the professional development program, as identified by teachers. Nine teachers, the full 2014 cohort of participants in Wilderness Inquiry’s PBE professional development program, completed a written reflection exercise and were interviewed following the implementation of a PBE lesson or unit developed as part of their professional development program. Findings indicate that teachers perceived PBE to have several important impacts on students, including stronger engagement in learning, enhanced collaboration, and heightened significance for the concepts learned. Teachers also perceived impact on themselves, including professional growth, sense of fulfillment and an expanded repertoire of teaching approaches. However, there were perceived constraints to implementing PBE, including support from peers and administrators, time, money, weather, and the composition of the class. This research adds to a growing body of research reporting positive impacts of PBE. Teachers’ feedback on the professional development program highlighted specific aspects of an effective professional development program. An enhanced understanding of the benefits of and challenges to PBE and program characteristics that maximize teachers’ time at a professional development program will help educators and curriculum developers to better support, develop, and encourage the implementation of PBE in standardized curriculum.

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Immerse in Your Watershed: Problem-Based, Service Learning for Undergraduate Sustainability Education

By Dina Chammas-Gass

This case study describes a problem-based and service learning module in which undergraduate students participated in a community-based project. Students joined a group consisting of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public and private organizations, concerned citizens, and city officials to tackle issues concerning the local watershed. The case study took place over a number of years from 2014 to 2016 and will continue in subsequent academic years with a new group of multidisciplinary students.
Students put together documentation for a grant application that resulted in the city receiving $2.5 million dollars in grant money towards sustainable stormwater management systems. This aspect of the project included extensive data collection and analysis, much like the kind of work water conservationist in the field would perform. Students continued the work by using the data to plan and design appropriate, site-specific best management practices (BMPs) for the campus and in subsequent courses will implement these designs on site.
The mode of instruction described in this case study proved quite engaging to the students because it put them in the heart of an actual local project, doing work that was removed from a purely academic exercise – thereby offering a real-world scenario as field employees. The goal is to provide hands-on instruction that inspires and engages students and allows them to apply concepts of watershed management as a service to their local community.

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Examining the Influence of Outdoor Recreation, Employment, and Demographic Variables on the Human-Nature Relationship

By Kelly Cartwright and Denise Mitten

The human-nature relationship can be quantified using connection to nature indicators. A mail survey of conservation gardeners (n = 180) provided insight into four such indicators (Connectedness to Nature Scale, Nature Relatedness Scale, Environmental Motives Scale, and Inclusion of Nature in Self Scale). The indicators selected allowed for the evaluation of nine parameters in relationship to the outdoor recreation, employment, and demographic characteristics of individuals. The outdoor recreation categories resulted in the highest number of significant relationships. Non-consumptive activities, such as bird watching and hiking, were positively correlated with indicators reflecting equality with nature. Consumptive activities (fishing, hunting) and those requiring equipment or movement away from home (backpacking, camping, and kayaking) were positively correlated with indicators reflecting comfort in large-scale nature. The employment and demographic variables had few significant relationships; volunteering demonstrated weak positive relationships with several indicators, as did female gender. This research provides information about the indicators in terms of what they reflect and how they may be influenced by a person’s background.

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Sustainability education and radical possibilities: A book review of David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa’s Sustainability frontiers: Critical and transformative voices from the borderlands of sustainability education

By Jay Shuttleworth

Sustainability education examines the confluence between society, environment, and economy. Yet, an overemphasis on economy has historically trumped attention to the other sphere’s needs. Such an imbalance, editors David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa argue, calls for a radical reconceptualization of sustainability education. In their book, Sustainability Education Frontiers: Critical Transformative Voices from the Borderlands of Sustainability Education, they invite authors from ten different countries to discuss how sustainability education can be transformed to meet the needs of a diverse and interconnected world.

