Archive: Scholarly Features

The History Workshop of the Cumberland County Historical Society

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.

Continue Reading
Environmental Study of Sustainable Places, Llansteffan Wales

Sustainable Education from Vermont to Wales: Developing a Sense of Place and Resiliency through Innovative Interdisciplinary Curriculum

By JonathanSilverman and Jeffrey Ayres

Environmental Study of Sustainable Places is a pedagogical experiment in multi-disciplinary curriculum development on several levels: 1) we integrated our multidisciplinary backgrounds in the social sciences and the humanities—political science and international relations with art and aesthetic education—to develop and co-teach these half courses; 2) student learning outcomes, course requirements, interactions and collaborations, multimedia texts (that can range from journal essays to Ted talks to articles from international press to images of environmental artists), and out of class projects, promote interdisciplinary learning; 3) the semester course confronts borders and boundaries of static college curriculum around sustainability as we examine global and local understanding of sustainability, which is a pre-requisite for a residency at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David where students crossed international borders and boundaries to conduct research of sustainable policy and enculturation in Wales, United Kingdom. Students attended interdisciplinary symposiums and work collaboratively with students representing different disciplines from the University of Wales; and 4) we delicately navigated the College’s curricula policy and bureaucracy to gain approval for a paradigm shift to use the concept of sustainability as a “pedagogical big idea” to assure that students would fulfill either of the Liberal Studies Curriculum requirements: Global Issues for Common Good or Artistic Experience.

Continue Reading
article thumbnail

What’s Love Got To Do With Transformative Education?

By June Gorman

Too much of education, especially following the Western Enlightenment model and its increased use of scientific, quantifiable metrics, has seemed to completely forget that love and emotional intelligence have everything to do with what and how well the human child learns. In a globalizing society facing shared environmental and social crises of existential proportions, this forgotten understanding is fatal to real hopes of education for sustainability and healthy human and planetary life. Love is simply too critical an emotion to understand and incorporate into education, and it has been too long left out in the cold. But cold it has been for the human mind focusing on only rational/objective and emotion-denying forms of learning and intelligence, creating minds unmoved by the thus un-felt facts of an increasingly globally warming and more confused world.

Continue Reading
Weaver Article Thumbnail reduced size

Nature-Based Therapeutic Service: The power of Love in Helping and Healing

By Shawna Weaver

This article is an introduction and exploration of the potential for a new approach to mental healthcare. This approach blends mental health treatment with nature and service for a therapy that is systemically beneficial for the individual, the community, and nature together. Called nature-based therapeutic service (NBTS), it is a method within the construct of ecotherapy that is both nature-based and service oriented. It involves empowering clients to serve nature, to develop relationship, build skills, connect to the community, and gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Foundational fields related to NBTS include ecopsychology, sustainability education, biophilia, service learning, the study of altruism, trans-species psychology, and other psychological theories. Based on research from these contributing fields, the assumption is that a mutually beneficial therapeutic approach can reconnect humans with nature for individual and community sustainability, through the power of relationship, compassion, empowerment, and love.

Continue Reading
hintz article thumbnail.png

An Ecology of Love: Women Farmers, Sense of Place, the Georgic Ethic, and Ecocentricity

By Clare Hintz

Women farmers in the U.S. are more likely than men to adopt more ecologically-based practices on their farms. In order for such practices to increase, it is relevant to understand how these women farmers learn the values and skills that shape their work. Place attachment (including the emotional connection to a locale and the intangible, felt meanings, values, and symbols) and place meaning (including personal values, socially and iteratively constructed values) seem to be important drivers of active care for place. These are mediated by ecological and social knowledge, experience, social relationships, and identity. If these factors are supportive rather than in tension with place attachment and place meaning, an active care for place can further develop the context for emotional bonds and the story of the locale. Regenerative farmers as well as others who work directly with the land are perhaps uniquely positioned to be leaders in the process of becoming part of a place. In this paper I summarize the literature about farmers’ relationship to place using a framework developed from the general sense of place literature. Finally, I discuss two aspects of this framework that emerged from research with 14 women farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota: a georgic ethic and an ecocentric perspective: functional components of an ecology of love.

