Archive: Central/South America

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

By Cosette Marie Armstrong

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

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

By Jaimie Cloud

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

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

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

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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.

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Love as a Great Transition Story

By Duane Elgin

The stories we tell shape our view of ourselves and the path we take through this time of collective awakening and global turning. We have the ability to consciously choose narratives that offer realistic beacons of hope to guide our way through the Great Transition. To achieve authentic and lasting reconciliation as the foundation for our future, we require the power of love and compassion as a practical basis for organizing human affairs.

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Book Review: “The Living Universe: Where Are We, Who Are We, Where Are We Going?” by Duane Elgin

By Chiara D'Amore

In The Living Universe: Where are We, Who are We, and Where are We Going, Duane Elgin presents a powerfully compelling argument that the most fundamental challenge facing humanity during this time of crisis is to visualize a future of great opportunity and that the foundational story guiding the reality people create on Earth is whether the universe is alive and to be loved and nurtured or dead and to be feared and consumed. This article provides a review of this powerful book with an eye to the connection between love and sustainability.

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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.

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

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

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

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

By Joshua Klaus and Erin Clark

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

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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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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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Teaching Sustainability through Adventure

By Jeni Henrickson and Aaron Doering

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

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

By Colin Whittle and Christopher Jones

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

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Re-engaging Youth through Environmental-based Education for Sustainable Development

By Justin Umholtz

To live up to UNESCO’s definition of a sustainable development education that empowers youth with the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, commitments, and skills to solve and prevent the world’s total environmental problems, youth must be able to find meaning in the curriculum based in their own experiences and expanded through shared group experiences. An environmental-based experiential curriculum with a positive development focus can help youth reclaim their learning process and reconnect with their communities. However, without critical analysis, students, especially marginalized students, cannot develop the tools and competencies to truly understand their environment and their place within it. Linking environmental and experiential education with critical theory provides students the opportunity to develop their leadership and gain the social and cultural literacy skills needed to come in from the margins.

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Curriculum as Bioregional Text: Place, Experience, and Sustainability

By Nathan Hensley

In this article I articulate what it means to understand curriculum as bioregional text. I utilize a theoretical mode of inquiry to explicate the values of bioregional education while integrating the discussion into the reconceptualized field of Curriculum Studies. The discussion addresses the value of direct experience, in our bioregion, and explains the significant contribution that can be drawn from developing a clearer understanding of our bioregional autobiography.

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If it please the court: Using a simulated trial as the basis for an introduction to sustainability science course

By N.J. Smith-Sebasto

This report describes a unique technique for presenting an introduction to sustainability science course that is both required for sustainability science majors at a large Mid-Atlantic state university and a general education non-laboratory science course. The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in the late 1990s, serves and an indictment of humanity. The course mimics a trial as it proceeds from the indictment through an arraignment, pre-trial, trial, verdict, and sentencing with students acting both as the accused and the jury.

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Boyer Plus: Field Study Courses for Sustainable Education

By Daniel Moscovici

The field study (or short-term study abroad) creates a successful hybrid of study abroad and field research. These short-term educational adventures (edu-ventures) give environmental or sustainability students opportunities to gain practical knowledge while traveling domestically or overseas. In addition, it presents the opportunity for both faculty and students to extend the traditional Boyer model of scholarship, a reputable professoriate model, by developing continuity. The field study fulfills the four pedagogical goals of the Boyer model: creating research opportunities (discovery); breaking down the silos of traditional academic departments (integration); acting as consultants on-site (application); and educating students beyond the faculty members’ expertise (teaching). In addition, these field studies fulfill a fifth goal: building relationships and transgressing time (continuity). The development of this Boyer Plus model from a field-study experience serves as a tremendous tool for colleges, universities and professors to build the opportunities and necessary pedagogical skills for both traditional and non-traditional students.

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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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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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Review of Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life.

By Tricia Francis-Morgan

Tricia Francis-Morgan elegantly lays out all the power in Williams and Brown’s book. She gives just enough of a taste of how transformational learning gardens can be, in so many different ways, from the social to the physical, to the biological, that we are left with a desire to quickly get the book. At the same time, Francis-Morgan’s perspective on this pioneering book carries extra weight given her own experiences using learning gardens in the Caribbean.

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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 […]

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Figure 4.  Doll with ice at Qoyllur Ritti (copyright Constanza Ceruti)

Sacred Ice Melting Away: Lessons from the impact of climate change on Andean cultural heritage

By Constanza Ceruti

The high Andean Incan mummies represent an astounding feat of cultural preservation that reveals much about the peoples who left them, and their discovery is a tribute to the valor of the modern-day high-altitude archaeologists who have recovered, studied and preserved them. The intricate and delicate interconnectedness of the mummies, the modern cultural practices that descend from their original cultures, and the effect of climate change on the status of high altitude ice bring broad-scale lessons to those interested in the environmental and cultural landscapes of sustainability.