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Case Studies in Sustainable Social Work: MSW Students Explore Principles in Practice

By Kevin Jones, Lindsay Merritt, Ashley Brown, Shelby Davidson, Diana Nulliner, Jennine Smart, Lisa Walden and Nick Winges-Yanez

In 1999, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the United States published a policy statement on the environment that acknowledged the social work profession’s apparent “lack of interest” in environmental issues, and called for a new urgency among social workers to address the challenges of pollution, environmental contamination, and resource depletion. Despite this call for urgency and the increasing certainty of widespread social and environmental crises due to climate change, the integration of ecological concepts into mainstream social work education and practice has been slow and sporadic. Only recently have some social workers begun to openly discuss a re-centering of social work within a sustainability paradigm, emphasizing the importance of interconnectedness among humans and the natural world, interdisciplinary alliances and partnerships, and holistic justice-focused practice. This paper explores the potential for a case study assignment in a Master of Social Work (MSW) program to help make explicit connections between sustainability concepts introduced in the classroom and the practical application of these concepts in a wide range of social work practice settings. Three sample case studies from students are presented, and advantages and challenges of this pedagogical approach are discussed.

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Book Review of Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems

By Jeremy Solin

In this book review the author summarized the text, Systems thinking made simple: New hope for solving wicked problems by Derek and Laura Cabrera (2015). In the text, cognitive thought is described as a complex adaptive system and four simple rules of thinking are included as an approach to problem solving.

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A Sustainability Performance Assessment Tool: The SPA System

By Dorothy Paun, Shannon Bray, Tomoki Yamaguchi and Simiao You

Stakeholders have become increasingly vocal about companies’ sustainability impacts, and corporations have responded by issuing sustainability reports that discuss and gauge performance metrics for a variety of social and environmental dimensions. These corporate sustainability reports are public domain and contain a wealth of longitudinal data that could be used by stakeholders, including educators and students. However, these reports appear to be vastly underutilized due to insufficient knowledge of and skills for assessing corporate sustainability information. This article presents the SPA (Sustainability Performance Assessment) System (Paun 2015), an educational tool for mentoring students in corporate sustainability performance research. The Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 framework forms the model underlying SPA. A student learning outcomes survey reported that 96% of the respondents said the SPA System reduced sustainability report complexity through enhancing their sustainability knowledge and/or analytical skills. More specifically, student feedback indicated an increased understanding of sustainability both as a concept and from a business perspective, and the improved ability to assess and compare corporate sustainability performance based on sustainability report information and data.

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“Don’t Step on the Ants!” Biomimetic Pedagogy for Sustainability in a Costa Rica Study Away Experience

By Cosette Marie Armstrong

Abstract: This case example outlines a study away experience in Costa Rica focused around the Life Principles of Biomimicry for the purpose of stimulating connection with and affection for nature. Janine Benyus (1997), author or Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, has long been cited for her declaration that affection is conservation’s linchpin. To address the tendency of some sustainability learning to propel learners into fear and despair, this learning experience was centered around positive solutions and emotional inspiration in nature. An outline of lesson plans, assignments, and activities all designed to foster affection for nature are outlined here for other educators who wish to foster the affective domain in sustainability learning.

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Education for a Sustainable Future: Benchmarks for Individual and Social Learning

By Jaimie Cloud

This document is a provisional draft that has emerged out of an initial “State of the Field” issue and database, published in JSE in 2014 and a follow-up conference in Winter of 2015.

Jaimie Cloud of the Cloud Institute has been the lead organizer and author of this document. See the opening pages for the large number of additional contributors.

A process for comment and revision will be announced during Spring/summer 2016.

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Applying AASHE STARS to Examine Geography’s “Sense of Place” in Sustainability Education

By Makayla J. Bonney and Leslie Duram

Abstract: Geography supports place-based inquiry for the learner, applying the old environmental adage of “think globally, act locally” to environmental problem solving. Many within and outside of the discipline of geography see it as a highly appropriate home for sustainability studies. Yet despite a history of human-environment education, place-based relevancy, and support from professional research or education organizations, studies show that geography does not always take a lead role in sustainability education. In the following, we revisit the contested histories of geography and sustainability education and show support for geography-led sustainability curriculum. The scope of this research is universities which have self-identified as leaders in campus sustainability, using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) participation as an indicator. To best understand the current relationship of geography and sustainability studies in higher education, this study examines the role of geography in offering “Sustainability Focused” courses as reported by AASHE STARS institutions with geography programs. The results show that although geography departments are highly utilized when present at an institution, there is still much room for improvement both within geography departments and campus-wide. We then discuss the implication of these findings, both for the discipline of geography and for students of sustainability.