Continue Reading
Hensley Article Thumbnail.jpg

Cultivating Biophilia: Utilizing Direct Experience to Promote Environmental Sustainability

By Nathan Hensley

This article utilizes theoretical inquiry to explicate the value of cultivating biophilia within higher education settings. The author provides several suggestions to promote participation in the sustainability movement while also cultivating biophilia. The definition of biophilia is explored within the context of sustainability education and a link is made to the theme of this JSE issue. Thus, this article provides both theoretical exploration of utilizing biophilia in an educational context and it offers suggestions for implementation of a form of curriculum and pedagogy that promotes the understanding and practice of sustainability that is applicable in many settings.

Continue Reading
Annie Warren article thumbnail

Sustainability Education Framework for Teachers: Developing sustainability literacy through futures, values, systems, and strategic thinking

By Annie Warren, Leanna Archambault and Rider W. Foley

The Sustainability Education Framework for Teachers (SEFT) intends to build a capacity for educators to be able to understand: (i) the broad, complex nature of sustainability, (ii) the problem-oriented, solution driven nature of sustainability, and (iii) how sustainability connects to them as both citizens and classroom teachers. SEFT embraces four ways of thinking––futures, values, systems, and strategic which are conceptualized as being bi-directional and interconnected. The framework aids in linking sustainability topics that are seemingly disparate to the novice teacher population by building upon knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for problem solving with respect to complex sustainability challenges. Imagined as a conceptual framework, it offers organizing principles for examining and considering sustainability problem/solution constellations in a coherent fashion. The framework provides the opportunity for self-reflection and independent enquiry by considering and learning through real world foci. Likewise, SEFT offers a logical framework for working in interpersonal, intragroup, and intergroup situations. The four lenses require considering critical inquiries related to societal values, equity, and visions of the future; unpacking the status quo; and exploring and articulating pathways towards a sustainable tomorrow.

Continue Reading
Bloom Article Thumbnail 2 use this one

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

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

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

Continue Reading
PUttick Article Thumbnail

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

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

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

Continue Reading
Hogan icon

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

By Theodore J. Hogan and Paul Kelter

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

Continue Reading
stuff

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

By Steve Kerlin, Rosie Santos and William Bennett

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

Continue Reading
Original artwork for the KEEP Activity Guide (Linda Godfrey, 1998)

Designing Resilient Energy Education Programs for a Sustainable Future

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

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

Continue Reading
article thumbnail

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

By Leanne M. Jablonski, Kenneth Klemow and Gillian Puttick

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

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

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

Continue Reading
langfitt figure 1

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

By Quinn Langfitt, Liv Haselbach and Justin Hougham

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

Continue Reading
Attari Figure 1 no caption

Enabling energy conservation through effective decision aids

By Shahzeen Z. Attari and Deepak Rajagopal

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

Continue Reading
frederick article icon

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

By Chad Paul Frederick and K. David Pijawka

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

Continue Reading
Image 1 Students are engaging in solid waste management within the school

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.

Continue Reading
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

By Helen I. Lepp Friesen

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

Continue Reading
UrbanSprawlthumbnail

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

By Reza Banai and Thomas DePriest

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

Continue Reading
defining sustainabiltiy  article icon

Defining Sustainability in Meaningful Ways for Educators

By David Little

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

Continue Reading
amanda lloyd article thumbnail and figure one

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

By Amanda Lloyd and Tonia Gray

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

Continue Reading
Brian Soutwell article thumbnail

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

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

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

Continue Reading
Jan Ray ARticle Thumbnail

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

By Jan Ray, Koh Ming Wei and Diane Barrett

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

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

Continue Reading
Figure 2. SEM image of a Golden Stonefly claw

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

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

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

Continue Reading
MikeShribergArticleThumbnail

Sustainability Leadership Programs: Emerging Goals, Methods & Best Practices

By Mike Shriberg and Lindsey MacDonald

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

Continue Reading
Jeni Henrickson article thumbanil'

