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A Sustainability Performance Assessment Tool: The SPA System

By Dorothy Paun, Shannon Bray, Tomoki Yamaguchi and Simiao You

Stakeholders have become increasingly vocal about companies’ sustainability impacts, and corporations have responded by issuing sustainability reports that discuss and gauge performance metrics for a variety of social and environmental dimensions. These corporate sustainability reports are public domain and contain a wealth of longitudinal data that could be used by stakeholders, including educators and students. However, these reports appear to be vastly underutilized due to insufficient knowledge of and skills for assessing corporate sustainability information. This article presents the SPA (Sustainability Performance Assessment) System (Paun 2015), an educational tool for mentoring students in corporate sustainability performance research. The Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 framework forms the model underlying SPA. A student learning outcomes survey reported that 96% of the respondents said the SPA System reduced sustainability report complexity through enhancing their sustainability knowledge and/or analytical skills. More specifically, student feedback indicated an increased understanding of sustainability both as a concept and from a business perspective, and the improved ability to assess and compare corporate sustainability performance based on sustainability report information and data.

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Applying AASHE STARS to Examine Geography’s “Sense of Place” in Sustainability Education

By Makayla J. Bonney and Leslie Duram

Abstract: Geography supports place-based inquiry for the learner, applying the old environmental adage of “think globally, act locally” to environmental problem solving. Many within and outside of the discipline of geography see it as a highly appropriate home for sustainability studies. Yet despite a history of human-environment education, place-based relevancy, and support from professional research or education organizations, studies show that geography does not always take a lead role in sustainability education. In the following, we revisit the contested histories of geography and sustainability education and show support for geography-led sustainability curriculum. The scope of this research is universities which have self-identified as leaders in campus sustainability, using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) participation as an indicator. To best understand the current relationship of geography and sustainability studies in higher education, this study examines the role of geography in offering “Sustainability Focused” courses as reported by AASHE STARS institutions with geography programs. The results show that although geography departments are highly utilized when present at an institution, there is still much room for improvement both within geography departments and campus-wide. We then discuss the implication of these findings, both for the discipline of geography and for students of sustainability.

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Los Museos De Montaña De Reinhold Messner Identidad, Turismo Y Sustentabilidad En Los Alpes De Sud Tirol

By Constanza Ceruti

This paper describes a group of mountain museums set amidst the Eastern Alps and the Dolomites, considering their significance for the cultural identity, heritage education and sustainable tourism in South Tirol. The importance of the Mountain Museums is analyzed in connection to their setting and to the development of the communities in the area. The exhibits are analyzed considering their role in the construction of a regional identity and in the education towards the appreciation and preservation of the natural and cultural heritage of mountains, locally and worldwide. For the purpose of this research, the author visited the six buildings belonging to the net of the Messner Mountain Museum and she conversed with the director, Mr. Reinhold Messner, who is often credited as the most remarkable alpinist in history.

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The City of Roses—Pasadena City College and the Chemistry Research Laboratories

By Jillian L. Blatti, Anthony F. Cuccinello, Betsy Juarez, William Liang, Jianyi Lu, Nikolai Massine, Jennifer Portillo, Elliot Pourmand, Anakany Ramirez, Vanessa Sanchez and Carina Sepulveda-Torres

As a background for these student responses, I would first like to describe the distinguished program they are a part of at Pasadena City College (PCC). The Early Career Undergraduate Research Experience (eCURe) is a program at PCC that provides students with an undergraduate research experience in the natural or physical sciences at the onset of their scientific careers. This unique experience inspires enthusiasm for scientific research by introducing students to research projects with broader impact in terms of sustainability, energy, the environment and emerging scientific technologies. In this particular eCURe research group led by Dr. Jillian L. Blatti, students have devised methods of synthesizing sustainable paints and testing their resultant properties; they have transposed their tested methods into lesson plans to engage local high schools in scientific outreach efforts, inspiring the next generation of scientists and science educators in sustainability education. As part of this outreach effort, students collaborated with Penn State University’s Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network in their Remotely Accessible Instruments for Nanotechnology (RAIN) program to bring hands-on experience with advanced analytical equipment to high school students via the Internet, including a scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope, which they used to analyze sustainable paints they crafted in the classroom. In these highly interdisciplinary and collaborative projects, PCC students are learning to integrate concepts from their science courses into a research-based setting, generating novel questions, designing experiments, analyzing the results, and communicating their science to a broad audience. This innovative community college research program has inspired our students at PCC to continue scientific research in sustainability that they have become passionate about as they transfer to four-year institutions. What follows is accounts of chemical research in sustainability in the chemistry research laboratories at Pasadena City College, the eCURe students’ ‘sense of place’, and how it impacted their views on sustainability research and education.

