Case Study

Collaborative Ground Work in an Urban Green School: Empowering Students as Change Agents

By Laura Jennings, Kemeka SIdbury, Tamika Bierlein, Sohail Sukhera, William Sterrett and Jodi Hebert

Abstract: This case study provides insights into a collaborative effort involving D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, a public university-run lab school in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The article overviews the combined efforts of DCVPA staff, university faculty, and community partners to engage the students in unique, hands-on learning experiences, particularly in the STEM areas. Students have taken the initiative to serve as change agents and leaders in the work. Several efforts at the school, including a composting program, a recycling effort, a seedling project, and a mycology lab, provide a window into dynamic experiential learning that has brought the university and school together.

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Report

How to attract new target groups to address the SDG objectives: The case of an intelligent aeroponic community garden

By Heidi Rajamäki-Partanen and Timo Witikainen

Abstract: To successfully implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must encourage all citizens to work together to enable a good life not only for us now but future generations too. In this article, we present an experiment carried out in autumn 2020 on a smart aeroponic garden. The goal of the experiment was to learn more about aeroponic cultivation and IoT technology and to acquire the know-how that would enable the participants to influence the environmental burden of food production. Our experiment showed that technology could also be used to introduce sustainable development themes to reach those target groups whose attention could not be attracted through other methods.

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Some effects of an unstructured outdoor activity on preschoolers: A case study from Aotearoa, New Zealand

By Emel Okur-Berberoglu

Abstract: Early childhood educators emphasize that outdoor education learning outcomes are very important for preschoolers because early childhood education has a huge effect on the later stage of adulthood. Outdoor education can take place on playgrounds or in natural environments. The aim of this study was to determine some effects of an unstructured outdoor activity on preschoolers. A qualitative case study methodology was used in order to assess the effect of a bush explorer activity on children. In terms of establishing the research’s reliability, the qualitative analyses were supported by the triangulation data collection methods, which included non-participant observation and parents’ interviews. Content analysis was used in order to evaluate the data. According to the results, eleven different themes were determined: Problem solving, self-confidence, environmental awareness, observing and exploring, friendship and social skills, creativity, sharing experience, relaxing, having fun, conflict, and rejection. All themes, except conflict and rejection, are coherent with the literature.

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Opinion

Because it is fun? How to design for long term engagement in informal sustainability education.

By Rebecca Jordan and Amanda Sorensen

Abstract: Many have written about the different ways people participate in authentic scientific research. However, some of the means used to engender public support in research may prove ultimately counterproductive. In this opinion piece we argue that science is not fun much of the time, and more importantly that fun in itself is not an end goal in engaging public audiences. To draw participation, we need to focus on motivation; which can include fun some of the time.

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Case Study

Sustainability-Themed Programming Around Nature-Themed Literacy: Great Nature Reads and Multilingual Storytime

By Laura Guertin and Karen Theveny

Abstract: A partnership between a university and local arboretum was expanded to include the campus library as a collaborator. Instead of having sustainability-themed programming between the two institutions focus on just the environmental components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a library brings attention to literacy and information access across all aspects of the partnership. We share two public programs held between our university and an arboretum with strong involvement by the library in the development and execution stages, thereby increasing the connections across the SDGs and progress towards the 2030 agenda.

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Case Study

Empowering Staff Members to Improve Student Learning in Sustainability Projects: The “We Are All Educators” Workshop at Harvard University

By Kris Markman, David Havelick and Margaret Wang

Abstract: Staff members play an important role in guiding students through living lab sustainability projects at Harvard University. Since there are significant opportunities for co-curricular learning in these settings, we created the “We Are All Educators” professional development workshop to empower those staff members to optimize and track student learning throughout these projects. In this case study, we will briefly summarize key principles of CCL and discuss its benefits as a tool for sustainability education in higher education. We will also describe our planning and implementation process for the workshop, the content of our training materials, and the results. Finally, we will end with key takeaways, as our workshop may be applicable to co-curricular learning in a variety of higher education contexts.

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Journey

A Tree, a Rock, a Butterfly

By Julie Dunlap

Abstract: This word journey explores flaws in our approach to cultivating environmental ethics and caring for biodiversity, especially among youths, through the lens of Carson McCullers’ classic story about the tragic but common failure of so many to achieve love between human beings.

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Case Study

Placemaking Curricula in Teacher Preparation: 
Bridging State Standards and Local Expertise

By Laura Liu

Abstract: This study examined how placemaking curricula shaped teacher candidate (candidate) knowledge, dispositions, and skills to understand, appreciate, and sustain local diversity, as evidenced through candidate reflections and products created in an elementary teacher education course integrating civic science concepts and practices into elementary classrooms. This study explored how placemaking curricula engaged community stakeholders in meaningful shared inquiry on real-world challenges, while meeting state science education standards. Placemaking inquiry projects developed by candidates focused on soil and water conservation, and sustaining diversity in schoolyard spaces. Curricula engaged candidates in learning soil and water conservation techniques from local farmers and conservation leaders, then developing and sharing co-authored civic science children’s books on conservation topics aligned to grade-level standards. As further placemaking curricula, candidates partnered with elementary teachers and students to guide schoolyard observations, designs, and models constructed to sustain diverse abilities, cultures, and ecologies. Presentations to parents and peers celebrated shared insights.

