Archive: Case Study

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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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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“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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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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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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River Journey: Art-led, Place-based, Experiential Environmental Education

By Jonee Kulman Brigham

This case study describes an art-led environmental education project at an environmental charter high school in Minnesota. The project is a pilot of the model called Earth Systems Journey, and the theoretical approach of this model is summarized. Its goal is to provide experiential integration: a sense of self and place that are integrated with each other. The case study project, called “River Journey: Exploring the Value of the Mississippi River,” took place in the 2014-2015 school year with students in grades 9-12. River Journey takes students on a journey of their place in the local water cycle to discover how the water that flows through their school’s kitchen sink is interconnected, both upstream and downstream, to the Mississippi River through water and wastewater treatment and distribution infrastructure. Students create a GIS story map as a way to reflect on and integrate their learning and as a public educational resource. The idea of river exploration expands throughout the curriculum in the second half of the year, and another set of GIS story maps explore the river from the perspective of personal stories, population-water resource tensions, water as a strategic element in the Civil War, and ecological issues that occur along the length of the Mississippi River. Art and story inform the design of the journey and its dramatic props, including GIS, used throughout the experience.

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The Purpose, Design, and Evolution of Prescott’s PhD Program in Sustainability Education

By Rick Medrick

        Medrick JSE Nov 2015 Hope Issue PDF Abstract: This article examines the purpose, design, process, and operations of Prescott College’s PhD Program in Sustainability Education. It describes how students come into the program, participate in foundational course work, operate within a cohort framework, and provide feedback and support for each person’s […]

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On Hope and Agency in Sustainability: Lessons from Arizona State University

By Christopher Boone

Abstract: Since Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, founded the School of Sustainability in 2006, sustainability has become a central focus at the University. ASU offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in sustainability, from Bachelor’s degree to Ph.D. level. The author, the Dean of the School of Sustainability at ASU, discusses how the University’s programs foster hope and agency among students and prepare them to address the pressing challenges of living and working sustainably. The author focuses primarily on curricular strategies and also addresses some extra-curricular strategies employed at ASU. He also discusses post-graduate employment patterns of alumni who have built upon their educational experience at ASU to become agents advancing sustainability in their work.

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A Case Study in the Stewardship of Creation: Project-Based Learning and Catholic Social Teaching in a Climate Change Curriculum

By Peggy Riehl, Nicole Tuttle, Charlene Czerniak and Kevin Czajkowski

The theme of stewardship, or caring for God’s creation, features prominently throughout Catholic social teaching. This Care for Creation project was designed to make students become engaged science learners who want to dig deeper into solutions when they learn about the environmental impacts caused by human choices through a lens of Catholic faith. By employing a Project-Based Science strategy and incorporating many of the themes of Catholic social teaching, students learned about climate change in a year-long sustainability education experience, shared their knowledge with their school and parish, and sponsored projects to help the poor and vulnerable of their city and abroad. This project can be used as a model for incorporating sustainability content and Project-Based Science learning into a Catholic science curriculum.

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Cultivating Connection and Care – The Case for Family Nature Clubs

By Chiara D'Amore

This article briefly summarizes a body of research in which love is understood to be at the core of three primary life experiences that foster life-long care for the environment: time in nature, especially during childhood; close role models for care of nature; and participation in an organization that fosters direct learning about nature. From this foundation, family nature clubs are presented as having a fairly unique capacity to offer all of these experiences. The family nature club founded by the author, Columbia Families in Nature, is described in some detail, including photos and quotes from the participants and summary results from research on the broad effects of family nature clubs is presented. All together, the case is made that family nature clubs are a ripe opportunity for communities to cultivate connection, care, and love between people and the natural world.

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Teaching Society and Climate Change: Creating an ‘Earth Community’ in the College Classroom by Embodying  Connectedness Through Love

By Phoebe C. Godfrey

This article attempts to fill a gap in the sociological literature by detailing how I taught a sociology course ‘Society and Climate Change’. I discuss the theories I used to frame my course – Barry Commoner’s laws of nature (1976) and Patricia Hill Collin’s intersectionality (2009) – and then I present and analyze the pedagogical practices I used that attempted to put these two theories into practice by embodying connectedness through love, in order to create what David Korton refers to as an ‘earth community’ (2010).