Teaching Sustainability through Adventure

By Jeni Henrickson and Aaron Doering

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

Continue Reading
NicoleHarvath  Article Thumbnail

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

By Nicole Horvath, Mark Stewart and Marybeth Shea

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

Continue Reading
Brooke Moran article thumbnail

Employee Engagement: Advancing Organizational Sustainability

By Brooke Moran and Paul Tame

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

Continue Reading
renaBazaiArticleThumbnail

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

By Reza Banai

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

Continue Reading
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

By Michel Léger

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

Continue Reading
coln whittle article thumbnail

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

By Colin Whittle and Christopher Jones

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

Continue Reading
ThomasBeeryArtticleThumbnail

Making Sustainable Behaviors the Norm at the University of Minnesota Duluth

By Thomas Beery

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

Continue Reading
Figure 1. An example of a place map for a recent backcountry ski tour. Included in the experience are local place names (toponyms), memories, and emotions, in addition to topography and other technical features of traditional maps. Further, the concept of near and far landscapes are incorporated into the production and consumption of beer on this ski tour.

Critical Sustainability: Promoting Pedagogies of Placefulness in Outdoor Education

By Jeff Rose and Adrienne Cachelin

The socioecological challenges we face have never been so complex, so intractable, and so urgent. And while both justice-oriented education and education for sustainability are growing in colleges and universities across the United States, normative perspectives of outdoor experiential education have fallen embarrassingly behind. In this paper, we offer critical sustainability as a conceptual basis for engaging students in the beauty, perversity, and complexity of our world. Critical sustainability, integrating sociopolitical systems of privilege and oppression with the socioecological imperatives of global health and justice, provides an exciting and promising pedagogical direction. With this conceptual framework, we explore perspectives of “nature,” placefulness, and our multiple, overlapping subjectivities as students, educators, and engaged citizens. Our task as outdoor educators is to bring the faraway nearby and inspire students to engage in the myriad challenges we face as individuals, citizens, and as members of a global ecological community. We conclude by offering place mapping as a pedagogical technique to support elements of critical sustainability in outdoor education settings and beyond.

Continue Reading
Rita vasquez article thumbnail

Fostering Sustainability Through Watershed-Based Education

By Rita Vazquez and Rosalinda Uribe

Daily news relentlessly confirms that we have not been able to find a balance between the environment, the economy, society and culture. The trend of worldwide development is increasingly far from sustainability and it seems that we cannot perceive evident and subtle interconnections required to understand the whole picture. Thus, issues such as the loss of biological diversity, weakening of cultural diversity and poverty, have usually been dealt with separately. Nevertheless, they are in fact closely connected and relevant to sustainable development. A holistic and more comprehensive approach for action at all levels is required to attain sustainability, as pointed out by the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Water can be seen as one common thread to link those issues. On the other hand, Education must be at the core of sustainable development for either to be successful. Water education is therefore a core element to achieve sustainability. Watersheds are a natural starting point for a holistic, comprehensive approach, as they can be described as a physical-biological unit, as well as a socio-economic-political unit, which can be used for planning and management of natural resources. A watershed perspective facilitates education to be locally relevant and culturally appropriate. Herein we will discuss some examples of watershed-based education in Latin America, addressed to provide a better understanding of local environmental, social, cultural and economic topics and issues from early childhood.