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Journey

25 Years Pioneering High Altitude and Glacial Archaeology from the Mountains of Argentina

By Constanza Ceruti

Abstract: Glacial archaeology is an emerging field of scientific research, rapidly expanding in Scandinavia, the Alps and North America. And yet its origins are to be found in the Andes of Argentina. Constanza Ceruti is the first woman high altitude archaeologist in history. Her pioneering contributions to this field of research involve having ascended and explored, sometimes solo and unsupported, more than one hundred peaks above 5000 meters in remote corners of the Andes. In 1999, Ceruti codirected the scientific excavations on mount Llullaillaco (6739 m), the highest archaeological site in the world, and co-discovered three extraordinarily preserved frozen mummies, together with an outstanding collection of artifacts from the Inca civilization (currently housed at the Museum of Mountain Archaeology in Salta, Argentina). In recent years, Ceruti has climbed hundreds of mountains in different parts of our planet, to study (from an anthropological perspective) their role in pilgrimage, folklore, popular devotion, mythology, identity and tourism. Her academic production includes more than one hundred scientific papers and twenty-five books on sacred mountains of the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and Polynesia. A northern hemisphere predominance in anthropology at large, and particularly in high mountain and glacial archaeology (associated also with mobbing and male chauvinsm in mountaineering), have led to a lack of proper recognition, not only for her own  pioneering career, but for the rightful place of the Andes at the forefront of academic research on the sacred role of mountains in ancient cultures.  

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Report

GIS and Sustainability Engagement in Higher Education

By Ryan Kmetz and Kayla Hickman

Abstract: Does the use of an interactive GIS web map significantly influence the level of sustainability stakeholder engagement at institutions of higher education? With over 1,000 institutions of higher education across the globe, the AASHE STARS report is one of the main tools available to sustainability professionals. For many institutions, the STARS report serves as a metric of sustainability progress and a source of new ideas and methods, while GIS provides a platform to display information within a context of systems, places, or times. Interactive web GIS allows for digital storytelling and can allow the user to explore specific information pertinent to their interests. This research explores potential links between the use of web GIS platforms and levels of campus engagement as measured by STARS.

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Case Study

Case Study: Integrating Scenario Planning into Sustainability Practicums

By Stephen C. Trombulak and Jack M. Byrne

Abstract: Sustainability education can productively focus on concepts and/or skills, each playing an important role in preparing students to promote sustainability in society. We describe here the skills-based curriculum in an environmental sustainability practicum designed for undergraduate students. Although our curriculum provides training in numerous relevant skills, we focus here on one in particular: scenario planning. Originally developed in the 1970s by Shell Oil to develop robust business strategies in the face of future uncertainties, scenario planning is applicable to any planning domain where future conditions may be driven by the outcome of critical unknowns. For example, planning for effective community resilience in the face of climate change may depend on the degree of government support for renewable energy systems. In this practicum, students work in teams of 3-4 on the same challenge: Assess a specified human-natural system for its vulnerability to climate change in the next 20 years and develop solutions that effectively increase the resilience of the system in the face of uncertainty.
Scenario planning involves six steps: (1) Identify driving forces for future changes; (2 and 3) Identify certainties and uncertainties for future conditions; (4) Rank uncertainties by the degree to which they might affect future conditions; (5) Create a 2×2 grid of possible future scenarios based on the two most influential uncertainties; and (6) Describe the future world in each of these four scenarios. Using creative ideation techniques developed by IDEO for their Human-Centered Design methodology, students then use these four scenarios as the basis for envisioning effective strategies for promoting resilience regardless of how the critical uncertainties unfold (adaptive planning) or for influencing uncertainties to increase the probability that preferred scenarios manifest.

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Koalas – Agents for Change: A case study from regional Victoria

By Rolf Schlagloth, Barry Golding, Barry Kentish, Gabrielle McGinnis, Ian D. Clark, Tim Cadman, Fred (David) Cahir and Flavia Santamaria

Abstract: We investigated the success of the Koala Conservation and Education Programme conducted in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia from 2000-2009 by interviewing 28 individuals, from various stakeholder groups involved in the project. Transcripts were analysed using grounded theory to identify common themes, keywords and phrases. We conclude that the chosen ‘flagship’ species, the Koala, was crucial for the success of the project which culminated in the adoption of the Koala Plan of Management and habitat overlays into the City of Ballarat’s planning scheme. Local people were concerned about the Koala based on its conservation status nationally and globally rather than because of its local or Victorian status. We conclude that the concept of ‘flagship’ species in the case of the Koala, is more a global than a local construct. 

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Report

Unthinking Oil Together: Developing a Collaborative and Transdisciplinary Course to Imagine a Post-Carbon Future

By Gabriel Fuentes, Daniela Shebitz and Julia Nevárez

Abstract: While it is widely recognized that effectively addressing climate change requires a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, we nonetheless find ourselves in an impasse, unable to imagine nor bring about a post-carbon future. This is, in part, because climate change is not only a technological problem, but also a philosophical, cultural, and aesthetic problem—an existential crisis of thinking, or perhaps unthinking. To unthink the carbon regime, higher education must forge new thought models and educational platforms that operate in solidarity across disciplinary scales and territories. This report documents a collaborative course development process for a grant-funded transdisciplinary course entitled: Unthinking Oil: Public Architecture and the Post-Carbon Imaginary. In particular, we discuss a virtual Unthinking Oil Workshop held with students and faculty from a range of disciplines. The workshop provoked broad discussions regarding the role of higher education in addressing the many entanglements between climate change, society, and the built environment.