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Place and Resilience: Editors’ Introduction

By Chiara D'Amore, Clare Hintz, Cirien Saadeh and Jeremy Solin

Just as place scholarship reaches across and through many disciplines, so this issue ranges widely, including 14 scholarly features as well as media reviews, case studies, photo and poetic essays, and sustainability journeys. Disciplinary lenses include the arts, sociology, philosophy, natural resource management, sports science, and archaeology, among others.

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Figura 8 - Construcción semi-subterranea del Museo Ortles al pie de los Alpes

Los Museos De Montaña De Reinhold Messner Identidad, Turismo Y Sustentabilidad En Los Alpes De Sud Tirol

By Constanza Ceruti

This paper describes a group of mountain museums set amidst the Eastern Alps and the Dolomites, considering their significance for the cultural identity, heritage education and sustainable tourism in South Tirol. The importance of the Mountain Museums is analyzed in connection to their setting and to the development of the communities in the area. The exhibits are analyzed considering their role in the construction of a regional identity and in the education towards the appreciation and preservation of the natural and cultural heritage of mountains, locally and worldwide. For the purpose of this research, the author visited the six buildings belonging to the net of the Messner Mountain Museum and she conversed with the director, Mr. Reinhold Messner, who is often credited as the most remarkable alpinist in history.

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The Hualapai Ethnobotany Youth Project

By Carrie Calisay Cannon

Many people believe the desert is a harsh forsaken place, but for the Hualapai Tribal people of Northern AZ it is home; a place where every plant has a name, a purpose, and a story. The Hualapai Ethnobotany Youth Project is celebrating its tenth year of existence. It is an intergenerational program bringing Tribal elders and youth together to share about the plants that sustained the people for millennia.

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The City of Roses—Pasadena City College and the Chemistry Research Laboratories

By Jillian L. Blatti, Anthony F. Cuccinello, Betsy Juarez, William Liang, Jianyi Lu, Nikolai Massine, Jennifer Portillo, Elliot Pourmand, Anakany Ramirez, Vanessa Sanchez and Carina Sepulveda-Torres

As a background for these student responses, I would first like to describe the distinguished program they are a part of at Pasadena City College (PCC). The Early Career Undergraduate Research Experience (eCURe) is a program at PCC that provides students with an undergraduate research experience in the natural or physical sciences at the onset of their scientific careers. This unique experience inspires enthusiasm for scientific research by introducing students to research projects with broader impact in terms of sustainability, energy, the environment and emerging scientific technologies. In this particular eCURe research group led by Dr. Jillian L. Blatti, students have devised methods of synthesizing sustainable paints and testing their resultant properties; they have transposed their tested methods into lesson plans to engage local high schools in scientific outreach efforts, inspiring the next generation of scientists and science educators in sustainability education. As part of this outreach effort, students collaborated with Penn State University’s Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network in their Remotely Accessible Instruments for Nanotechnology (RAIN) program to bring hands-on experience with advanced analytical equipment to high school students via the Internet, including a scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope, which they used to analyze sustainable paints they crafted in the classroom. In these highly interdisciplinary and collaborative projects, PCC students are learning to integrate concepts from their science courses into a research-based setting, generating novel questions, designing experiments, analyzing the results, and communicating their science to a broad audience. This innovative community college research program has inspired our students at PCC to continue scientific research in sustainability that they have become passionate about as they transfer to four-year institutions. What follows is accounts of chemical research in sustainability in the chemistry research laboratories at Pasadena City College, the eCURe students’ ‘sense of place’, and how it impacted their views on sustainability research and education.

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Teaching Issues of Inequality Through a Critical Pedagogy of Place

By Anthony Barnum and Jason Illara

This paper examines the conceptualization and implementation of teaching inequality through placed-based and experiential learning while focusing on issues that impact the sustainability of communities through the effects of the social and historical constructs of race, class, and gender. The goal is to push students to rethink issues of sustainability in a more holistic way including social, economic, and political aspects to sustainability. In turn, students are empowered through a Freirian pedagogy to become “student-teachers” for the society in which they live in partnership with a local community organization to create public interactive history exhibits that create educational opportunities to both identify and document historical and current inequalities and their effects on the present moment and to encourage the community to engage with and analyze their own history in a manner to create meaningful dialogue and public discussion for the creation of a more equitable and sustainable society.