Continue Reading
karim-aly Article thumbnail

The Oikos of Rural Children: A Lesson for the Adults in Experiential Education

By Karim-Aly S. Kassam and Leanne M. Avery

              PDF: Kassam&AveryJSESpring2013 The Oikos of Rural Children[1]: A Lesson for the Adults in Experiential Education   Karim-Aly S. Kassam, Department of Natural Resources & American Indian Program, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell UniversityLeanne M. Avery, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, State University of New York College at Oneonta  […]

Continue Reading
Jan bredenbach article thumbnail

Learning in the Struggle: Reframing Economic & Environmental Justice

By Jan Breidenbach and Jesus Herrera

The dominance of neoliberalism over the past 35 years has transformed not only how global cities develop but also has shaped new forms of activism that contest this very development, including both economic and environmental justice organizing. Many of these social movement groups have developed similar models of organizing (community mobilization, policy advocacy and—when necessary—litigation) that target the skewed distribution of urban development and land uses. As in all social movements, they also “frame” their work to attract support and blunt opposition, a process that is part of the educative function of organizing. Recently, as these economic/environmental justice organizations have grown and matured, many are combining their frames, seeing the relevance of both frames to their communities. This process of framing and reframing through active organizing is one of learning in the struggle.

Continue Reading
beth Karlin article thumbnail

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.

Continue Reading
RaffertyArticleThumbanil

Children’s Observations of Place-Based Environmental Education: Projects Worlds apart Highlight Education for Sustainability Inherent in Many Programs

By John Rafferty and Shelby Gull Laird

        PDF: Rafferty and Laird, Spring 2013 Abstract:  This paper explores the observations and perceptions of school children as they engage with nature through place based environmental experiences. The paper reports on two projects, one based in the USA and the other in Australia, designed to promote understanding of sustainability through outdoor […]

Continue Reading
AntonioMaragakisArticlerThumbnail

Higher Education: Features, Trends and Needs in Relation to Sustainability

By Antonios Maragakis and Andy van den Dobbelsteen

PDF: Maragakis and van den Dobbelsteen Winter 2013 Abstract:  The progress of sustainability within higher education has steadily increased in focus over the last decade and has increasingly become a topic of academic research.  With various scholars, journals and conferences exclusively dealing with the subject, a wealth of literature has been produced on best practices, […]

Continue Reading
CarmenSedaArticlethumbnail

Financial Literacy: the Hidden Curriculum, and Ecological Injustice

By Carmen Seda

A historic overview, and examination of the curriculum for personal financial literacy suggest that a focus on neoclassical principles results in narrowing consumer understanding of their true power and true impact within a market economy socially and ecologically. Sustainability is taught as an isolated global problem, rather than in conjunction with personal financial literacy, maintaining a misperception that an individual consumer does not have power or influence over global ecological issues. This circumstance perpetuates a situation of what this paper posits as ecological injustice.

Continue Reading
FisherPoff Thumnail for Storytelling

Effecting Change through Storytelling

By Patricia E. Grace and Eric K. Kaufman

There is evidence that the American agrifood system is a significant contributor to environmental, economic, social, and ethical-animal welfare damage to the earth and to society and is unsustainable, yet the worldview of a substantial percentage of the population conflicts with this assessment. A significant number of researchers, non-governmental organizations, and government entities assert that the detrimental effects of industrial agriculture must be addressed without delay and sustainable agricultural practices implemented. Attempting to change a worldview is not an easy task. A growing body of research in other disciplinary areas suggests that storytelling can serve as an effective method of fostering change. This mixed-methods study examines the role of storytelling in effecting positive change in worldview and attitudes toward sustainable agriculture. The study explores the effects of Story-based versus Information-based treatments on such change. The hypothesis of the study is that Story-based treatments will be more effective in promoting positive change than will Information-based treatments. The findings of the study provide evidence supporting this hypothesis. The story characteristics found to be associated with positive change included: first-hand personal view, vivid description, and identification with the story narrator.