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Journey

Listening for a Life-Sustaining Society

By Jen Mason

Abstract: After 20 plus years as a sustainability educator, the author had one of those lie-awake-at-night-staring-at-the-ceiling experiences where she faced some hard questions about the state of the world. In this article, describes her subsequent journey investigating the role of listening in shifting to a life-sustaining society and her Ph.D. research into how to support listening across differences to address complex social-ecological challenges.

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Interview

River Meditations: A Journey into Environmental Education 

By Blake C. Scott. and Merrie Koester

What if a river or a creek were to tell us its story? In this short film and interview, we offer a glimpse into the ecological philosophy guiding our efforts to create “more sustainable ways of living with water and how to appreciate its capacities to support all life.”

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Case Study

The Thin Blue Line: Community-Based Climate Change Adaptation and the Case of RCE Greater Dhaka (Bangladesh)

By Paul Kolenick

Abstract: In 2008 astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured an image of sunlight as it passed through the Earth’s thin atmosphere, described as the thin blue line of “all that stands between life on Earth and the cold, dark void of space.” At the center of sustainability education is a discourse of climate change and life’s demise on the planet. In this short article, the contributing role of the United Nations University’s Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) for sustainability education is explored with respect to community-based climate change adaptation, notably through RCE Dhaka (Bangladesh) as an example of the challenges and opportunities for climate change adaptation in one of the most heavily populated megacities of the Global South.

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Journey

Fire Lessons: Thinking Through Place and Displacement

By Jesse Moon Longhurst

This piece explores the author’s relationship with fire (domestic fire and wildfire) and the lessons inherent in a rural life that is both dependent on fire and threatened by it. It explores the curriculum of fire as one of nonattachment, of community cohesion, of the legacy of colonialism and of the connection to place.

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Fostering Student Activism About the Climate Crisis Through Digital Multimodal Narratives

By Blaine Smith, Richard Beach and Ji Shen

Abstract: A challenge with engaging students in taking action to address the climate crisis is that they may assume that they have little or no agency related to having an impact on audiences or policymakers. In this report, we describe students’ use of videos and digital storytelling as multimodal tools for communicating the need to address the climate crisis with different audiences. We discuss the importance of narratives in digital storytelling as a means to foster student engagement with issues of sustainability, as well as provide an overview of different types of digital multimodal productions students can create to promote a sense of agency. Next, we describe one program in-depth (Project IF) and explain how the similar use of digital tools promotes creative problem solving and leveraging media to explore climate issues. We conclude with a discussion of the critical media literacy practices associated with the effective use of digital tools for addressing the climate crisis.

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Caring as Class: Resolving the Emotional Paradox of Climate Change Education

By Lyles Ward, Kelly Overstreet, Yiwen Wu and Jasmin Moore

How do we help students (and ourselves as instructors) prepare to engage in sustained action in the face of climate change and its root causes of extraction, inequity, racism and colonialism? In this article, we elaborate on the conceptual and practical challenges in preparing students for sustained action to imagine and enact a compassionate and sustainable future in the face of climate change. We discuss our integrated teaching-research-engagement approach aimed at examining the potential role of compassion as a transformative practice for reducing long-term risks from natural hazards and climate change. We provide summaries of and reflections on a pair of courses taught in 2019 and 2020 that explored, respectively the inner personal dimensions and external relational dimensions of professional work to reduce climate risks. We conclude by detailing some of the lessons we’ve learned in the processes of convening these courses and look to future opportunities for growth and sustained action as educators ourselves.

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Sustainability education in the Anthropocene: Storytelling, the environmental humanities, and the unknown Since

By Nathan Hensley

In this paper, I draw from the fields of curriculum studies and the environmental humanities to address the sustainability issues associated with the Anthropocene and to theorize what it means to reinhabit our unique bioregions. I argue that it is time to transgress the fragmented and mono-disciplinary investigations emblematic of the academy by embracing pluralistic ways of knowing and going beyond conventional epistemologies to better understand the cultural forces involved in wicked problems such as climate change. Using autoethnography, I draw from my personal experiences related to higher education for sustainable development while discussing what it means to better appreciate a problem’s intractability and to hold our assumptions open to questioning. Additionally, I make connections to Donna Harraway’s conception of staying with the trouble in the midst of these socio-ecological turbulent times. Accordingly, I theorize what it means to stay with the trouble by learning to “love the questions” inherent to studying sustainability issues while articulating the roles that reflection, storytelling and transdisciplinary scholarship play in (re)envisioning a future that sustains the (more than) human world.