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

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

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

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Columbia Water & Light: A Case Study in Energy Education

By Alex Dzurick

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

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Global Sustainability: An Authentic Context for Energy Education

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

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

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

By John Wilkinson

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

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

By Susanne Gardner

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

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

By Todd LeVasseur

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

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

By R. Alexandar and G. Poyyamoli

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

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

By Hannah O Connor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Teacher Professional Learning Communities for Sustainability: Supporting STEM in Learning Gardens in Low-Income Schools

By Sybil S. Kelley and Dilafruz Williams

In order to address the ecological and social problems of sustainability in our modern times, citizens need to be empowered with an understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts and practices. Furthermore, STEM must be democratized and taught in life-giving and life-sustaining ways that include all students instead of the small fraction of “high achievers” and limited to the “potential” scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. At present, K-12 students and their teachers rarely have the opportunity to learn beyond their concrete school walls and to reconnect with nature, exacerbating their disconnection of STEM from real life and hence sustainability. We believe that engagement with school grounds and gardens and the very soils on which learning takes place can provide simple yet authentic day-to-day educational experiences that can bring mindfulness of lessons related to the cycles of life and death and to the interplay of justice and power in our communities. To transform teaching and learning in the classroom, teachers need different learning experiences that provide them with the time, space, and appropriate supports to translate their learning into teaching practice making education relevant to life. School gardens provide a rich context for learning both for teachers and students by embracing experiential, integrated, and collaborative learning. This study highlights an example of a summer program that involved teachers in hands-on education related to STEM in the learning gardens at four low-income schools in southeast Portland representing the growing ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the districts in the metropolitan area. Teacher voices capture the essence of learning STEM in the learning gardens, and also address issues of social and environmental justice.

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Environmental sustainability and environmental justice: From buzzwords to emancipatory pro-environmental behaviour change

By Mary Breunig

Environmental sustainability and justice and experiential education are present-day “buzzwords.” This case study of one secondary school Environmental Studies Program in Ontario, Canada problematizes the assumption that environmental knowledge(s), one form of experiential education, automatically leads to students acting pro-environmentally, querying: 1) how does environmental education impact secondary school students’ pro-environmental behaviours?; 2) to what extent does environmental knowledge inform environmental actions? Four primary themes emerged in one case study: a) strong sense of community; b) the evolving mission/vision in the program; c) the teacher’s evolving pedagogical praxis; and d) an increase in activist leanings in students. The role of the teacher on student learning, a discussion of emancipatory environmental actions, and educational policy implications are discussed.

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Sustainability Education and Environmental Nihilism: Transforming Suburbia through Experiential Learning

By Darien Ripple

This paper will focus on a qualitative research project that occurred in the fall of 2011 at Chandler Gilbert Community College, which set out to better understand the learning process of experiential education by observing the comments and actions of students interacting in nature-based learning. The research study is based on the premise that students who develop a moral awareness of nature will better understand the core conceptual components of environmental sustainability. The main objective of this research project was to assess the transformational learning of students enrolled in PHI-216 Environmental Ethics courses who engaged in experiential learning to better understand environmental sustainability.

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Stages and Breakthroughs: An Illustration of the Story-to-Song Method

By Marieke Slovin and Malcolm Brooks

Story-to-Song (STS) is a collaborative musical process in which a participant and a musical guide work together to create a song from the participant’s spoken story. Within this process can be found stages that progressively transform a written text into a song with a melody, verses, chorus, groove, and chord progression. The authors, who have worked as both musical guides and participants, explore this method in a scholarly realm in order to deconstruct the stages for composing a song. Through a creative deconstruction of this method, they have gained insight into how to create a sustainable, collaborative partnership.

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Building Community Through Engaged Students: CommUniverCity and Experiential, Service-Based Education

By Hilary Nixon and Dayana Salazar

Experiential learning, and more specifically, service learning (SL) can serve as an ideal mechanism to support sustainability education. In particular, because of its emphasis on collaboration between students, faculty, and the community partner(s) and on social change and civic engagement, SL provides an excellent vehicle to address issues related to social justice. In this article, we document a unique SL partnership at San José State University—CommUniverCity. CommUniverCity’s primary mission is to build social capital and empower residents in an underserved community near the university. Each year, students, faculty and residents invest more than 21,000 hours in service to the community. Because of its unique mission, sustainability-related projects lie at the heart of what CommUniverCity does. We analyze student surveys from more than 30 classes engaged in SL projects during 2012 across a wide range of disciplines. All projects address at least one, and often multiple “Es” of sustainability. Our findings indicate that students find value in the SL experience, not only in terms of better understanding of the course subject matter, but also in terms of their understanding of “community” and the larger issue of social justice and equity.

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Ear-Witnessing in the Galapagos Islands: The Case for Experiential Learning Abroad

By Joseph B. Treaster

Joe Treaster showcases an intense experiential learning course using audio recordings to create original student work in the Galapagos Islands. he makes the strong case for the transformative nature of study-abroad experiences when students are challenged to be directly involved in the communities and locations where they go to study.