Continue Reading
RoofiaARticleThumbnailnano_lab_6-425x283

Women and Nontraditional Fields: A Comprehensive Review

By Roofia Galeshi

PDF: Galeshi Winter2013 Abstract:  This literature-based report aims to synthesis and summarize the existing research on female’s (meaning adult women and girls) propensity for enrolling and continuing in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at through university level. To create and maintain a sustainable future, it is essential to support females enroll and […]

Continue Reading
tandem bike

Developing curriculum that engages students in evaluating their relationship with the natural environment

By Robin Reid

How can curriculum at the post secondary level be used to initiate discussion and reflection for students about current environmental issues and their personal relationship with the natural environment? This is explored through student observations and analysis of personal vehicle use over a four day period. The purpose of the analysis was to engage students in understanding both their personal relationship with and modern societies’ relationship with the private vehicle and the implications of this relationship on the natural environment. The data in this study are from 24 student journals documenting their vehicle use in two winter semesters (2006 and 2007). The results from the journals show five emergent themes relevant to personal vehicle use; time, convenience, freedom, cost and the environment. Within these themes student observations included insights into the challenges associated with changing human behavior towards the natural environment at a local and global level. This paper contributes to the larger discussion about curriculum that engages students in transformative education.

Continue Reading
LisaKenslerArticleThumbnailJSE

School leaders, sustainability, and green school practices: An elicitation study using the Theory of Planned Behavior

By Dennis Veronese and Lisa Kensler

Little research in educational leadership has addressed school leaders, sustainability, and green school practices. State policies requiring green building and management practices are rapidly becoming more common. However, we know little about school leaders’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control beliefs relative to green school practices. This study begins a line of research investigating the behavioral intentions of school leaders to engage in green school practices. We report on an elicitation study including a diverse sample of 71 U.S. K-12 school leaders’ responses to open-ended survey questions designed following Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior. In general, the study suggests that participating school leaders believe there are benefits to going green and most stakeholders will support greening efforts. However, limited resources (money, time, information, and personnel) present substantial barriers to leading and managing greener schools.

Continue Reading
DanielHanssonARticleThumbnila

Unpacking Spinoza: Sustainability Education Outside the Cartesian Box

By Daniel Hansson

Abstract: By its nature and scope, the concept of sustainability is a challenge to traditional education. Where most academic institutions still value and promote narrowly conceived fields of expertise, sustainability requires a comprehensive, wide-angle approach to problem definitions as well as solutions. This challenge highlights the need for a bold reassessment of a number of epistemic assumptions; one of them being the validity of the Baconian-Cartesian reductionism at the core of the scientific method. This paper presents a novel, non-reductionist approach to understanding and teaching sustainability grounded in an analogy from the systems philosophy of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). This approach is an alternative that transcends the traditional dichotomy between reductionism and holism in their various forms. I discuss how Spinoza’s approach to parts and wholes can be applied to a transdisciplinary, systems-based sustainability education addressing systems of varying size and complexity. A multitude of systems theories and methodologies have failed in the role as widely accepted and used meta-languages that effectively transcend disciplinary confines. As applied in this paper, Spinoza’s philosophy can effectively be used as such a discipline-transcending facilitator of understanding. To my knowledge, Spinoza’s fundamental contributions to the philosophy of systems and transdisciplinarity presented in this paper have not been recognized in the literature, including the research on Soft Systems Methodology and other “constructivist” systems approaches.

Continue Reading
EricPappasArtichethumbanil

A New Systems Approach to Sustainability: University Responsibility for Teaching Sustainability in Contexts

By Eric Pappas

A systems theory approach to sustainability in five contexts—social/cultural, economic, environmental, technical, and individual—is a realistic and useful approach to researching and teaching sustainability in the university. As a springboard for social change, the university needs to develop values-based sustainability content for classes across disciplines, and especially address the careful assessment and evaluation of both human and technical factors for solving sustainability problems.

Continue Reading

“Framing Sustainability”

By Justin M. Miller

As institutions of higher education continue to embrace sustainability as a guiding principle, administrators, campus sustainability leaders, and researchers in the field struggle to present a holistic picture of the changes necessary for complete organizational change. While resources available for decision-makers typically focus on individual case studies on specific concepts, few have worked to address the field as a whole. This paper aims to address sustainability within the frames conceived by Bolman and Deal in their seminal work Reframing Organizations (2008). Specifically, it looks at reframing organizational change within the structural, human resource, political, and symbolic frames, as well as adapting Kotter’s Change Stages to address how sustainability can, and should, transform colleges and universities, while providing the tools necessary for sustainability professionals to enact this innovation.