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Open Spaces of Democracy: Connecting Students, Wilderness, and Community through Experiential Learning

By Eric Morgan

Chronicling a semester-long civic engagement project, this essay explores the efforts of a senior seminar course to collaborate with a local wilderness preservation organization. The essay reflects on the role of students in their communities, their connections to wilderness, and the challenges and rewards of civic engagement.

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Photo Credit: Evan Loney

Mauna a Wakea: Reconfiguring Our Sense of Place

By Kimberley Greeson and Evan Loney

Abstract: This photo essay reflects one sense of place from Mauna Kea.

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Design Team:  Shannon Lecher and Alex Gillis

A Word on Place : Altering the Meaning of Place with Typographic Installations

By Matthew Groshek

Abstract: With the challenge of exploring a particular rural site and responding with installations of type, students investigate the intersection of place, preconception, knowledge, experience and design. With a project named 4 (or 5) letters in a field, student teams participate with the changing conditions of a site and audience to alter the meaning of a place.

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The Invention of Place: Alexander von Humboldt and the Meaning of Home

By Julie Dunlap

Book review for The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf

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How We Came to Inhabit These Spaces: Reflections on the Role of Place in Our Individual and Collective Journeys as Emerging Sustainability Scholars

By Kathleen Aikens, Naomi Maina, Ana-Maria Bogdan and Hardi Shahadu

This paper provides a descriptive analysis of the experience of four doctoral students engaged in a collective project of place exploration at a midsize Canadian university. Under the methodological tradition of self-study, we contextualize concepts of place attachment and decolonization in order to investigate what it means to be interdisciplinary scholars of sustainability. We use storytelling and mobile discussion methods, alongside visual and mapping methods to disentangle our experiences and analyses of place, mobility, land, and scholarship. This reflective piece demonstrates that collaborative forms of scholarship such as this require deliberate moves toward community creation and place attachment within institutions of higher education. Through a process of collaborative investigation and writing, we have created spaces of caring academic scholarship rather than engaging in competitive and hierarchical university culture.

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Teiitooniine’etii: To Live Quietly, Live Calmly

By Iva Moss Redman, Mike Redman and Teresa Cavazos Cohn

While place and culture endure, place and culture both change. This paper focuses on
the ways this paradox has shaped the idea of “resilience” for the Northern Arapaho people, and
the ways in which we have used it to guide educational programs. We first introduce “place” and
what it means to the Northern Arapaho people. We then offer three examples of culturally
responsive place-based programs that involve photography and changing technology. Finally, we
discuss the Arapaho word teiitooniine’etii (to live quietly, live calmly) and suggest that in both
enduring values, and adaptation to new technologies and times, we find resilience as a people.

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Postcard from the Ballona Creek Watershed

By Nicole Lawson

This postcard is inspired by my dissertation research at the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area and Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles. I spent many months observing student tours and frequently was struck by many of the reactions and observations I mentioned in my postcard.

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Hello from Columbia, Maryland

By Chiara D'Amore

This “post card” reflects on the “senders” experiences of playing in nature during her childhood, her return to that same community with children of her own, observations about changing patterns of children’s free-play in nature, and the inspiration for and experiences of creating a family nature club to help families in her community connect with their social and ecological communities.

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Friends from the education-creation centre in Cinco de Junio (known as el Centro de Formación de Sabidurias Ancestrales “Herederos de la Pachamama”) in Cotopaxi province, Ecuador. 
Photo by Tristan Partridge.

Inheriting Struggle and Forming the Future: Indigenous Education-Creation Centres in Highland Ecuador

By Tristan Partridge

This article relates experiences with two informal education centres established in indigenous communities in Ecuador’s central highlands to the dynamics and ideas of ‘ecopedagogy’, suggesting that the critical, reflective and cooperative actions undertaken in these centres speak constructively to the liberatory and justice-focused practices of ‘Earth pedagogy,’ and to the development those practices foster of skills for a just and sustainable way-of-life. It draws on ethnographic fieldwork in the region that focused on indigenous struggle, land-related conflicts and water justice, and develops the idea of ‘to inherit/intend’ to capture the emergent qualities of ‘place’ as experienced in these two particular locales. Both ‘Centros de Formación’ – Education-Creation Centres – pursue conscious attempts to direct education toward a reflective engagement with place, position and struggles for social justice. In the process, they offer insights for processes of cooperation and resistance that counteract domination and marginalization.