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Open Spaces of Democracy: Connecting Students, Wilderness, and Community through Experiential Learning

By Eric Morgan

Chronicling a semester-long civic engagement project, this essay explores the efforts of a senior seminar course to collaborate with a local wilderness preservation organization. The essay reflects on the role of students in their communities, their connections to wilderness, and the challenges and rewards of civic engagement.

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How We Came to Inhabit These Spaces: Reflections on the Role of Place in Our Individual and Collective Journeys as Emerging Sustainability Scholars

By Kathleen Aikens, Naomi Maina, Ana-Maria Bogdan and Hardi Shahadu

This paper provides a descriptive analysis of the experience of four doctoral students engaged in a collective project of place exploration at a midsize Canadian university. Under the methodological tradition of self-study, we contextualize concepts of place attachment and decolonization in order to investigate what it means to be interdisciplinary scholars of sustainability. We use storytelling and mobile discussion methods, alongside visual and mapping methods to disentangle our experiences and analyses of place, mobility, land, and scholarship. This reflective piece demonstrates that collaborative forms of scholarship such as this require deliberate moves toward community creation and place attachment within institutions of higher education. Through a process of collaborative investigation and writing, we have created spaces of caring academic scholarship rather than engaging in competitive and hierarchical university culture.

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A Sense of Place and the World Within

By Lenka Studnicka

The author explores her own personal journey toward a sense of place as she draws connections among our natural and human community, early childhood development, peace, and sustainability. The story contributes to the continuing dialogue that explores the relationship of place to humans through various viewpoints, approaches, and experiences.

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Sustainable Education from Vermont to Wales: Developing a Sense of Place and Resiliency through Innovative Interdisciplinary Curriculum

By JonathanSilverman and Jeffrey Ayres

Environmental Study of Sustainable Places is a pedagogical experiment in multi-disciplinary curriculum development on several levels: 1) we integrated our multidisciplinary backgrounds in the social sciences and the humanities—political science and international relations with art and aesthetic education—to develop and co-teach these half courses; 2) student learning outcomes, course requirements, interactions and collaborations, multimedia texts (that can range from journal essays to Ted talks to articles from international press to images of environmental artists), and out of class projects, promote interdisciplinary learning; 3) the semester course confronts borders and boundaries of static college curriculum around sustainability as we examine global and local understanding of sustainability, which is a pre-requisite for a residency at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David where students crossed international borders and boundaries to conduct research of sustainable policy and enculturation in Wales, United Kingdom. Students attended interdisciplinary symposiums and work collaboratively with students representing different disciplines from the University of Wales; and 4) we delicately navigated the College’s curricula policy and bureaucracy to gain approval for a paradigm shift to use the concept of sustainability as a “pedagogical big idea” to assure that students would fulfill either of the Liberal Studies Curriculum requirements: Global Issues for Common Good or Artistic Experience.

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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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Book Review: Peace Ecology by Randall Amster

By Lenka Studnicka

Abstract: Renowned author and professor Randall Amster embraces peace ecology as a way to engage in cooperative actions and practices that build community and foster resilience. Peace Ecology bridges the gap between social and environmental sciences, highlighting important ethical and interdisciplinary aspects of the field of peace studies and showing how these relate to both human communities and the places in which they are embedded.

Amster, R. (2015). Peace ecology. New York: Routledge.

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Book Review: An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives by Martin Mulligan

By Madhur Anand

Abstract: Martin Mulligan’s An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, social and personal perspectives reviews the history of sustainability science, placing emphasis on the social-ecological model. This model introduces the importance of personal values and choices. He discusses topics around four themes: limits to growth, diversity, community and resilience. It is well-written, informative and novel.