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Board Games as Educational Tools

By Linda Pope

The use of board games in education is under-utilized. As we come out of this pandemic, and adjust to new directions, education can reinvent itself, and create better learning environments. Games can engage students with different learning styles and inspire individual creativity. Board games represent the missing tool in our toolboxes, and they can replace the traditional lectures with a method that reaches all students. This literature review introduces the background needed to incorporate games into curriculum and to encourage educators to embrace that possibility of engagement. Games have the potential to lead us into action in our communities and find solutions for global climate change issues.

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What I know, what I think I know, how I act, & why I don’t: Examining students’ self-assessed vs. scientific knowledge about climate change

By Kristina Howansky, Mary L. Nucci, Cara L. Cuite and Rebecca Jordan

The present study examined what undergraduate students thought they knew about climate change, what they actually knew in terms of scientific knowledge, and how these two types of knowledge predicted their pro-environmental intentions and behaviors. We tested these questions using a cross-sectional online survey and data from a subsample of undergraduate student participants who believe in anthropogenic climate change (N = 3,310). Students reported moderate levels of self-assessed knowledge yet objectively lacked an understanding of the causes of climate change. Self-assessed knowledge more strongly predicted pro-environmental intentions and action than actual knowledge. Students’ understanding of the consequences of climate change predicted intentions while understanding the causes and climate science predicted action. Students self-identified a lack of knowledge and a lack of prioritization as barriers to climate change mitigating action. Pedagogical implications are discussed.

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Case Study

Supporting Eco-Character Development Through Community-Based Inquiry Learning

By Andrea Kunze

Abstract. This study investigates whether children at an urban place-based environmental education camp can develop three dimensions of eco-character development after week-long participation: Head (knowledge), Hand/Feet (action), and Heart (care/connection). Using a community-based and inquiry-driven curriculum, campers practiced the roles of an arborist, ecologist, and environmental steward. Fifty-five Campers were assessed on all three dimensions using a 10-question pre/post-survey. An overall increase in content knowledge, relationships with nature, and motivation for pro-environmental behaviors were found. Outdoor environmental education summer camps and other out of school experiences may be the new avenue for educators and instructors to consider when trying to promote positive eco-character development in future generations.

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Case Study

Effect of Ecopedagogy-Based Environmental Education on In-Service Teachers’ Consumer Behaviour in Turkey: A Follow-Up Study After Seven Years 

By Emel Okur-Berberoglu

Abstract:  Ecoliteracy can be defined as an understanding of natural systems and connections between biotic and abiotic factors within sustainable future. Green consumerism is an observable side of ecoliteracy. The aim of this study is, therefore, to examine the long-term effect of environmental education programmes intended for in-service teachers in terms of behavioural change. The teachers were joined ecopedagogy-based education programmes funded by TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) in Turkey and were followed up after seven years. The methodology of the study was mixed method within a case study. Quantitative data were collected by a survey and analysed by R statistics. Qualitative data were analysed by content analysis. It was found that the green consumer behaviours of in-service teachers have improved in the long term. However, it is needed more follow up studies within different time frames and country comparison studies in the future.

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Incorporating Public Deliberation into Sustainability Education

By Lisa Morano and Windy Lawrence

Abstract: A course in sustainability was implemented at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD).  The course was open to all students at UHD with a goal of teaching sustainability as the complex interaction of multiple fields (economics, social science and environmental science).  UHD’s Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) was interested in applying the concepts of public deliberation into courses outside of communication.  For effective public deliberation, students need to learn the skills of soliciting and incorporating diverse opinions as a pre-requisite of working together toward a solution.  Many students attracted to sustainability, including science and technology majors, do not realize that most problems of sustainability are not merely technical problems but problems that arise from conflicting ethical frameworks.  Students outside of public deliberation rarely have an opportunity to practice engaging in the tools that will be critical for them to develop solutions within the complexity of current social systems.  We review the value of public deliberation in higher education and the logistics of bringing public deliberation into a sustainability course.  We summarize the logistics of the collaboration with a focus on deliberation, planning and action in a semester-long group projects with a focus on creating healthier communities.  We report on the impacts of both the communication and science faculty and the survey data from students.  Finally, we discuss the value of such a collaboration in sustainability education.

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‘Challenge to the South’ Revisited: A Case Study Worldwide of Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

By Paul Kolenick

Abstract: Three decades ago Julius Nyerere (1990) wrote Challenge to the South. In response to the legacy of colonialism, Nyerere challenged the nations of the Global South to advance their development and to free their people. These concerns are as relevant today as they were in the 1990s. Established for the United Nations Decade of Education Sustainable Development in 2005, there are now over 175 Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for sustainable Development (ESD). This paper offers a case study of RCEs worldwide with a particular focus on challenges, and responses, including a focus on the select Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of poverty and health. Further, an account is given of RCEs which have attended to the recognition of Indigenous and traditional ways of knowing. 

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Beyond Traditional Teacher Professional Development: Innovations in Teacher Professional Learning in Environmental and Sustainability Education

By Julie Ernst, Deanna Erickson, Eva Burgess and Ryan Feldbrugge

Continued implementation of conventional professional development strategies will likely fall short of the innovations needed to prepare teachers to fully engage in and implement environmental and sustainability education. The Rivers2Lake education program based in Superior, Wisconsin, USA illustrates a transformational approach to teacher professional development.  We examine the program as a working example of three UNESCO learning processes that have been identified as aligning with and contributing to education for sustainability (Tilbury, 2011): collaboration and dialogue; engaging the whole system; and active and participatory learning.  Through a review of these processes, the article offers considerations for innovating teacher professional learning for environmental and sustainability education.  Key recommendations include shifting from isolated professional development events to ongoing professional learning as well as further investigation of the specific mechanisms that drive each of the UNESCO learning processes.