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The Role of Sense of Place in Collaborative Planning

By Aaron Thompson and Linda Prokopy

This paper focuses on understanding the collaborative process as a critical aspect of building community capacity to respond to change and uncertainty in the landscape. Can focusing on place-based relationship building enhance a community’s ability to make difficult land use decisions? Collaborative initiatives to preserve farmland and open space have emerged as a process that supports local involvement and ownership of community decisions; however, the variable success of these initiatives highlights the need to evaluate what factors influence individual support for collaboration. This study uses a case study to examine the role of sense of place, as well as other attitudinal and demographic factors, in determining support for collaborative efforts to preserve farmland. Drawing on analysis of responses to a survey of residents in Harrison County, Indiana from a period when the community faced intense growth pressures that threaten unique natural resources and farmland. The findings demonstrate that an individual’s sense of place and environmental attitudes positively influence support for key steps in the collaborative process, including the acceptance of strategies to address farmland loss.

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The Promise of an Energy Tracker Curriculum for Promoting Home-School Connections and Youth Agency in Climate Action

By Elizabeth Walsh, Derek Jenkins and Eugene Cordero

Formal classroom learning experiences that support sustainable behaviors outside the classroom necessarily must bridge students’ home and school lives, as knowledge and practice learned in the classroom is implemented outside of school. To this end, we study the impact of the Green Ninja Energy Tracker curriculum, which uses students’ home energy data in the classroom to promote engagement in climate change and conservation behaviors. Data is drawn from class observations, a focus group, and pre- and post- surveys of a pilot implementation of this curriculum in a diverse 12th-grade Earth Science classroom at an alternative school. We investigate what factors contributed to student engagement in learning about and participating in energy conservation behaviors. We found that students were engaged by the immediacy of tracking their energy use in near-real time, and were motivated by the economic benefits experienced as a direct result of changing their behaviors. In addition, students reported discussing and problem-solving energy use with their families, and surfaced considerations that informed which energy behaviors were implemented and why. Students also reported high levels of personal agency in taking action on climate change, but were pessimistic about the likelihood of society as a whole taking action. We suggest that this pilot demonstrates the potential power of connecting the varied places of students’ experience by bridging home and school lives through energy tracker software as a catalyst for developing scientific expertise and engagement, and supporting energy conservation behaviors.

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photo credit: New England Climate Adaptation Project team

Leveraging Place for Critical Sustainability Education: The Promise of Participatory Action Research

By Adrienne Cachelin, Jeff Rose and Danya Rumore

Effective sustainability education is constrained, in part, by an inability to consistently define what it is, who it is for, and how it can best address present-day concerns. Often reduced to a set of behaviors with a future orientation for intergenerational security, sustainability loses the immediacy and importance of issues like hunger, homelessness, and the impact of toxic industry practices on real people in real communities, despite the fact that these all represent foundational aspects of sustainability. Critical sustainability harnesses place and community to make connections between equity, ecology and economy explicit. Requiring a deep connection with the socio-ecological landscapes of our experiences, critical sustainability utilizes individual and community identities in working towards resilience. In this paper, we explore the ways that participatory action research (PAR) can leverage place and community to disrupt systems of power and privilege and demonstrate this approach as both effective pedagogy and a powerful orientation toward addressing community-level climate change adaptation. We contend that critical sustainability education requires sincere engagement with place, along with the shared, community-driven knowledge production that is the cornerstone of PAR.

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Placing Local Food Systems: Farm Tours as Place-Based Sustainability Education

By Laura Johnson, Gary Schnakenberg and Nicholas Perdue

Place can be understood as space endowed with meaning, evoking notions of difference, connection, attachment, and emotion. As processes of modernity and globalization have increasingly homogenized cultural and natural landscapes, place is said to be ‘thinning’ or lost, linked to widening rifts between social and natural worlds. Such homogenization globally has sparked concerns, as people perceive landscape loss and increasing socio-ecological injustices. One such system of homogenization and unsustainability is industrial agriculture, a system that has shifted smaller scale, place-based, and diverse food systems to a global, mechanized one, distancing production from consumption, disrupting communities, and obscuring awareness, understanding, and care.