Mulligan, M. (2014). An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. New York: Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-0415706445

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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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Children Voice Biophilia: the Phenomenology of Being In Love with Nature

By Darius Kalvaitis and Rebecca Monhardt

Drawing from a theoretical framework of Ecopsychology and Biophilia this phenomenological study explored the following research question; What is the meaning of the human-environment relationship for children? This qualitative investigation utilizes data from writing samples and follow up focus group interviews with 68 children providing a robust sample of 6-12 year olds perspectives. Qualitative data analysis software using QSR Nvivo ® 7 & 8 was used to systematically provide topic, analytic, matrix and categorical coding for the 265 pages of textual data. Results indicate that children have a love of nature; a positive deep-seated intellectual and emotional appreciation for nature based on “experiences through” and “affection for” nature. When children expressed their relationship with nature they often did so from a place of positive emotional friendship or unconditional love. This study provides a visual representative diagram based on quantifiable qualitative data illustrating the bonds between children and nature. The biophilic results show that children are “falling in love” with nature and this representation can provide a glimpse into the possibility of “standing in love” with nature as people grow into adulthood.

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Book Review: “Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature” by Priscilla Stuckey, Ph.D.

By Betsy Wier

Abstract: In Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature, Priscilla Stuckey, Ph.D. presents a collection of stories as an integrated whole. The purpose of this book review is to offer this work of creative non-fiction as an illuminating example of how love and relationships are essential ingredients for sustainability. Kissed by a Fox is fundamentally about relationships between humans and other-than-human beings. Love for the natural world and one’s self are consistently described throughout the book as necessary for taking in and giving out what will sustain us and the earth. Stuckey delivers this message through narrating her experiences with “friendships in nature” and how these relationships transformed her life.

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A Pedagogy of Love

By Joan Clingan

This opinion/editorial presents the belief that love is present in all human lives as an emotional experience and may be present in all human lives as an intellectual idea as well. It considers possible actualities that lie behind some common thoughts (clichés) about love. The author presents the idea that even though love is central to our lives, the word love, if not the concept of love, is avoided in academic discourse. The author explores some of the scholarly, theoretical, and philosophical writing about love, noting that it is often named something other than love (compassion, well-being, altruism, etc.). The question and invitation are presented to consider what might be possible if love were intentionally and specifically identified as a methodology, pedagogical practice, and value in leadership, activism, and education.

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No Place like Home

By Tameria Warren

Abstract: This article describes the connection between love and one’s “home”. It is this love and a strong sense of place or connection to one’s home that ushers in the need for sustainability

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To Have and To Hold: Sustainability and the Language of Love in Terry Tempest Williams, Pattiann Rogers and Aldo Leopold

By Bonney MacDonald

Abstract: This essay offers reflection on the question of what love has to do with sustainability and environmental awareness. Examining Terry Tempest Williams’ Desert Quartet, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Pattiann Rogers’ Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems, the article explores how and when environmental consciousness arises. The three selected authors offer insight on the roles played by environmental trauma, close and empathetic identification with animals and place, the power of close observation, and the constitutive power of praise. Finally, an etymological reading of the word, “sustain,” suggests new definitions of what it means to have and to hold, to make a pledge to environmental awareness. The essay concludes that the vocabulary and emotional commitment prompted in acts of sustainability partakes in the language of love.

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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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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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From Kenya With Love

By Jennifer Gurecki and Monica Makori

Table of Contents: JSE March 2015 — Sustainability: What’s Love Got to Do with It? PDF:  Gurecki JSE March 2014 Love Issue Abstract: The impacts associated with products such as solar lamps and rain water harvesting tanks often tend to focus on economic, environmental, and health indicators. Authors Gurecki and Makori make the case for […]

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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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Sustaining Love

By Mark A. Burch

‘Sustaining Love’ explores education for sustainability as a psycho-cultural transformation rooted in moments of personal emotional enmeshment in Nature. It is argued that while technical and economic development provides some of the necessary conditions for meeting our collective sustainability challenge, our choices along the way must be informed by a sense of identity and shared fate with infra-human species and the natural world.