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Wanting to Share: How Integration of Digital Media Literacy Supports Student Participatory Culture in 21st Century Sustainability Education

By Andrew Bernier

Abstract: Recognizing that most modern students have access to smartphones equipped with multi-media capture capability, this article explores how sustainability education must include digital media literacy in 21st Century learning. Through the lens of a sustainability and media teacher, the article analyzes literature from the fields of digital media literacy, 21st century skills, and sustainability education. The author ties together theoretical and practical methods of how embracing digital media when teaching sustainability can enhance student learning and sharing of sustainability knowledge. With references to emerging trends, critiques, and challenges to media technology adoption in sustainability education settings, the author outlines several techniques to empower teachers and students to incorporate technology they already use daily, and share their work with greater audiences to engage communities beyond the classroom.

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Editorial

Vanessa Nakate and Perceptions of Black Student Activists

By Chelsea McFadden

Abstract: This editorial discusses the intersection of environmental and racial justice and how the movement has failed to center voices most affected by climate change.

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Students’ Participation in Tree Planting Activity: Promoting the 21st Century Environmental Education

By Christopher H. Punzalan and Ma. Lyka M. Balanac

Universally, trees have been an important part of urban landscapes for millennia since they offer adequate benefits to humanity. Studies highlighted the positive impacts of biodiversity conservation in the students’ academic performance but there is still lack of literature pertaining to its role on the promotion of environmental education in the Philippines. On this note, this study aimed to analyze the Filipino senior high school students’ perceptions and experiences on participating in a tree planting activity, identify the implications of tree planting activity in studying Earth and Life Sciences, and explore the perceived constraints and opportunities. The study design is descriptive-qualitative in nature. Based on the qualitative data analysis, five themes have emerged such as: (1) simple yet beneficial; (2) opportunities and constraints; (3) practical application of learning; (4) environmental awareness promotion; and (5) mitigating environmental degradation. In conclusion, tree planting activity as a part of the field study program in schools is one of the most effective ways to combat and slow down the effect of global warming while promoting the students’ academic interests. This study also highlighted the positive impact of tree planting by improving the Filipino students’ perceptions of life, community, and environment which is the goal of 21st century education. Lastly, the study recommends the development of extension programs to school communities in the Philippines and worldwide that will arouse the interests and participations of the students to tree planting activity, gardening and ecological tours by partnering with relevant organizations and agencies.

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The Impact of Environmental Biology Courses on the Human-Nature Relationship and Pro-Environmental Behavior of College Students

By Kelly Cartwright

The relationship with nature and pro-environmental behaviors of community college students in introductory environmental biology courses were assessed using psychometric instruments and environmentally-themed Likert-based statements. Post-class, students demonstrated an increase in level of concern for non-human species and viewed themselves as closer to nature. Students’ motivation for environmental concern for other people or themselves was not affected by completion of the course. As a result of the class, students demonstrated increased levels of pro-environmental behavior, such as thinking about the environment, recycling, and energy and water conservation. Changes in relationship with nature and pro-environmental behavior were moderated by professor, suggesting that the professor’s teaching style and attitude may influence students’ views and attitudes. Neither gender, age, student status (full- or part-time), nor type of class (with lab or without lab) influenced students’ relationship with nature or pro-environmental behaviors. Substantially increasing the personal responsibility and degree of interaction with course content, as reflected by the comparison of an honors section to regular sections, did not result in significant changes in either relationship with nature or pro-environmental behavior. Applications to course instruction and environmental education at large are discussed.

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Linking sustainability education with the Sustainable Development Goals in K-12 schools

By Emily Hurd and Alison A. Ormsby

Sustainability education has changed identities a number of times over the last decades. How might whole-school sustainability (WSS) prepare students to address current global issues?  A focus on teaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) creates opportunities for students to develop systems thinking and to learn to take civic action.  We visited four schools in the United States to observe and document replicable models of K-12 WSS.  In our research, we used a mixed methods approach to code data from interviews, classroom observations, and school campus tours.  Results from a case study analysis of four K-12 schools map out pathways toward implementing and refining WSS education programs to include the SDGs, systems thinking, and civic action.

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From children’s literature to sustainability science, and young scientists for a more sustainable Earth

By Quan-Hoang Vuong

As the future of human development increasingly hinges on the need for sustainable education, this essay re-examines the imminent threats to humankind and the relevance of achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the engagement with sustainability science among today’s young scientists. It also discusses some socio-political and economic challenges to achieving sustainability and argues that developing sustainability science is difficult but not impossible. The hope lies in our current efforts to build productive and creative scientific communities through nurturing youth engagement with science via multiple channels such as children’s literature and science communication.

