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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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Graduation Rates of Students Participating on Hurricane Relief Team

By Eric Lassahn

After Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Gulf Coast, Susquehanna University (SU) responded by launching the Hurricane Relief Team (HRT) program. In the past six years, SU has sent 16 teams of 15-20 students each and the program has evolved from a basic volunteer service opportunity into a service-learning experience and later into a two-week, cross-cultural service-learning program. While this study is not designed to determine whether participation in HRT, as a specific program, impacted graduation rates, it is intended to provide support for the correlation between civically engaged students and persistence to graduation. Through this example of a cross-cultural, service-learning program, the examination of graduation rates of HRT participants provides evidence of the potentially transformative nature of the experience as derived from historical data.

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Influences of Field Immersion, Disciplinary Projects, and Extra-Disciplinary Activities on Transformative Learning in an Experiential Learning Project

By Radha Pyati and April Moore

This paper presents a case study of an experiential learning project, an analysis of its transformative learning effects, and a description of the aspects most influential on transformative learning. The project is an eight-day houseboat excursion with students at the University of North Florida. Student work products were evaluated for evidence for transformative learning. The most powerful factors causing transformative learning were the experiential aspect of studying in the field, projects done strictly within a student’s major discipline, and extra-disciplinary projects done intentionally outside a student’s major discipline.

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Educators as Architects of Living Systems: Designing Vibrant Learning Experiences beyond Sustainability and Systems Thinking

By Barbara Widhalm

This article discusses how living systems principles can inform educational design. It describes a theoretical framework for creating academic learning experiences as organic wholes that sustain learning verve. The framework is intended to aid educators in awakening a felt sensation of aliveness, vibrancy, and self-organizing creativity in a group of learners. It seeks to create […]

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Growing Our Own: A Case Study of Teacher Candidates Learning to Teach for Sustainability in an Elementary School with a Garden

By Joanne Carney

This case describes how four teacher candidates, placed for a year-long internship in an elementary school with a garden, learned to teach for sustainability. Evidence from the interns’ Teacher Work Samples, survey data, interviews, and observational data are used to assess the extent to which teacher candidates demonstrated the knowledge, skills and dispositions to teach […]

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Teaching for Transformation: (Re)Designing sustainability courses

By Heather Burns

If educators are to effectively prepare learners with the knowledge, skills, and values they will need for creating more sustainable places and communities, a transition must be made from transmissive teaching models to transformative learning processes. But how can courses be designed or redesigned so that they create opportunities for transformational sustainability learning, and how […]

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