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Sustainability in Beauty: An Innovative Proposing-Learning Model to Inspire Renewable Energy Education

By Ting Tan, Tian Xia, Hunter OFolan, Justin Dao, Zachary Basch, Karl Johanson, John Novotny, Mieko Ozeki and Michelle Smith

Renewable energy has become an important priority to the development of human society. The authors proposed an innovative “Proposing-Learning” model to improve the renewable energy education at the university level, in which the student community was extensively involved in the selection, development and assessment of a capstone project. In this project, a hybrid energy harvesting system prototype comprised of a bamboo wind turbine and solar panels was developed at the University of Vermont. The project idea was initially proposed through an online collective intelligence voting system, and then discussed in a committee comprised of students, faculty, staff and alumni members. A group of undergraduate students, representing different engineering disciplines, worked with the faculty advisors to create the prototype successfully. Good assessment was received from the students and local community for the project. Finally, the authors discussed the future effort to improve this education model and the potential applications of the hybrid renewable energy system.

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Exploring the Politics and Sustainability of Energy Production: A Professional Development Program for Science Teachers

By Mark Bloom, Sarah Quebec Fuentes, Kelly Feille and Molly Holden

This paper describes a three-week professional development program, for inservice science teachers, which included on-site field trips to different energy production sites, explored the variety of opinions about them (via film, podcasts, news media, and expert lectures), and incorporated mathematical modeling as a lens through which to evaluate the relative sustainability of each energy type. The teacher participants explored oil, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, and coal energy production methods. This paper describes in detail their experience at a coal strip mine and a coal fueled power plant. For each type of energy, the teachers completed a pre- and post-assessment on their understanding of how the energy source was used to generate electricity and their perceptions of the environmental costs of each. The participants’ change in understanding of the energy production methods and increasing awareness of environmental costs are shared. Further, in their own words, participants describe the impact of the professional development on their own knowledge base and their classroom teaching as well as their perceptions of experiential learning as a vehicle for conceptual change.

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Figure 1. Central Goals of the VSI 2014 Science and Engineering Academy on Sustainable Energy

Energy Sustainability and Engineering Education for K-8 Teachers

By Tara Kulkarni, Renee Affolter and Deanna Bailey

In August 2014, twenty-nine K-8 teachers from eleven Vermont schools engaged in the science, engineering and pedagogical practices of sustainable energy education. This week long workshop was organized by the Vermont Science Initiative (VSI), with an engineering and science instructor each from Norwich University and Lyndon State College respectively, and in partnership with the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP).

Teachers defined energy in terms of work, differentiated between transfers and transformations occurring across different energy forms, and gained a deeper conceptual understanding of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Opportunities for inquiry ranged from wind turbines, to electrical circuits, to light and Photovoltaic (PV) cells, and an energy bike. These, in combination with scientist meetings and a field trip to a nearby solar PV farm solidified their scientific literacy in the sustainable energy context. The teachers were also led through the Engineering Design Process (EDP) including concepts of design criteria and constraints to learn about sustainably engineering the energy components of systems. Teachers worked in groups to build an Archimedes Screw pump and determined the efficiency of a micro-hydro-generator. By the end of the week, post assessment test results revealed that the teachers had a 37% improvement in understanding various content areas.

By engaging elementary and middle school teachers in fun, hands-on exploration of sustainable energy we hope to bring this form of literacy to our youngest citizens, and future leaders and decision makers. The opportunity to continue engagement throughout the year with three follow-up sessions, and a forum to share the units they developed and best practices through the VT Agency of Education website will serve as a model for other stakeholders interested in implementing a similar program.

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Global Sustainability: An Authentic Context for Energy Education

By Danica Hendrickson, Kimberly Corrigan, Alicia Keefe, Danielle Shaw, Sheeba Jacob, Laura Skelton, Jennifer Schon, Karla Bradley Eitel and Justin Hougham

Reimagining energy education involves moving beyond the basics of energy use, conservation, and efficiency toward a more robust exploration of energy. This exploration should address energy access and equity, the impacts of energy choices, and personal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to sustainable energy solutions. One approach to encourage this evolution is to use a learning context that inspires educators and students to delve deeply and methodically into the social, economic, and environmental interconnections of energy issues—in other words, to learn about energy within the context of global sustainability. In this article, we share Facing the Future’s definition of global sustainability education (GSE), explain why GSE is an effective context for energy education, and use Facing the Future’s newest energy curriculum to demonstrate how GSE can be employed to develop engaging and rigorous interdisciplinary energy curriculum.

