Archive: Vision for Sustainability Education

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

By Marna Hauk

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

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

By Dina Chammas-Gass

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

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

By Jaimie Cloud

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

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

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

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Sustainability Programming is an Ethical Obligation for Higher Education in the Environmental Century

By Stephen Mulkey

Abstract: Development of a sustainable relationship with our natural resources is an imperative for any meaningful quality of life as climate change poses the ultimate test of our adaptability as a species. The consequences of failing to respond will be catastrophic and irrevocable over a millennial time scale. During the environmental century, higher education has an ethical imperative to provide the foundation of a sustainable civilization. Higher education is broadly failing to meet this mandate. Most existing programs in environmental and sustainability science and studies provide inadequate training and lack budgetary autonomy equivalent to established academic units. Although many universities define sustainability through operational activities, the primary purpose of higher education is not operational sustainability — it is teaching, learning, scholarship, and outreach. Developing the capacity for proactive adaptation will require us to examine how we conduct teaching and research across the spectrum of higher education institutions. Education and research for proactive adaptation to rapid ecological change affecting human and natural systems is necessary if we are to produce holistic managers to conserve our natural heritage. All undergraduates should acquire basic ecological and sustainability literacy. Teaching, learning, and scholarship for sustainability must become the highest priority in higher education. Collectively, faculty have the power to implement these reforms.

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Hope … in a Hopeless World?

By Randall Amster

Abstract: Writing an essay about hope in these times feels like an indulgence of privilege. Still, with full awareness of the implications, I want to insist that we not lose hope, that we make it meaningful, and that we go so far as to make its cultivation a central focus of our lives and work. This essay is intended to serve as a calling card for like-minded inquirers to reach out across time and space, to find ourselves and one another in the engaged optimism of meaningful work in the world, and as an acknowledgment of appreciation for all of those who do so.

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Sustainable Being: A Personal Journey Linking Whole Health and Sustainability Education

By LeAnne Robinson

Sustainable being is the concept of living a lifestyle that is grounded in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In this article the author shares how her experiences and learning during a sabbatical in India and Germany helped her make the connection between sustainability education, change initiatives, whole health and heartful living. An overview of sustainable being is provided in the context of five principles of living shared by a vedic-eco community in India who is involved in global sustainability efforts. These principles are related to those living in western society with an emphasis placed on the role of sustainable being for educators involved with change initiatives.

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Breathing In, Breathing Out: The Biological Foundation for Sustainable Economic and Social Life

By Priscilla Stuckey

The ecological crisis is a crisis of relationship, and the way forward lies in building more reciprocity, respect, and love into human relationships with each other and with the rest of nature. What is needed is a great economy of give-and-take in which what each takes in is balanced by what each gives out. Nature provides the model for this reciprocity in the biological process of breathing in and breathing out. The rhythm of the breath, found in every life form as well as in every larger community in which living beings participate, provides a powerful model for human decisions and actions in every arena of life. By copying the rhythm of the breath, humans can learn from the wisdom of nature’s economy to revolutionize our relationships with one another and with the larger-than-human world. I discuss the economic model of the modern world and its devotion to linear increase and accumulation, or breathing in without limit, and how profoundly this pattern contradicts the reciprocal model of biological life. I offer historical examples of reciprocal economies among the Northwest Coast Indians in the potlatch ceremony and among ancient Israelites in the Year of Jubilee. I then offer examples of reciprocal practices that emphasize the breathing-out or giving-back half of the breath cycle and that can be practiced in daily life. I suggest that activities of any kind that engage people in giving back, such as showing appreciation, extending care, or pausing for meditation, contribute directly to sustainability because they address the giving-back half of the breath cycle, which is missing or underexplored in modern life.

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Sustainability Education and Transformational Change

By Rick Medrick

With elegant simplicity, Rick Medrick makes the case for the importance of transformational change as part of our education process to bring about sustainability. He brings forth the need for creating learning environments where real, transformational change, can happen. And he invokes the role of the “servant-leader” in establishing those environments as part of an organic and evolutionary change process that we can help to generate.

Con una sencillez elegante, Rick Medrick hace el caso por la importancia del cambio transformacional como parte de nuestro proceso educativo para llegar a la sustentabilidad. Trae al frente la necesidad de crear ambientes de aprendizaje a donde el cambio verdadero transformacional puede ocurrir. Y el invoca el papel del “líder-sirviente” en establecer estos ambientes como parte de un proceso de cambio orgánico y evolutivo que nosotros podemos ayudar en generar.

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Visions of Sustainability: A Dream for My Students

By Kathy Lamborn

Kathy Lamborn shares her profound wilderness moments with us, much like she does with her middle school students in the classroom. But she goes on to make the case that the value of wilderness is not just for its own sake but for its power to elicit these moments and thereby bring us “to our knees with reverence,” helping us to recognize the call for a just and compassionate—“sustainable”—life.

Kathy Lamborn comparte sus momentos profundos en la naturaleza con nosotros, justo como ella hace con sus estudiantes del colegio en la aula. Pero ella lleva mas allá la idea de que la naturaleza no tiene valor solo en si, sino por su poder de inspirar estos momentos y así llevarnos a “nuestras rodillas con la reverencia,” ayudándonos a reconocer la llamada para una vida justa y compasionada—así “sustentable.”
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Organic gardening: Sustainability Education From Within

By John Gookin

In an insightfully pragmatic way, John Gookin shows us how we can incorporate sustainability concepts into an innovative curriculum like that of NOLS without forcing the issue. He espouses the NOLS “organic” approach to curriculum design, where each taught element serves a real purpose, while finding great instances for including sustainability theory and practice.

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What Sustainability Education Is to Me

By Tina Evans

In this convincing argument, Tina Evans makes the case for both social and ecological components to sustainability that each of us realize, individually and in community, in the context of our own “lifeway.” She also portrays, in concise terms, the transformational process that she incorporates into her own lifeway as a college professor.

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An Evolving Definition of Sustainability

By Jordana DeZeeuw Spencer

In this rich and robust view of sustainability, Jordana DeZeeuw Spencer accounts for the need to survive in a sustainable environment; at the same time, she takes the concept to another level and calls for a multi-dimensional view where social justice and intentional, inclusive communication are what bring richness to a sustainable life.

En su vista rica y profunda de la sustentabilidad, Jordana DeZeeuw Spencer toma en cuenta la necesidad de sobrevivir en un ambiente sustentable; a la vez, ella toma el concepto a un nivel más alta con su llamada para una vista multi-dimensional a donde la justicia social y la comunicación intencional e inclusiva son las cosas que traigan riqueza a una vida sustentable.
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Know Thyself: Where the road to sustainability education begins

By Esmeralda Guevara

In her vision for sustainability education, Esmeralda Guevara analyzes how Western culture seeks happiness to the exclusion of living a full life, which inevitably involves knowing pain. Material wealth can buy that happiness, but perhaps at the cost of spiritual fulfillment. By returning to the age-old creed “Know thyself,” argues Guevara, we begin down a road to sustainability that recognizes the importance of ecology as well as economics, and spiritual richness as well as material wealth.

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