Yet, as consumer awareness increases and people desire to know where their food comes from and who produced it, inclusive place-based food systems can provide reconnections amongst producers, consumers, community, and the more-than-human world. In this paper, stemming from research in western North Carolina, we bring together literature from scholars of place, agro-food studies, education, and tourism to investigate the role of place in local food systems as well as the potential of small-scale sustainable agricultural places to serve as important educational spaces via community-based farm tourism. To better understand such potential, we draw on a study of the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture High Country Farm Tour, an annual tour of small-scale sustainable working farms in the North Carolina High Country. Delving into participating producers’ philosophies, practices, and stories reveals passionate sustainable producers firmly rooted in place, while exploring consumer motivations for and impacts of participation makes a strong case for community-based farm tourism and other environmental tourism projects as an avenue for place-based education, community socio-ecological resilience, and sustainability across scales.

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Infrastructures for Grace: Meditations on regenerative design praxis in gentrifying urban landscapes

By Elizabeth Walsh

In consideration of the possibilities for place-based learning and resilience, this article offers reflections from the author’s praxis in regenerative neighborhood development in Austin, Texas from 2006 to 2015. Consistent with the themes of the Winter 2015 issue, the article considers psychological, social, political, and economic dimensions of place-based engagement, citizen action, and stewardship within the particular context of gentrifying urban landscapes and contested visions of sustainable cities. Although the author shares a particular situated experience, the themes explored are pertinent to others in the field who share a desire to advance environmental justice in fast-growing cities. The article presents a model for regenerative praxis drawn primarily from the Theory U framework for collaborative action research and the LENSES framework for regenerative design that helped the author contribute more positively to the social and ecological resilience of her neighborhood in the face of gentrification and social tension. Drawing from examples from two neighborhood-based projects, the article offers a call to the field to integrate unprecedented curiosity, compassion and courage into sustainability research and praxis in the contested landscapes we call home. As we consider the prospect of place-making and learning, the article offers a call to engage in un-learning and un-making so that we might co-create new patterns of inhabitation. The article offers some general propositions about priorities for future place-based action research.

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Compost and the Growth Mindset: A Pathway to Enrich Our Sense of Place

By Zoe A Nelsen

This personal narrative illustrates the role composting has played in the author’s connection to place throughout her adult life, and informs her scholarship today. Over the past twenty-something years she lived in close to twenty different homes, and yet always found space and time to create a compost/planting pile. The outcome is that between her efforts, kitchen scraps, and dishwater the soil gained fertility, and she too connected more deeply with each element. The essay proposes that home and community composting practices can inform our view of learning, shift educational paradigms, and help address the complex environmental and social concerns we face today.

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Place, Positionality, and Teacher Preparation

By Amy Vinlove

This paper explores the relationships between teacher and student length of habitation and knowledge of place and the process of learning to teach. A qualitative analysis of social studies instructional units developed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous pre-service teachers working in rural and urban school settings across Alaska, considered in relation to the interns’ relationships to the communities where they were teaching provides the foundation for a framework considering the different ways in which place-based education might be enacted. Data analysis addresses the questions of how individual relationships with place impact the integration of place into the classroom, how a new teacher learns to enact place-based teaching in a way that allows his or her students to reap the benefits of this pedagogical mind-set and whether strategies for learning how to teach in a place-based manner vary depending on the contexts in which the students and teachers are situated.

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Experience and Place-Making in Contested Forests

By Jodie Asselin

This piece examines narratives of place from diverse actors who engage with forests in the Yukon Territory, Canada. In examining personal stories of forest experience, I show how a single locality can be multiple places. In addition, this work focuses on the ways in which stories of experience are also expressions of legitimacy and belonging. What is shown are the varied mechanisms of engagement, the diverse places created, and the voices which are at once individual and influenced by a broader social context. As educators I argue we need to examine overlapping narratives of place. Through focusing on experience the intersecting nature of different localities becomes clear. As does the necessity to situate such narratives within their broader context, one within which experience is a key aspect of determining the legitimacy of land-use voices.

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“A bird’s-eye view of place”. Title and original artwork by Vedan Sadashiv Koushik, aged 5.