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Figure 3.   The green circle in this diagram represents any social system (an organization, community, school, family, etc.).  The progression shown in the circle begins with difference and illustrates a common pattern by which power is accrued by individuals who embody certain characteristics.

Privilege as Practice:  A Framework for Engaging with Sustainability, Diversity, Privilege, and Power

By Matthew Kolan and Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees

This paper explores the intrinsic but often weakly developed links between sustainability and issues of diversity, power, and privilege. It offers a systems-oriented conceptual framework for exploring and understanding how issues of diversity, power and privilege operate in social-ecological systems. This framework can be used as a learning tool with a wide array of audiences (higher education, organizational development, adult learners) and educational contexts (including but not limited to sustainability education programming).

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Sustainability and Library Management Education

By Deborah Turner

The United States along with many other nations actively support the United Nations agenda to educate the next generation about sustainability. Library and information science (LIS) educators may support this effort by incorporating sustainability concepts into the LIS curriculum. While multiple alternatives exist for this goal, this paper argues and provides ideas integrating sustainability into a course focusing on management, offered, and frequently required, by most American Library Association accredited LIS programs. Discussion explains the meaning of sustainability; the international agenda surrounding it; why LIS programs need to help further the sustainability agenda; and, alternatives for incorporating sustainability into the LIS curriculum.

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Teaching Sustainability via the Environmental Humanities: Studying Water, Studying Ourselves

By Todd LeVasseur

The dawning anthropocene requires innovation and organizational change across all types of institutions, including in higher education. One area where innovation can occur is in curricula building, and the offering of pertinent classes for sustainability education. This paper approaches sustainability education within the classroom from the perspective of the environmental humanities, focusing especially on the discipline of religion and nature/ecology. Scholarly tools from these domains provide teaching and research opportunities to help build on-campus and campus-community sustainability networks and initiatives. Three readings are analyzed to explore how teaching about sustainability via the environmental humanities is an integral part of campus sustainability initiatives, both in the classroom, in the community, and with facilities. The readings are international in scope and focus on water resource management. It is argued that exposing students to how different cultures conceive of and thus manage the natural world, and specifically fresh water, presents an opportunity for critical reflection and such reflection can help generate best teaching practices for sustainability education. Furthermore, teaching about sustainability via the environmental humanities can allow for interdisciplinary networks to be forged, thus helping higher educational institutions realize their mission and value statements.

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Sustainability Across The Australian Curriculum: Will It Remain A Priority?

By Hannah O Connor

The purpose of this article is to articulate the significance of education for sustainable development in order to support the integration of sustainability as a cross-curricular priority within the newly developed Australian Curriculum. An investigation into the implementation of sustainability across the curriculum was carried out in two Australian public schools in order to identify its relevancy to various learning areas. The developmental history of the Australian Curriculum will be explored to contextualize this article within the current socio-political environment. Discussions with teachers suggested that the political agendas surrounding the curriculum had influenced the implementation of sustainability in different learning areas. The school located in the Labor electorate had demonstrated their ability to implement sustainability in all six learning areas investigated. Results from the school located within the Liberal electorate showed that sustainability was less of a priority with the implementation of three out of the six learning areas teaching sustainability organizing ideas to students. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the head of curriculum of both schools and their perception of the environment was determined using Sauvè’s (1992, 1994) typology of conceptions for the environment. Focus group discussions with year seven and ten students had identified conceptions similar to that of their head of curriculum. Students identified environmental issues in their discussions and suggested education, as a means for combating climate change. Students expressed that sustainability was important and did so with concerns for the future.

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Integrating sustainability into a social science: what are the essentials?

By Rachel J. Eike, Cosette Marie Armstrong, Kim Y. Hiller Connell, Melody L.A. LeHew, Barbara G. Anderson and Gwendolyn Hustvedt

Social sciences in higher education, including fiber, textile and clothing (FTC) programs, have been slow to integrate sustainability, impeded by limited understanding about what to integrate. The objective of this study was to identify the dominant knowledge and skill areas included in educational programs that evidence high commitment to sustainability education. Qualitative analysis of secondary data revealed fifteen knowledge areas and eight skills in formal curriculum and seventeen topics commonly covered via informal education. This analysis identified natural and physical science knowledge most emphasized in sustainability learning but also revealed the importance of knowledge regarding economic and social issues. The most emphasized skill areas were problem solving, planning and management, and civic engagement. When comparing formal and informal programming there were many commonalities, yet the latter emphasized practical application to daily living. The study utilized the FTC discipline to illustrate how this framework of essentials may be useful as other social sciences reframe curriculum.