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Creative tools and design principles for sustainable classrooms

By Neda Movahed and David Manuel-Navarrete

Standardized, assembly-line models of education have created significant momentum for unsustainable classroom situations. Classes are sustained throughout the term using ranking systems and proof of outcomes such as grading and reporting on content knowledge acquired. There is a clear ending in sight. Both students and instructors are often bound to this ending, often feeling a deep sense of relief at the end of each class session. As sustainability educators, we have become conscious that industrialized methods of education no longer serve societies re-envisioning ways of sustaining themselves. Sustainability Education necessitates sustainable classrooms – spaces that are alive, adaptive, and open to innovation. We explore design principles that can support sustainable classrooms, focusing on creativity, humanity, horizontality, and compassionate facilitation. We share examples of creative learning tools used in a 300-level Sustainability classroom in Arizona State University. Data collected through student interviews and journaling are woven throughout the article to ground our viewpoints with practical insight.

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Farm-to-Table: How One Teacher Fostered Passionate, Project-Based, Place-Based Learning

By Jacquelynne Anne Boivin

Abstract: While passionate, project-based, and place-based education may sound like a stream of buzz-phrases or fads in education at face-value, this article uncovers their impact on student engagement and academic proficiency. While they are not textbook, traditional, pedagogical approaches, they are esteemed in the field of Education as undeniably effective and worth teachers’ consideration. This article discusses the impactful aspects of a.) passionate teaching, b.) project-based learning (PBL), and c.) place-based education (PBE). A former fifth-grade teacher’s experience in creating and implementing a curriculum titled, “Farm-to-Table,” contextualizes the power of passionate teaching, PBL, and PBE when used simultaneously. The article concludes with special considerations for other teachers that warrant attention before they start planning their own passionate, PBL, and PBE curriculum.

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Case Study

Campus Forest Carbon Sequestration: An Undergraduate Project Experience

By Mark Bremer, Emily Frisa, Rachelle Maccarone and Daniel Seif

Abstract: Predicted changes in climate have generated interest in strategies to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases and increase education on the topic. Our study involved an instructor-led team of 19 biology undergraduate students that aimed to quantify tree carbon sequestered on 67 hectares of a university campus forest near Utica, New York, and estimate its monetary value as a carbon offset. We identified individual hardwood and conifer trees and measured diameter at breast height (DBH) of 343 trees within fifteen 0.04-hectare sample plots during a 3-week period. We estimated total campus forest carbon to be 7,678 Mg and annual sequestration to be 82 Mg C/year. We also found additional educational value of this voluntary field research project beyond traditional ecology field exercises. Campus managers could choose to count sequestered carbon as an offset to annual CO2 emissions from campus operations. Although our campus is not eligible to sell the accumulated carbon, we calculated a one-time offset to be worth $143,397 on the voluntary carbon trading market. Future studies could benefit from the efficient sampling methodology we used to quantify carbon contained in large forest areas and increased student learning from project-based field exercises.

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Case Study

An Audio Journey Through Solutions to Global Warming in Pennsylvania

By Anna Nguyen and Laura Guertin

Abstract: Podcasts are increasing in popularity as an educational tool in recent years, but there remains a lack of podcasts that focus on climate change. The goal of this project was to create a series of audio files that address global warming solutions in the state of Pennsylvania, with each episode based upon a drawdown solution. Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that models how to reach “drawdown”— the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. This audio collection contains new and original podcasts addressing each Project Drawdown sector of global warming solutions, such as materials and waste, electricity generation, and land use. To highlight efforts in Pennsylvania, thirteen interviews were conducted with scientists, journalists, and professionals from organizations across the state, such as Feeding Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia Green Roofs, StateImpact Pennsylvania, and Land Air Water Legal Solutions. Named Drawing Down in Pennsylvania, the podcast collection starts with an introductory episode, then eight episodes each corresponding with one of the Project Drawdown sectors, and wraps up with two additional episodes – one titled “Hope” with messages of optimism towards achieving warming solutions from the interviewees, and a special episode that focuses on The Pennsylvania State University and its efforts toward to drawdown. The audio collection is published online, together with corresponding transcripts and supplemental materials. It is hoped that these podcasts will help inform Pennsylvania residents to make choices and to take action for a sustainable future. For residents outside of Pennsylvania, these drawdown efforts can be applied to different populations and regions. The entire podcast series can be accessed at: https://sites.psu.edu/drawingdownpa/ and is suitable for middle school through college classrooms as well as general audiences.

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Case Study

How An Arboretum Outreach Activity Changed Students’ Attitudes Towards Sustainable Development

By Laura Guertin, Karen Theveny and Ivan Esparragoza

Abstract: In Fall 2017, Penn State Brandywine kicked off an initiative titled Sustainovation, emphasizing programming and community collaborations through sustainability and innovation. The campus identified Tyler Arboretum as a community partner to work with to assist in advancing their education and outreach goals. Students from across the campus came together at the beginning of the semester for an initial meeting to be introduced to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to meet the community partner and to hear about the semester project of adding sustainability education to the arboretum’s fall festival Pumpkin Days. In addition, a validated survey from Biasutti & Frate (2017) was given to the students to define their attitudes towards sustainable development before working with this partner and the project. The survey addresses four sustainability constructs of Environment, Economy, Society, and Education. At the end of the semester, the same survey was given to student participants in this Sustainovation project for Tyler Arboretum. Aggregate data show that there is a statistically significant difference in student attitudes at a minimum 90% confidence level (t-test) for eight of the twenty survey statements in the constructs of Environment, Economy, and Society.