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Environmental education and eco-literacy as tools of education for sustainable development

By Steven Locke, Ricardo Russo and Carlos Montoya

The purpose of this paper is to propose environmental education and eco-literacy as components of education for sustainable development through the examination of an eco-literacy program offered by EARTH University in Costa Rica to rural community public schools. To illustrate these components we examine the development of a program/curriculum used in 17 elementary schools. We draw two important conclusions from our examination. First we found that external national political, social, and economic forces were important to the program’s success. Secondly we illustrate the importance of developing and programs that address the specific needs and issues of the local region.

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Sustainability and Dancing

By Carol Harden

Carol Harden elegantly lays out, in broadest terms, from an environmental, cultural, social, political, economic and historical perspective, the essential confluence between geography as a discipline and sustainability as a concept. And then, in the face of the inevitability of change, she provides such a succinct metaphor for pursuing sustainability—just dance!

Carol Harden, elegantemente establece, en términos más amplios, desde una perspectiva ambiental, cultural, social, política, económica e histórica, la confluencia esencial entre la geografía como una disciplina y la sostenibilidad como un concepto. Y luego, en la faz de la inevitabilidad del cambio, ella ofrece una metáfora concisa para la persecucion de la sostenibilidad –Solo Baila!

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A Sustainable Peace: From Militarized Borders to Transnational Resource Collaboration

By Randall Amster

In a very cohesive and convincing argument, Randall Amster asks us to look at the other side of the well-worn coin that links environmental degradation and resource despoliation to conflict and war. Instead, argues Amster, conflict zones have been shown to be appropriate sites for the creation of peace parks and other similar initiatives, where they can be turned into regions of enhanced sustainability—in every sense of the word, including environmental, social, and economic.

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La renovación de la crítica al desarrollo y el buen vivir como alternativa

By Eduardo Gudynas and Alberto Acosta

Two intellectual powerhouses from South America, Gudynas and Acosta make the case for a new way of understanding human fulfillment, authentically Latin American in origin with indigenous roots—the idea of el Buen Vivir. We cannot translate their ideas “the good life” or “quality of life,” both thoroughly Western concepts, and we must hope that el Buen Vivir, with its entire notion of well living, fulfillment and plenitude in connection with other humans and the elements of the landscape becomes incorporated into a healthy and sustainable idea that replaces development. Gudynas and Acosta make the case that these ideas are emerging from their indigenous roots and have been a big part of the political, social and economic success of the “new left,” as evidenced by their foundational role in the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador.

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Future Climate Change in the Global South

By Kenneth Young

In this comprehensive review, Kenneth Young gives a robust and sweeping analysis of how global climate change might affect landscapes in the global South. His unique emphasis on including the human element, within both a current societal and historical-political framework—provides a hefty morsal of food for thought regarding the multiple and complex ways in which real cultural and natural landccapes will respond to global warming.

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Planting the Seed of Sustainability: Languages and Cultures Fertilize an Organic Garden at Miami Dade College

By Anouchka Rachelson

In this fascinating case study from Miami Dade College, Anouchka provides us with a detailed and subtle look at the effects of a simple school garden on her students. The garden’s potential to build a sense of community and place as well as a new environmental ethic is developed through vivid vignettes woven throughout the description of how Anouchka and her colleagues launched the project. The garden project described is a powerful example of complex, interdisciplinary teaching that also takes advantage of the college’s physical campus to foster experiential learning and cultural exchange. Whether or not readers are involved in similar projects, this story is important for its illustration of the interconnectivity and endless learning possible in any discipline from a connection to the living earth.

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Participatory Glacier Lake Monitoring in Apolobamba Protected Area. A Bolivian Experience

By Dirk Hoffmann

This case study presents the threat that newly formed glacial lakes pose for mountain dwellers as well as infrastructure down valley. The article discusses efforts under way in Apolobamba National Park to include glacial lakes in their “social monitoring” system in order to include the local population in defining management options for potentially dangerous glacial lakes.

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Subversive Spiritualities: How Rituals Enact the World, by Frederique Apffel-Marglin (Oxford University Press, 2011)—A Review Essay

By Pramod Parajuli

In this deep review of Frederique Apffel-Marglin’s Subversive Spiritualties, Pramod Prajuli takes us to the bio-cultural landscapes in the heart of the high Andes and Amazon of Peru where he so elegantly explains, based on the book, how the true understanding, and regeneration, of this landscape requires acceptance of a profoundly different, non-technical, non-reductionist, and non-“Western” mindset. The esay illustrates residue of enchanted bio-cultural patrimony, as it still survives and thrives in the Peruvian highlands as well as in the High Amazon. The core message of the book is to show that this patrimony is not a one-way street where the humans enact on nature but rather a two-way street where nature also enacts upon members of human species.