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Education in a Culturally Diverse Post-Secondary Classroom: A Space for Potential Transformative Learning for Sustainability

By Helen I. Lepp Friesen

This conceptual article examines how teaching and learning has changed and continues to change as a result of the increase in cultural diversity in post-secondary classrooms. It focuses on how students’ and instructors’ culture and traditions impact the teaching and learning experience in culturally diverse post-secondary settings. Providing evidence from theoretical perspectives, this review assesses the need for and the potentially transformative nature of education that is sustainable.
English may be the lingua franca on North American university campuses, as well as on many campuses around the world, but since students and instructors come from many different backgrounds, just because English is the predominant language does not necessarily mean that education based on Western principles is the only way to do education. International students and instructors come from countries where education may be conducted differently and since the North American university system requires learning to be demonstrated in certain ways, it puts students that come from different systems at a disadvantage. Therefore it would seem that North American universities could benefit from the tenets of culturally sensitive teaching that Gay (2000) suggests as comprehensive, multidimensional, empowering, transforming, and emancipatory.

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Defining Sustainability in Meaningful Ways for Educators

By David Little

Though many post-secondary institutions are moving to incorporate sustainability education into their courses and programs, some faculty have not felt able or comfortable in this endeavor. Part of this may be rooted in the fact that a quantifiable definition of sustainability that is accessible across disciplines is largely absent in the literature. This work reviews a multitude of definitions of sustainability and frameworks for sustainability across multiple disciplines and synthesizes them into the cohesive Quantifiable Definition of Sustainability. The Quantifiable Definition of Sustainability seeks to eliminate barriers faculty across all disciplines may face to meaningful engagement with sustainability education.

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The Self System Drawing: Teaching a Sustainable Worldview through Creativity

By Elizabeth Meacham

A personal reflection, from the professors’ perspective, of an arts integrated learning tool created to teach systems concepts in college level environmental studies and sustainability courses.

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Experiential Education: Many Faces Wearing the Same Expression

By Larry Frolich

I wouldn’t want to try and mimic the elegant, eloquent and erudite arguments that every one of our authors makes for the unsurpassable power of experience in the educational process. In my own discipline, the Biological Sciences, I need look no further than the unstoppable force of the teaching laboratory, to know this truth. How do we get people to change, to do the right thing, to quit smoking, to wear seat belts, to learn something as complicated as heart surgery or sequencing DNA. How do we teach people to become outstanding members of society concerned about improving everyone’s quality of life: we can try teaching it a million different ways, but until they actually do it, the change has yet to happen!

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A Pedagogy for Sustainability Education

By Rick Medrick

Sustainability Education is intended to provide learning, training, and practical experience, in both formal and non-formal settings, that fosters personal development, community involvement, and action for change in our human and natural worlds. Grounded in our experience of the world, Sustainability Education must mirror both the patterns present in our natural environment and the conditions present in our human society with the intention of preparing us for uncertain and rapidly transforming world conditions. Nature is the source of our identity as living beings and society the medium for expressing this. The conditions and needs for our survivability as a species and society will change depending on circumstances and through events that may be outside our control. Our success will depend upon our ability to respond in ways that value personal initiative, responsibility, creativity, commitment, and collaboration with others.