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Sustainability Education, Experiential Learning, and Social Justice: Designing Community Based Courses in the Global South

By Mark A. Ritchie

Understanding how we live (culture) and its impact on where we live (ecology) is one of the key issues facing sustainability and sustainability education. The International Sustainable Development Studies has developed a study abroad program for American college and university students in Thailand, “People, Ecology and Development” to address these issues through experiential studies of sustainability. Courses each semester focus on understanding the broader challenges of sustainable development through experiential studies of specific landscapes and cultures in the villages, mountains, coasts and islands throughout Thailand. This paper examines the key components of ISDSI’s programs, and provides a framework for understanding how these principles can be used to teach about sustainability within the broader context of issues of social justice and global learning more generally. Key components of the ISDSI approach include: community based learning — working with local communities to design courses that reflect community needs, knowledge and struggles; place-based learning — examining both the culture and ecology of specific locations, watersheds, bioregions, island archipelagos, etc.; experiential learning — learning through direct examination of and participation in the cultural practices (lifeways, norms, etc.) and study of ecological components (forests, coral reefs, etc.); and expedition based — learning during focused expeditions through the landscapes being studied, usually human powered (backpacking through remote mountain forests, sea kayaking between islands, etc.).

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Using experiential education to expose graduate students to the relevance of case studies in sustainability and innovation

By Nicole Vaugeois and Patrick T. Maher

Field studies play an important role in curriculum at many levels. Within the Sustainable Leisure Management graduate program at Vancouver Island University (VIU), field studies play a critical role in allowing students to better understand the complexities of sustainability and innovation at the local/regional level. One particular course utilizes case studies as a research method and experiential education as a pedagogical philosophy, and in the 2012 edition highlighted by this article, the course examined sustainability and innovation on the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada.

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Influences of Field Immersion, Disciplinary Projects, and Extra-Disciplinary Activities on Transformative Learning in an Experiential Learning Project

By Radha Pyati and April Moore

This paper presents a case study of an experiential learning project, an analysis of its transformative learning effects, and a description of the aspects most influential on transformative learning. The project is an eight-day houseboat excursion with students at the University of North Florida. Student work products were evaluated for evidence for transformative learning. The most powerful factors causing transformative learning were the experiential aspect of studying in the field, projects done strictly within a student’s major discipline, and extra-disciplinary projects done intentionally outside a student’s major discipline.

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Dialogue among educators: Understanding the intended goals and perceived roles within a non-formal and formal educator partnership

By Kristine Cook and Ingid Weiland

Even less well known than how non-formal education is woven into formal education is how classroom teachers and non-formal educators work together to plan and implement these kinds of partnerships in the classroom. This study sought to explore how to intentionally and effectively structure the partnership between a formal and non-formal educator. The results of the study indicated that formal and non-formal educators can support each other’s goals through systematic collaboration in a robust and dynamic partnership that necessitates working together both prior to and during the implementation of programs to define goals and iteratively gauge roles of each educator in the process. Suggestions are made for how both educators can be made aware of the commitment involved in an explicit collaboration, including materials needed, expected levels of communication, individual roles, assessment aims, and time needed for effective outcomes.

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A Case Study in Sustainability Experiential Education

By Christine Gleason, Robert Ause and Jamey Hein

This article presents a case study of a middle school project based on the experience of two teachers and an administrator. The project gives 8th grade students an opportunity to make a difference in the world through a Sustainability Action Project. In this article you will read the rationale behind this project. You will get an overview of and a timeline for its implementation over the course of a complete academic year. We will provide you with some examples of projects as well as refer you to our school webpage where you can view these projects in more detail. Finally, we have included appendices of several of the materials we provide to our students. We hope that you will clearly see what sets this learning experience apart from other sustainability projects, and that you will be able to adopt a similar project in your school.

