May 2nd, 2010

Spines To and From the Editor

By Larry Frolich

May 10, 2010

Dear New JSE Readers,

And new you must all be as we launch our inaugural edition of the Journal of Sustainability Education (JSE, as we’ve become better known).   Our hope is that what you find here will provide, as guest editor Dan Garvey puts it, a guide to how we can teach and learn about sustainability.  We must now go beyond information and start to take action—education is the best place to begin!

As is true at the launch of any new project, right now I have the privilege of knowing the guts and heart of this journal in a unique way.  From the intimate details of its digital platform to the struggles that authors revealed to us as they joined our common goal of how people learn about sustainability–almost all of it has passed over my plate.   So where do I begin to orient you, the new reader, to all that I have seen?

The organizing themes and grand challenges seemed to emerge from the creative tensions that we faced and resolved, or sometimes still find in play, as we brought the journal to fruition.  One of these has been to balance the peer-review scholarly approach to publishing with a desire to bring timely opinions, media reviews, case studies and short reports to our readership.  Fortunately, in Betsy Vardell of Ruby Studios, we found a web designer who saw this not as a shackling tension, but as our greatest strength.  She helped us see that we are part of an emerging model in online publishing where academicians publish scholarly works under the same masthead that practitioners  share for putting out  the latest and greatest in what really works.  Interestingly, our scholarly peer-reviewed pieces have come from both camps, as have our timely main-column pieces.  It looks like our flexible and creative online platform, with links back and forth between scholarly pieces and topical pieces, will make it easy to harness this tension constructively.

Another tension we faced was how to house the journal at an academic institution while maintaining an independent and unfettered mission and intellectual identity. Here our Guest Editor, President Dan Garvey of Prescott College, consistently brought his visionary understanding about sustainability and education to the analysis of our submissions, while allowing his institution and its excellent staff to provide any logistics we needed.  Never was there a concern that the college would usurp the journal, and at the same time we feel lucky to have the prestige of a classic, yet cutting-edge (yes, they do go together in this case!), sustainability college as a host for JSE.

The final tension, for me not yet resolved, is how to wrap my own appreciation of the breadth and depth of this inaugural issue  into a package that you, the New Reader, will feel find compelling and useful.  In part, I know this tension comes from a lifetime of holding paper in hand and wanting the order that comes from turning pages.  In our online milieu, you can use our drop-down menus to order and archive the articles as suits your own tastes.  Or you can see what comes up as you roll the Search Box.  Perhaps, as editor, I fear that loss of control.  But I also worry that some readers, like myself, might want might want someone to say to them, via a bigger headline above the fold, that these are the important pieces.  Given the quality of every contribution, I am mostly glad that you can order them as you will, and that I’m not obligated to say which is a priority.  But I will do this—here are some of my favorites and if you don’t know where to start, check them out:

  • Paul Rowland and Tony Cortese with Richard Cook tell us why we need sustainability incorporated into higher education to the point where it is institutionalized in our institutions and no longer coming from outside the status quo.
  • Check out Chris Haines on sustainability in architecture.  I’ve always loved the design and building process for its multi-disciplinary nature, but Chris shows us, so eloquently and thoroughly, how many different ways architects can incorporate sustainability.
  • Fritjof Capra and Michael Stone express, so very elegantly, how we bring sustainability into every aspect of our schools, and Eric Shawn with George Zaninovich show us a great example at Catlin Gable School.
  • Riki Ott gets high school students involved in ultimate civics.
  • Susan Santone shows us how ecological economics can and should be taught to school kids.
  • If you like theory, check out Andres Edwards idea about the SPIRALs that bring sustainability to a new level, and Brian Nichols gives us an evolving and interactive model for what eco-literacy really entails.
  • Don’t miss Thatcher Bohrman’s review of the TED website….and if you go to TED, do try to come back to JSE.
  • And Jill Manske gives us such great examples of why sustainability has to be incorporated into a realm of education that so rarely considers it—the training of health care professionals.

I could go on…and soon every piece would soon be listed, so I’ll leave it there.  I hope your experience moving through this inaugural issue of JSE is every bit as enjoyable and inspiring as my experience of assembling it.

If one thing can resolve the tension about which articles are the ones with wings, it is your comments.  Please add your own bit.  Just like it’s time to move beyond information to action, right here we want to go beyond a static screen and form a community that will truly feel empowered and use what JSE offers.  So please comment on the articles, friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Finally, thanks to the JSE Advisory Board for their vision and guidance throughout.  And to our fantastic Managing Editors, Aimee deChambeau and Marieke Slovin, for pulling it all off.  Here’s to a sustainable century with one JSE issue after another,

Larry Frolich,

Editor, Journal of Sustainability Education

Biology Faculty, Yavapai College

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Comments (1)

  1. Sacheen Ponte says:

    Dr. Frolich,
    I took BIO201 with you in Fall2009 and have just completed my first semester of nursing on the Verde campus of Yavapai College. Admittedly I can’t quite wrap my brain around sustainability and healthcare education but am intrigued by that fact and think this online journal is incredible in its accessibility. All the best in this endeavor and I am excited to read more especially as it pertains to healthcare.