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Sustainability Stew: A Recipe for Problem Framing and Discussion

By Catherine P. Chambers, Erik Koepf, Courtney Lyons and Matthew L. Druckenmiller

The concepts and practices surrounding sustainability are increasingly the focus of many new post-secondary and graduate education programs. However, the term sustainability refers to a complex mixture of disciplines, methods, contexts, and topics. This complexity is often confusing and can create barriers to learning. Comprehensive understanding of sustainability issues requires that students engage in an active learning process, focusing on context and perspective. Our “Sustainability Stew” curriculum, designed by doctoral students in various fields related to sustainability, is intended to guide sustainability education while offering the freedom to explore complex issues in an active, project-based learning environment. In this paper, we provide background and details for the design of the Sustainability Stew Guide and report results from student surveys on the curriculum itself from one undergraduate sociology course at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (n=37), one community college course at Delaware Technical and Community College (n=11), and one graduate-level research group at the University of Delaware (n=7). Student survey results and instructor reports suggest that the Sustainability Stew curriculum is an effective and innovative approach to sustainability education. Finally, we offer analysis and future directions for similar post-secondary sustainability education. Our objective is to offer a novel exercise to aid educators in teaching and discussing the concepts of sustainability in a way that encourages critical, multi-disciplinary engagement.

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A Disciplinary Framework for Teaching Environmental Sustainability

By Shelly Koch and Jesse Freedman

This article presents a case study of a collaborative project between the energy manager and a sociology professor at a small liberal arts college. Introductory sociology students designed and disseminated a survey on energy use at the college and found a disconnect between attitudes and behavior in energy use. While these results were not surprising, this exercise allowed the students to not only learn research methods but students also reported an increasing awareness of their own knowledge and practices in using energy. We believe this type of exercise, using one’s disciplinary methods with an engaged learning project, would be a useful vehicle for teaching sustainability in a variety of disciplines not normally associated with the environment or sustainability.

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Sustainability Leadership Programs: Emerging Goals, Methods & Best Practices

By Mike Shriberg and Lindsey MacDonald

Colleges and universities are rushing to respond to an increasingly urgent challenge: developing the next generation of sustainability leaders. Although diverse in program design, teaching methodologies, assumptions, and skills taught, sustainability leadership programs, with experiential education as a core methodology, are rapidly emerging. This study – the first comprehensive attempt to analyze this phenomenon –explores three primary questions via interviews with 20 program directors and analysis of 50 programs’ materials: 1) What program designs and teaching strategies are sustainability leadership programs utilizing? 2) What principles and assumptions underlie these training methodologies? 3) What are the key requisite skills for sustainability leadership development? The analysis reveals that programs currently focus on network-building, systems thinking and project-based learning. Program leaders define sustainability broadly, with an emphasis on social justice. They focus on communication and engagement in defining leadership. Challenges in program design include the tradeoffs of breadth versus depth as well as tradeoffs in training in specific skills versus analytical methods. Programs tend to either focus on leadership with sustainability as one application or sustainability education with leadership as a subtext. Consistent across programs is the emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Best practices for program design include employing experiential learning, integrating disciplines, moving beyond sustainability knowledge, building community, expanding the boundaries of transformational leadership, change agent training, and acquiring specific skills. While the growth of sustainability leadership programs appears slated to continue in the near-term, the lack of effective assessment limits the ability to demonstrate success and may be a barrier to future growth.

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Employee Engagement: Advancing Organizational Sustainability

By Brooke Moran and Paul Tame

PDF: BrookeMoranSpring2013 Abstract Engaging employees in social and environmental sustainability initiatives “…can improve a business’ bottom line and help it reach its sustainability goals” (NEEF, 2011, p. 14). While some organizations may have sensed this years ago, most are only recently acknowledging how critical employee engagement is to their ultimate success. Presumably, this realization is […]

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Beings of the Earth

By Rick Medrick

Rick Medrick, one of the Guest Editors for this issue of JSE, puts out the call to “take back” our educational process to its origins, where, as beings of the earth, we experience things first and foremost as a way of finding out the truth and the beauty of the natural world. From those roots, he argues, we are sure to find our way to a sustainable future.

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A Conversation Starter: Amplifying Outdoor Adventure Education as an Innovative Tool for the 21st Century

By Jeff Glover

This article explores how to create a sustainable adventure movement and increase the use of Outdoor Adventure Education as an innovative educational tool in schools, communities and businesses. Taking a whole system approach and applying leading social movement and diffusion theories, the Adventure Movement Project seeks to develop a framework for integrating Outdoor Adventure Education into whole communities to inspire servant leadership, achieve sustainability, and drive innovation. Original research presented shares why Outdoor Adventure Education matters and how a socially just and sustainable planet can thrive with Outdoor Adventure Education acting as a highly effective catalyst to drive social, economic, educational, and environmental change.