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Case Study

Inspiring Action, Efficacy, and Connection: Weaving Sustainability into Environmental Science Curriculum through a Connected Learning Model

By Teresa Bertossi and Philip Halliwell

This comparative case study of teaching and learning experience explores connected learning design principles to improve engagement in higher education and weave sustainability practice into introductory environmental science curriculum through the integration of community, place, peer support, networking, and technology.  For this study teaching and learning took place in multiple settings, online and in a brick-and-mortar classroom, and in students’ communities. We set out to ask: In what ways might the implementation of connected learning principles be used to improve engagement and weave sustainability into environmental science curriculum, broaden interest in science literacy, and encourage community action in introductory higher education courses? Comparative analysis and collaborative autoethnography methodologies were utilized to compare professor experiences for analysis and synthesis of patterns.  Findings suggest that connected learning curriculum can broaden access to science, improve engagement, and help weave sustainability into a variety of courses by presenting students with relevant applied opportunities, connections and critical thinking about place and community, peer support and intergenerational connections, networking, and technology. Students can also gain a sense of agency and career relevance especially important to students who might otherwise feel they cannot “do science” or make a difference in a changing world.  Lastly, this approach can improve instructors’ teaching experiences by relieving time and content constraints to incorporating sustainability into other course subjects as students submit more interesting passion-driven work, and are encouraged to network with and learn from individuals (family, community, and scientists) outside the classroom they may not have otherwise sought out.

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Journey

Thinking Like a Trout Stream

By Julie Dunlap

Abstract: Aldo Leopold’s classic essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” has been a touchstone of environmental ethics and sustainability education for over seventy years and continues to challenge and inspire wildlife ecology undergraduate students, and many more. But has it lost some power in the face of mounting evidence of accelerating damage and growing threats to the natural world, threatening biodiversity and human society on a global scale? Students and others now need another Leopold story, one that encapsulates an environmental ethic with a call for urgent action, a metaphor that urges not just change, but rapid transformation.

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Editorial

Media Education and Ecological Modernism: Embodiment, Technology and Citizenship

By Carl Bybee and Shelby Stanovsek

Abstract: The field of media education, emerging within the instrumental vision of modernity, has largely ignored its unspoken modernist assumptions. In this article, we argue the time has come to fully engage an embodied view of media from an evolutionary, ecological perspective—what we might call ecological modernism. This is a perspective that views media as evolving mediations through various material/technical practices, where body knowledge, rather than some idea of objective reality, is understood as the empirical ground for how we come to make sense of ourselves and the world. The focus is then shifted from the problem of subject versus object relationships to how subjects and objects are mutually constitutive. By extension, the juxtaposition of the concept of citizen with the body clarifies yet another crucial dimension of the embodied perspective. Two examples of “citizen”-based media education projects are briefly reviewed from this ecological modernist perspective in order to consider the implications of resituating grounded citizen-oriented media education.

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Interview

The Tree of Life (2011), Eco-theology & Film: A Conversation with Prof. George Handley

By Benjamin Thevenin and George Handley

Movies as Mirrors is a conversation podcast in which guests discuss films that reflect a social issue that interests or affects them. On this episode, Professor of Humanities George Handley discusses the 2011 film “The Tree of Life” with podcast creator Benjamin Thevenin and guest-host Camlyn Giddins. The conversation explores the film’s representations of our relationship with the natural world, and in particular its use of eco-theology to introduce its audiences to ecological issues. We discuss the value of film as environmental education for the public and the need for more nuanced cinematic representations of issues like climate change.

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Report

Connecting Youth, Eco-Media and Resilience in Appalachia

By Derek Douglas, Emmanuel Garcia and Mary Grueser

Abstract: In the summer of 2019, the We are All Connected urban-rural youth media program launched Something in Our Water, an eco-media documentary project that investigates the shared problem of water sustainability, public health, and climate change in their communities. This article discusses the transformative experience that the youth from New York City and the Clearfork Valley in the East Tennessee Appalachian mountains had as they learned about the history of multinational coal mine companies’ economic and environmental exploitation of the community, and the fierce and unequal power relations that continue to challenge environmental advocates today. With a focus on the perspectives of one of the Tennessee youth producers, the article reflects on the impact intergenerational learning and multicultural collaboration can have in nurturing future youth and community eco-media activists in Appalachia in the face of deeply rooted local and structural constraints. Through the process of documenting struggles in urban and rural communities, the youth team developed a deeper understanding of how the environmental justice movement cuts across differences to show how everyone is connected and can be empowered to take action.