Continue Reading
LeonardSsoziScholarlyarticlethumbnail

Embedding Education for Sustainability in the School Curriculum: the contribution of Faith Based Organisations to Curriculum Development

By Lssozi

Embedding education for sustainability, in Faith Based Organisations’ (FBOs) school curricula in Uganda, puzzles. Any progressive education system should be dynamic-always calling for timely transformations in content, instructional methodologies, imparted values,
skills and attitudes, to remain holistic. Once these are adequately embraced, the system tends to remain vibrant and relevant to the institutions, the learner and the community. However, in Uganda especially in education institutions of FBOs, Education for
Sustainability (EfS) – a universally conceived aspect of holistic learning seems not to be whole-heartedly attended to either by omission or unawareness. Problems centre mainly on ideological and operational premises. These include lack of awareness, lack of goodwill of
key stakeholders to plan for and manage EfS and lack of competent teachers in EfS aspects. Answers to these problems in essence center on the theoretical underpinning of this report-curricular transformation. Secondly, proper capacity building, integrative planning,
financing and management to enable sustainable programme growth and development should also be enhanced.

Continue Reading
ATkinsonPalomboArticleThumbanilMap

Creating a Learning Organization to Promote Sustainable Water Resources Management in Ethiopia

By Carol Atkinson-Palombo and Mekonnen Gebremichael

Partnerships between universities have the tantalizing possibility of providing fresh pathways to more sustainable societies. Institutions in sub-Saharan Africa are new players in this emerging development paradigm, but arguably are most in need of building capacity to address fragile and dynamic environmental and social conditions after decades of underinvestment in higher education. This paper documents the early stages of an Ethiopia-United States partnership to build capacity in institutions of higher education in Ethiopia in the critical area of sustainable water resource management that was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED). We explain how the concept of sustainability was interwoven with theories about learning organizations, supplemented by in-depth dialogue with stakeholders to assess existing capacity and future needs, and used to inform a strategic plan. The literature highlighted the need for a learning organization: a place where people continuously expand their ability to generate the results they truly desire, where innovative and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together. In 2011, the partnership established the Ethiopian Institute for Water Resources (EIWR) with the vision that it will become a key innovator in sustainable water resources management in Ethiopia by integrating education, research, outreach and training. One important observation so far is that in order to create a more substantive engagement than was realized in the “technology transfer” policies that shaped past North-South relationships, partnerships need to be authentic and characterized by open dialogue, mutual respect, and shared learning. Another is that the opportunities for fieldwork in Ethiopia’s complex social and physical landscapes also have enormous potential to create deep and learning experiences for other students of sustainability, thereby building capacity not just in Ethiopia but across multiple geographies.

Continue Reading
Shaunna BarnhartArticleImageThumbnailCropped

Teaching Sustainability across Scale and Culture: Biogas in Context

By Shaunna Barnhart

Teaching sustainability invariably involves teaching about energy – its use, its sources, its
environmental impacts, and its social implications. This paper explores how one renewable
energy alternative – biogas – is adapted and applied across scale and culture. Biogas is made by
capturing the methane released during anaerobic digestion of organic matter such as manure,
sewage, and food waste. In Nepal, biogas is a household scale technology used to create a
cooking fuel that replaces firewood and improves both environmental and human health. In the
United States, biogas is used as part of large-scale waste management systems for livestock,
wastewater treatment, and landfills to create electricity for on-site use and for sale into electric
grids. In Sweden, biogas is used as part of a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
and fossil fuel usage by using locally generated biogas for district heating, electricity, and
vehicular fuel. By comparing these three cases, we gain insight into how one technology is
adapted across diverse needs and from household to regional scales in the pursuit of more
sustainable energy practices. Such an exercise can be an asset in the classroom to teach students
about the importance and relevance of place-based solutions that address diverse cultural and
economic realities.

Continue Reading