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Experiencing Sustainability: Thinking Deeper About Experiential Education in Higher Education

By Jay Roberts

Jack Turner (2005) once wrote “we treat the natural world according to our experience of it.” How are our students “experiencing sustainability” in U.S. colleges and universities? With the rise in popularity of education for sustainability initiatives in both K-12 and higher education, experiential education has been championed as a key pedagogical approach moving forward. Experiential curriculum projects come in many different forms. From outdoor education and service learning to so-called “hands-on” applied work on campus projects and field science research, students are increasingly “learning by doing.” Yet far from just another methodology to be used in the classroom, the rise of experiential approaches indicates deeper tectonic shifts in higher education. As students and faculty engage in this form of learning, questions are raised as to the historic divide between theory and practice, the separation between so-called “town” and “gown” cultures, the curriculum and the co-curriculum, and what forms of knowledge and skills are of the most worth to a 21st century graduate. This analysis first briefly surveys the theoretical history of experiential education before proceeding to consider two specific curriculum projects at the intersections between sustainability and experiential education—place-based learning and project-based learning. The analysis concludes with a discussion of the possibilities and limitations of current forms of experiential education in higher education and a consideration of future trends and developments.

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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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An Autoethnographic Exploration of Norway: Nature and Culture

By Doug Hulmes

What began more than thirty years ago as a personal journey to explore my Scandinavian roots has evolved to a deep understanding of my mythopoetic connections with nature that has transformed my teaching. Through the process of exploring, learning, teaching and living in Norway, I have developed a field course for upper division students at Prescott College. From learning to sail traditional wooden boats to assisting with a harvest at a thousand year old farm, students discover the meaning of sustainability thr
ough direct experience, and how people have survived in a landscape that has directly influenced the Scandinavian cultural movements of Deep Ecology, and Friluftsliv or “Free Air Life”. The sharing of cultural wisdom handed down through generations of how to live sustainably with a landscape is rapidly disappearing and is key to our survival.

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Sustainability Education and Environmental Nihilism: Transforming Suburbia through Experiential Learning

By Darien Ripple

This paper will focus on a qualitative research project that occurred in the fall of 2011 at Chandler Gilbert Community College, which set out to better understand the learning process of experiential education by observing the comments and actions of students interacting in nature-based learning. The research study is based on the premise that students who develop a moral awareness of nature will better understand the core conceptual components of environmental sustainability. The main objective of this research project was to assess the transformational learning of students enrolled in PHI-216 Environmental Ethics courses who engaged in experiential learning to better understand environmental sustainability.

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Stages and Breakthroughs: An Illustration of the Story-to-Song Method

By Marieke Slovin and Malcolm Brooks

Story-to-Song (STS) is a collaborative musical process in which a participant and a musical guide work together to create a song from the participant’s spoken story. Within this process can be found stages that progressively transform a written text into a song with a melody, verses, chorus, groove, and chord progression. The authors, who have worked as both musical guides and participants, explore this method in a scholarly realm in order to deconstruct the stages for composing a song. Through a creative deconstruction of this method, they have gained insight into how to create a sustainable, collaborative partnership.

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Building Community Through Engaged Students: CommUniverCity and Experiential, Service-Based Education

By Hilary Nixon and Dayana Salazar

Experiential learning, and more specifically, service learning (SL) can serve as an ideal mechanism to support sustainability education. In particular, because of its emphasis on collaboration between students, faculty, and the community partner(s) and on social change and civic engagement, SL provides an excellent vehicle to address issues related to social justice. In this article, we document a unique SL partnership at San José State University—CommUniverCity. CommUniverCity’s primary mission is to build social capital and empower residents in an underserved community near the university. Each year, students, faculty and residents invest more than 21,000 hours in service to the community. Because of its unique mission, sustainability-related projects lie at the heart of what CommUniverCity does. We analyze student surveys from more than 30 classes engaged in SL projects during 2012 across a wide range of disciplines. All projects address at least one, and often multiple “Es” of sustainability. Our findings indicate that students find value in the SL experience, not only in terms of better understanding of the course subject matter, but also in terms of their understanding of “community” and the larger issue of social justice and equity.

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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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