Considerations of place in sustainability education policy: How local contexts inform the engagement of sustainability in education policy enactment and practice

By Jada Koushik

The goal of this paper is to characterize the current state of literature that explores the importance of local contexts in the uptake of sustainability in education policy enactment and practice, with a particular focus on land and place in relation to education policy. Place has been studied by various fields in distinctive ways, and each discipline tends to privilege a certain aspect of place based upon their disciplinary frameworks. As opposed to exploring place through a disciplinary lens, I am seeking to understand place as a holistic, multidimensional concept. Place has historically been conceptualized as static, never changing, and everlasting. In contrast, a more contemporary view describes place as always in process, always becoming; places are never complete, bounded, or finished. This transmutes place into a more subjective concept, something that is rich in imagery, memories, and history but blurred when it comes to limits, power, and hierarchy. Thus, places operate through reiterative and continual practice but can be disrupted through social change and movements, political swifts, and differing ideologies. This protean characteristic of place is significant when reviewing the policy enactments literature, which underscores the fact that schools are always specific, and they are dynamic and shift both internally and externally. This paper seeks to address the question: How can or should considerations of place (e.g., location, local-global, land as historical, contested, impacted by dominant culture) inform the engagement of sustainability in education policy enactment and practice?

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Place: War, Cosmos, Perspective

By Mary Jackson

Place is more than an environment – it is about the activities, memories, and relationships that are a part of it. It has a history. This essay is about the places that are a part of a relationship and experiences with a family member. It entangles memories of childhood, war, politics, learning, and the simplicity of mountain tops. As this essay examines, the materiality of an environment is much more than mere matter and becomes inseparable from relationship and meaning.

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A Sense of Place and the World Within

By Lenka Studnicka

The author explores her own personal journey toward a sense of place as she draws connections among our natural and human community, early childhood development, peace, and sustainability. The story contributes to the continuing dialogue that explores the relationship of place to humans through various viewpoints, approaches, and experiences.

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Go Green for the Home Team: Sense of Place and Environmental Sustainability in Sport

By Brian McCullough and Timothy Kellison

The sport industry has a tremendous impact on the natural environment. As a result, sport organizations have implemented ways to reduce their impact ranging from energy upgrades, waste management programs, and fan engagement. However, fan engagement efforts have received mixed results to increase participation in sustainability initiatives. This paper proposes that sense of place can be leveraged using fan identification to increase participation in such initiatives, thereby decreasing the environmental impact of the sport organization and individual fans. A conceptual model is presented and practical examples provided for the use and reference of sport management and sustainability educators or researchers.

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Phenomenology of place: Re-grounding environmental ethics through story

By Jen Christion Myers

This article draws on Heidegger’s philosophy to bring a phenomenological perspective to bear on the question of place. By revealing dynamic human and natural histories, narrative can be a particularly useful tool for orienting our environmental commitments. I share stories from Vieques, Puerto Rico, an island shaped by trauma, to illustrate the power of people articulating what they most value about the places they call home.

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The Champlain Valley of Vermont, viewed from Snake Mountain.  Photo by Joseph Witt.

Case Study: “Understanding Place” at the Middlebury School of the Environment

By Joseph Witt, Holly Peterson and Stephen Trombulak

This case study describes the experiences developing and teaching a course entitled “Understanding Place” at the Middlebury School of the Environment 2015 summer session. The course sought to include multi-disciplinary approaches to place while simultaneously engaging students and faculty in hands-on projects across the Champlain Valley in Vermont. Rather than engaging in depth with specifics of environmental history in the Champlain Valley, however, students were asked to apply the multiple perspectives encountered in the course to develop elements of a “toolbox” related to understanding the significance of place in a world increasingly characterized by globalization and mobility. In other words, rather than learning complex details and history of a singular place, students developed perspectives for understanding, valuing, and protecting the many places where they may live throughout their lives. At the conclusion of the course students were asked to teach other members of the Middlebury community about their findings. This collaborative effort over six intensive weeks between students and faculty resulted in a creative pedagogical tool—an “understanding place cookbook”—that was shared with all School of the Environment participants, faculty, and staff. While this case study is grounded in the specific context of the Middlebury School of the Environment, it points to tools and experiences that could be useful for developing globally aware place-based education at any institution, bringing an appreciation of global stratification and inequality into localized efforts toward community sustainability and resilience.

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