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The Promise of an Energy Tracker Curriculum for Promoting Home-School Connections and Youth Agency in Climate Action

By Elizabeth Walsh, Derek Jenkins and Eugene Cordero

Formal classroom learning experiences that support sustainable behaviors outside the classroom necessarily must bridge students’ home and school lives, as knowledge and practice learned in the classroom is implemented outside of school. To this end, we study the impact of the Green Ninja Energy Tracker curriculum, which uses students’ home energy data in the classroom to promote engagement in climate change and conservation behaviors. Data is drawn from class observations, a focus group, and pre- and post- surveys of a pilot implementation of this curriculum in a diverse 12th-grade Earth Science classroom at an alternative school. We investigate what factors contributed to student engagement in learning about and participating in energy conservation behaviors. We found that students were engaged by the immediacy of tracking their energy use in near-real time, and were motivated by the economic benefits experienced as a direct result of changing their behaviors. In addition, students reported discussing and problem-solving energy use with their families, and surfaced considerations that informed which energy behaviors were implemented and why. Students also reported high levels of personal agency in taking action on climate change, but were pessimistic about the likelihood of society as a whole taking action. We suggest that this pilot demonstrates the potential power of connecting the varied places of students’ experience by bridging home and school lives through energy tracker software as a catalyst for developing scientific expertise and engagement, and supporting energy conservation behaviors.

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Finding Hope and Gratitude in the Climate Change Classroom

By Stephen Siperstein

Abstract: Through several original poems and contextual narrative reflection, “Finding Hope and Gratitude in the Climate Change Classroom” explores what it means to be a climate change educator and reflects on the author’s own experiences with cultivating agency and hope in the classroom.

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Silver Linings: A Phenomenology of Hope and Purpose in Climate Change and Sustainability Education

By Kimberly Langmaid

Abstract: Hope is a human process of discovery and perseverance that is based in personal values, a vision of the future, and a sense of purpose. This essay gives a brief overview on the role of phenomenological research in discovering the meaning of people’s lived experiences, such as the experience of hope. An example of phenomenological research on field ecologists’ lived experiences of climate change is provided in order to illuminate the experience of “silver linings” as the experience of hope while living in the midst of the dark cloud of climate change. An overview of a reflective curricular activity designed to cultivate hope and purpose in sustainability studies is provided.

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A Case Study in the Stewardship of Creation: Project-Based Learning and Catholic Social Teaching in a Climate Change Curriculum

By Peggy Riehl, Nicole Tuttle, Charlene Czerniak and Kevin Czajkowski

The theme of stewardship, or caring for God’s creation, features prominently throughout Catholic social teaching. This Care for Creation project was designed to make students become engaged science learners who want to dig deeper into solutions when they learn about the environmental impacts caused by human choices through a lens of Catholic faith. By employing a Project-Based Science strategy and incorporating many of the themes of Catholic social teaching, students learned about climate change in a year-long sustainability education experience, shared their knowledge with their school and parish, and sponsored projects to help the poor and vulnerable of their city and abroad. This project can be used as a model for incorporating sustainability content and Project-Based Science learning into a Catholic science curriculum.

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Teaching Society and Climate Change: Creating an ‘Earth Community’ in the College Classroom by Embodying  Connectedness Through Love

By Phoebe C. Godfrey

This article attempts to fill a gap in the sociological literature by detailing how I taught a sociology course ‘Society and Climate Change’. I discuss the theories I used to frame my course – Barry Commoner’s laws of nature (1976) and Patricia Hill Collin’s intersectionality (2009) – and then I present and analyze the pedagogical practices I used that attempted to put these two theories into practice by embodying connectedness through love, in order to create what David Korton refers to as an ‘earth community’ (2010).

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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.

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Computer model projections of the Representative Concentration Pathway scenario of 8.5 watts per meter squared (RCP 8.5) from the National Climate Assessment.

The Energy-Climate Literacy Imperative: Why Energy Education Must Close the Loop on Changing Climate

By Mark McCaffrey

Energy education, vital though it is, remains incomplete if it doesn’t explicitly address the impacts of human activities, specifically the combustion of buried solar energy/fossil fuels, on the environment in general and climate system in particular. Projections based on current emission trends indicate a likely increase of the radiative forcing of energy in the Earth system from around three waters per meter squared today to over eight by the year 2100, substantially heating the planet in the process. Efforts to avoid or minimize the connection between human energy consumption and changing climate amount to a form of science denial through omission. In order to address the causes, effects, and risks of climate change and appreciate the range of options to minimize negative impacts and maximize resilience, energy and climate literacy efforts should be combined and ideally infused throughout the curriculum.

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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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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.

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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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A New Agenda for Science Education

By Maceo Carrillo Martinet

Maceo Carrillo Martinet calls for bringing the local geography of sustainability into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curricula, all the while framing this call in the global context of climate change. He makes a convincing case, based on the experiences of the Instituto Querencia in New Mexico, for using three principals to guide STEM curricula: students as agents of change; diverse cultural perspectives enrich the curriculum; and involve the local community—wherever you might be—in the curriculum.

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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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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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The Value of Indigenous Ways of Knowing to Western Science and Environmental Sustainability

By Dennis Martinez

In this deeply articulate analysis, Dennis Martinez argues that Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of indigenous communities can be complementary to Western science, but“ bridging” or “integration” with Western Science will inevitably lead to second-rate status for TEK. The unique and powerful, place-based and ancient, traditional ways of knowing are based on the same fundamental human ways of analyzing the natural world. But the language used to conduct, express and translate indigenous understanding is in danger of loss to oppression and assimilation.

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Review of Split Estates

By Mark Seis

Mark Seis brings the important messages of the film, Split Estates, to our attention in this interesting review. He sees four important warning messages from the film regarding the development of natural gas, what is so commonly viewed as the “cleanest” of fossil fuels.

Mark Seis nos llama nuestra atención al mensaje importante de la película Split Estates, en este análisis interesante. El ve cuatro mensajes importantes de la película en referencia al desarrollo del recurso del gas natural, lo que tan frecuentemente se llama el mas “limpio” de los combustibles fósiles.
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