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Case Study

Training community-based journalists for climate change reporting: lessons from South Africa

By Brett Cohen and Leonie Joubert

Abstract: Reporting to the public on climate change impacts, adaptation, and mitigation requires journalists to be equipped to engage with a wide range of technical content in order to communicate it in an accessible and engaging way. Recognizing the need for journalists from a wide range of backgrounds, including those from community newspapers and radio stations in South Africa, to be able to undertake this task, the South African Department of Environment Affairs in partnership with GIZ commissioned the authors to develop and deliver a four-day climate change reporting training programme. This paper presents an overview of the structure and content of the course, and details the reflections after undertaking such an endeavor.
Based on the lessons learned, and an awareness that this kind of training may take place in the context where working community-level journalists may have a low knowledge base (of both the journalistic craft, as well as the content of climate science) the following recommendations emerge: scientific training may need to be combined with basic journalistic training (depending on the participants); learning-by-doing is central to journalists building their capacity in climate reporting training; and mother-tongue delivery of material is critical to the success of such technical training courses.

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Case Study

Snacking on Media Literacy: Young Children, Sustainability, and Design in Media Literacy Education

By Chelsea Attwell

Abstract: This case study illustrates a cross-curricular learning experience, anchored in standards, where teachers and students actively engaged in co-constructed, inquiry-based learning and design thinking. The particular question this case study addressed was “How might students connect with environmental citizenship in authentic ways through media literacy experiences?” Specifically, the case study invited primary level learners to engage in a multimodal experience that was anchored in media literacy concepts and process. A pedagogical approach rooted in media literacy theory subsequently empowered students to make positive environmental changes in their communities and develop citizenship skills for the future. The project sought to develop awareness of sustainability through analysis, re-design, and production of snack food packaging. Educator reflections offer ideas for project improvement, such as producing for a wider audience, offering more choice, and making broader subject connections. This case study has implications for practice by demonstrating that, through various stages of scaffolding and integrated lesson design, young children are capable of applying sophisticated media literacy theory, inquiry, and design thinking to meet multiple curriculum standards.

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Opinion

Moving from STEM to MESH

By Tim Wise

America is falling behind the rest of the world in science and math. There is therefore, a renewed emphasis on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). But while mastery of STEM subjects is essential to the functioning of society, we’ve neglected some other areas that are at least as important, if not more so. But without an equal commitment to comprehensive civics education — an examination of subjects that touch on the relationships between people, government, the economy, and media — all the technical know-how in the world will be for naught. The author suggests a renewed focus on MESH education, which stands for Media Literacy, Ethics, Sociology, and History. Because if these are not given equal attention, we could end up with incredibly bright and technically proficient people who lack all capacity for democratic citizenship.

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Editorial

Coal’s Last Gasp, Its Resuscitation by Media, and the Habitus of NIMBY

By Carolyn Fortuna

Abstract: The shift away from coal to renewable energy for electricity generation is producing environmental benefits during the climate crisis but also poses uncertainty for coal producers and others along the coal supply chain. Media representations of the coal debate shape how citizens understand and respond to it. This commentary exposes how audiences – even of pro-environmental media – reproduce dominant discourses promoted by fossil fuel corporations and reconceptualize those discourses into a Not in my Backyard (NIMBY) worldview. Critical discourse analysis helps to reveal how tensions between coal companies and renewable energy proponents are exacerbated by controlled coal messaging. Coal propaganda evokes images of a noble and reasonable energy source and places coal within a positive framework that enhances local knowledge, protection, and economic security. Conclusions point to the importance of media literacy instruction as a means for consumers to gain critical distancing strategies and broader perspectives about the climate crisis.

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Editorial

Ecomedia: The metaphor that makes a difference

By Antonio Lopez

  Link to the JSE April 2020 Ecomedia Literacy Issue Table of Contents Lopez Ecomedia JSE April 2020 Ecomedia Literacy PDF   Abstract: Media is an ambiguous metaphor that changes meaning depending on how it’s used by educators. Typically media are only characterized by how they represent reality and communicate ideas. Consequently, the metaphor assumes a […]

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Case Study

Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective: Sustainable Storytellers Challenging The Status Quo

By Jason Corwin

Abstract: The Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective, a community organization based in Ithaca, New York, set out to define sustainability in their own terms by giving a diverse group of local adolescents the opportunity to engage subjects of environmental and social justice through digital media production within the auspices of a unique afterschool job-training program. Interviews with youth participants and adult mentors illustrate key concepts for environmental and sustainability educators desiring to facilitate engaging learning environments utilizing multimedia. Excerpts of their interviews provide a lens into the workings of a non-formal educational environment that explicitly embraced media literacy, media arts production, and community engagement to advocate for issues of justice and sustainability while facilitating opportunities for ecological learning. This case study highlights the potential of digital storytelling to foster students’ knowledge retention, connection to nature, sense of empowerment, and ability to create positive change in their communities.

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Fake Climate News: How Denying Climate Change is the Ultimate in Fake News

By Antonio Lopez and Jeff Share

After the 2016 US-presidential election and Brexit referendum, fake news emerged as a quintessential democratic problem that media literacy was tasked to solve. The broad social concern about fake news acknowledges that the public sphere is a kind of commons that requires tending, and reminds us of the human (and civic) need for authenticity, honesty, clarity, and fairness in our shared discourses. In light of the perceived danger to democracy that fake news embodies, increasingly media literacy is seen as fundamentally about cultivating civic engagement skills. In addition to improving the news and information ecosystem of social media, media literacy promotes critical thinking skills and fundamental research techniques to distinguish legitimate and authentic information from propaganda, disinformation, hoaxes, lies, and blatant manipulation.

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