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GRASP: Testing an Integrated Approach to Sustainability Education

By Beth Karlin, Nora Davis and Richard Matthew

The current paper introduces and presents a preliminary pilot study of the Guided Research Applied Sustainability Project (GRASP) model for sustainability education. GRASP integrates curriculum, research, operations and engagement at the university level to create specialized projects that both engage students with real world issues and provide usable outputs for campus and/or community partners. Drawn from theory and practice in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as well as experiential education, the GRASP model includes five primary elements, which are the project topic (substantive issue being studied), groups (students working together), mentors (conduit between the instructional staff and enrolled students), assignment (pedagogical deliverable students submit for grade), and procedure (process of topic selection and project completion). GRASP was designed to enable implementation in both small and large courses at the undergraduate and/or graduate level and was tested in a large (200+ student) undergraduate Sustainability course. Projects included a campus sustainability audit and mixed methods analysis of documentary film campaigns. Survey data collected from students and mentors determined that the GRASP model is effective in providing students with a positive and engaging learning experience. Outcomes identified relate to attitudes and values as well as knowledge and skill attainment (e.g. teamwork, applied sustainability research). Suggestions include additional instruction on research methodology and greater clarification of project guidelines and mentor roles. The results of our pilot study reaffirm the potential impact of an experiential approach to sustainability education that incorporates multiple stakeholders from within the university campus and is scalable to large classes. GRASP is recommended as a model with which to meet these goals.

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Teaching Astrobiology in a Sustainability Course

By Seth D. Baum

Sustainability education typically focuses on sustaining life, ecosystems, and humans here on Earth. However, important insights come from considering life beyond Earth. This article presents several ways to teach astrobiology – the study of life in the universe – in an undergraduate sustainability course. The concept of habitable zones offers perspective on the temporal and spatial scales of sustainability on Earth and bujj78eyond. The prospects for long-term sustainability in the universe suggest expanded conceptualizations of sustainability, leading to a present-day focus on the risk of certain global catastrophes. Finally, the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the fact that none has yet been observed gives us new ways of thinking about our own lives on Earth. In sum, astrobiology offers an understanding of how our current sustainability challenges fit within the grander scheme of the universe. This understanding is of great value to the sustainability classroom.

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Greening A Digital Media Culture Course: A Field Report

By Antonio Lopez

As a professor of undergraduate media studies, I have attempted to bridge media education and ecoliteracy by developing an experimental media education approach called Ecomedia Literacy. The framework attempts to balance the strengths of media studies with the concerns of education for sustainability. This paper documents a specific case study in which I introduced sustainability themes into an undergraduate digital technology and culture course by using the Ecomedia Literacy framework.

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A Human Ecological Approach to Energy Literacy through Hands-On Projects: An Essential Component of Effectively Addressing Climate Change.

By Anna E. Demeo, David P. Feldman and Michael L. Peterson

Mitigating climate change is among the most urgent challenges humans face. However debate regarding sustainable energy and options for reducing carbon dioxide emissions tend to be polarizing and frequently unproductive. Too often facts are lost in jargon and numbers that have little meaning for many, including policy makers. Further compounding the problem is the lack of a tangible connection for most citizens between fossil fuel use and environmental degradation. This lack of understanding limits our ability to have sensible discussions about our climate and energy future. A human ecological approach to teaching energy literacy is essential to ensure responsible environmental stewardship in the age of climate change. A powerful and effective way to address this is through project-based learning that helps prepare students, across disciplines, by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to be effective advocates for energy choices that reduce environmental harm. Having an informed and energy literate society is crucial to overcoming barriers and adopting policies that address climate change.

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A Case Study in Sustainability and Fashion Education: Adventures on the Green

By Cosette Marie Armstrong and Melody L.A. LeHew

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the perceived impact of a fashion course that was reframed for sustainability using the education for sustainable development (ESD) framework. Specifically, the study explores the holistic integration of sustainability in a curriculum focused on the making and marketing material products, a seemingly counterintuitive context. Data collection included student reflective writings, focus group interviews, and a reflexive research journal kept by the researcher. ESD manifested in the student experience to the greatest degree in learning and development outcomes related to sustainability literacy and working with others. Interestingly, outcomes related to sustainability literacy were overshadowed by a substantial leap in collaborative and cooperative capacity, according to students. Notably, this case demonstrates that when sustainability is approached as a creative exercise, students take little issue with the new paradigm. This study also demonstrates how skills associated with ESD may be integrated into a course without sacrifice of course content, significantly enhancing the learning and development experience. The outcomes experienced by learners and the role ESD played in these outcomes provides important context for the integration of sustainability in a field of study preoccupied with the bottom line.

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Designing, Developing and Assessing Online Intra-collegiate Earth Charter Projects: Focus on Diversity

By Sheila Bolduc-Simpson and Mark W. Simpson

This article describes a collaborative online project that focused on the Earth Charter, particularly on its principles related to diversity. The project was conducted in two online courses of three sections in two colleges at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU): the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. One section of twenty-three students in a Composition II course and fifty-four students in two sections of an Introduction to Diversity for Educators course collaborated in mixed teams on a four-stage problem solving project that exposed the participants to a larger community of learners and reinforced shared responsibility for the present and future welfare of the human family and the global community.

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