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Amenity Migration: a comparative study of the Italian Alps and the Chil-ean Andes

By Axel Borsdorf, Rodrigo Hidalgo and Hugo Zunino

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Amenity migration involves people moving to perceived desirable regions, usually for non-economic reasons, such as a physical or cultural environment that is seen as more beautiful, tranquil or inspirational than their current, usually urban environment. the Italian Alps and Chilean Andes have recently experienced significant amenity in-migration after decades of net population decline. Whereas amenity migration in other parts of the Alps, and the Americas is well-studied, here we represent some of the first demographic data, and also cultural-geographic analysis, comparing these two regions. In many respects, the two regions are similar, including the socio-economic situation of existing population and the principal reasons that amenity migrants arrive. IN both regions, perceived beauty and tranquility of the natural mountains environment is the main attraction for amenioty migrants. In addition, migrants come to experience a different cultural milieu that thy perceive as less stressful than the usually urban environments that they emigrate from. In the Italian Alps, close proximity to urban areas bring more day migrants, and the longer cultural history of teh region has led to more conflicts of values between amenity migrants and long-term residents than is seen in the relatively culturally young Chilean Andes.

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Bomb Threats, Global Warming and Decision Making: An Educational Experience

By Dave Tomkins and Peter Tsigaris

Dave Tomkins and Panagiotis Tsigaris focus their fine analytical stats skills on how to not to make the wrong kind of error…yes, that should be the right logic…regarding global warming. They elegantly lay out the math behind what we all know intuitively…nothing is to be lost from taking precautions regarding global warming, or avoiding Type II statistical error, which comes, not from assuming that humans caused global warming, even when we didn’t, but rather being unable to prove that humans cause global warming, when in fact we are causing it. They present the statistics in the context of a course case study and make it clear that we have no reason to wait on the data since the potential for this type of error is already with us and the actions to be taken are probably beneficial in other areas as well.

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Sponsoring the Journal of Sustainability Education

By Clare Hintz

Sponsoring the Journal of Sustainability Education The Journal of Sustainability Education is actively seeking partners, sponsors, and donors to collaborate on moving the field of sustainability education outward and deeper. The Journal is a premiere publication with dynamic content elements, a blend of peer reviewed and timely interviews and media pieces that draw over 11,000 unique visitors […]

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Toward climate justice: Perspectives on the climate crisis and social change, by Brian Tokar, Communalism Press (2010), 137 pp., $14.95, ISBN 9788293064015.

By Randall Amster

In this insightful review of Brian Tokar’s book, Randall Amster hails the work as a hopeful response to climate change that, rather than playing off of apocalyptic scenarios, envisions a future where society is re-structured not only in technological and economical terms, but also towards a more socially equitable way of life.

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Un Nuevo Concepto Dentro Del Derecho Ambiental: “Los Derechos de la Naturaleza”

By Carla Cardenas

Carla Cardenas brings a startlingly significant feature of the new Ecuadorian constitution to our attention—rights for nature—and provides a thought-provoking analysis of the legal implications. She makes a good case for these kinds of rights as a driving force for real change in our overall societal relationship—at its core based on legal constraints that take their roots in a country’s constitution—with nature.

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Teaching Sustainability As If Your Life Depended on It: A Photo Essay of Fort Lewis College’s Ecology and Society Field School

By Rebecca Clausen

In this inspiring photo essay, Rebecca Clausen demonstrates the power of being in the field and learning sustainability in a holistic, hands-on way that starts students down the road to primary production, upon which our future will depend.

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The Importance of Controversy: Is Education for Sustainable Development Too Nice?

By Robert Bray

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) community, argues Robert Bray, is shy to confront controversy. In this quick review of three controversial issues—population control, the role of science, and limits to growth—he quickly points out how important it is to embrace controversy as a way to arrive at sound policy.

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Sustainability Education in Practice: Appropriation of Rurality by the Globalized Migrants of Costa Rica

By Brandilyn Gordon, Fausto Sarmiento, Ricardo Russo and Jeffrey Jones

Abstract An innovative framework for sustainability helps investigate the impacts of real estate development and educational attainment of newcomers; more specifically, landscape transformation due to ‘amenity migration’ into the Global South.  We argue that sustainability research requires a de-categorization from mutually exclusive ‘human’ and ‘nature’ divisions, to refocus on intersections of multiple and complex socio-environmental […]

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Landscape Transitions: Integration of Pedagogical Approaches for Sustainability in Tropical American Mountain Communities

By Dustin A. Menhart and Fausto Sarmiento

Abstract Tropical mountain communities are susceptible to natural hazards due to severe local landscape features.  In addition, their peripheral network of disaster mitigation can be meager leading to population loss, not only from the death toll of catastrophic episodes, but also, by overall attrition due to failing socioeconomic ventures that fuel emigration.  For sustainable development, […]

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