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Evans Overview

Hope and Agency as Ontological Imperatives for Sustainability Education: An Introduction to the Special Issue of the Journal of Sustainability Education Focused on Hope and Agency

By Tina Evans

Abstract: Offers a brief introduction to the Journal of Sustainability Education issue focused on hope and agency, highlighting hope and agency as essential aspects of sustainability education in the Anthropocene.

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Discourses of Hope in Sustainability Education: A Critical Analysis of Sustainability Advocacy

By Gerri McNenny and Jan Osborn

Abstract: If we are to educate the coming generation about the threats to the environment and the consequences of the excesses of human actions on our planet, educators need to consider critical pedagogy as a means of engaging students in thought and action. This article examines texts from prominent sustainability advocates and researchers, analyzing how they frame sustainability on a spectrum of hope that will then enable educators to address sustainability education with a realistic sense of agency while preparing students to meet the challenges for a sustainable future. Suggestions for pedagogical applications are included for each category across the spectra of hope.

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Finding Heart: Generating and Maintaining Hope and Agency through Sustainability Education

By Tina Evans

Abstract: In his landmark book Native Science (2000), indigenous educator Gregory Cajete eloquently articulates the motivations and questions that drive this study. For Cajete, effective education of our time entails “finding heart.” Finding heart is an active process within and beyond the person. It is evident in ethically and spiritually grounded work and being that embody meaningful connection to and care for others and nature (p. 288). This article relates to the process of finding heart through sustainability education. It presents a grounded-theory-based study of aspects of sustainability education that motivate or detract from activating hope and agency among undergraduate college students. Specific aspects of conceptual and social engagement, as well as the duration of these effects, are examined in some depth, with the voices of students themselves reflecting the diversity, depth, and power of their experience. The author concludes by suggesting that generating hope and agency among students is a vitally important outcome for sustainability education as part of the larger movement for sustainability. She also suggests curriculum design considerations for effectively activating hope and agency among students.

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Pedagogies for Hope and Transformation: A Book Review for “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth” by Bill Bigelow

By Emily Zionts

Abstract: The anthropocene era is one that is rife with ecological and social crises. Although many have been aware of the enormity of these problems and their systemic roots, the widespread educational response has not been sufficient in preparing youth to take part in creating a more just and sustainable world. Climate change is an umbrella issue for much of what the worlds facing. It is time for teachers to take the lead in using the classroom as a place to bring relevant, critical, joyful education that will lead to action in this crucial time. The following article is a book review for A People’s Curriculum for the Earth, a powerful resource for helping teachers equip students to confront our interconnected global crises, especially the climate crisis, and to highlight stories of teachers, activists, and organizations working to make a difference.

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Figure 1: Mandala created by students during a recent class session.

Cultivating Hope through Contemplative Methods

By Rebecca Vidra

Abstract: Integrating contemplative methods into discussions of sustainability can create a sense of hope and agency in our students. In this case study, I present four tools that I use in my upper-level undergraduate/graduate seminar to engage students more deeply in reflection on topics in environmental ethics.

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Speaking Our Truth: A Dialog on Hope and Agency in Education and Life

By Tina Evans and David Greenwood

Abstract: The authors engage in a written dialog about their experiences with and understanding of hope and agency in the context of higher education happening in the midst of many converging crises of sustainability. The authors discuss their personal and professional views about teaching sustainability and about leading and collaborating in sustainability-oriented efforts. They consider sustainability and sustainability education efforts as both internal processes that take place within the person and external processes oriented toward others and the world. They explore questions of leadership and authority in relation to hope and agency and discuss the importance of making and communicating honest appraisals of the current situation of humans and the biosphere as a basis for fostering clear-eyed hope and agency in themselves and students.

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Façade of tower overlooking former slave market on Île de Gorée (Senegal), now preserved by UNESCO as a “memory island” for intercultural dialogue and reconciliation. Graffiti spells Allahu Akbar. Photo by Adrian Fielder (2000)

Fostering Hope in Calamitous Times: A Review Essay on Randall Amster’s Peace Ecology (2015)

By Adrian Fielder

Abstract: This essay examines Randall Amster’s book Peace Ecology as a critical intervention articulating vital connections among discourses from peace and justice studies (on one hand) and the most vexing problems addressed by sustainability studies (on the other): from violent conflict and social inequity to environmental injustice and global ecocide. Reading this dialogue through the lens of hope, the author argues that Amster’s synthesis of this research provides effective tools for helping educators, students and practitioners of sustainability to generate new thought – and direct action – around these issues. By cataloguing and analyzing the many successes of ecological peacebuilding without absolving the paradigms of thought that continue to propagate war against people and planet, Amster empowers us to avoid both the trap of despair and the delusion of complacent optimism in order to foster the conditions that promote human beings’ mutually-beneficial peace and coexistence with each other and with the Earth.

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

By Christopher Boone

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

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On the Future of Hope

By Douglas Dupler

Abstract: The concept of hope is rich in context, and working with it from different angles can enhance inner resources. Framing hope as a process offers tools for sustainability educators: subjective exploration, empathy development, critical thinking, and civic engagement.

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