Archive: Departments

Assessing Air Quality through a Sustainable Educational Model

By Josefina Villavicencio, Alexandra Benitez, Jessica Barlow and Zohir Chowdhury

The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of a sustainable learning framework through a community-based project in the Southern California region. The Sage Project is a partnership between San Diego State University (SDSU) and a local government in San Diego, California. The framework promoted educational innovation by allowing students to utilize existing courses and focus on partner-identified real-world projects to help advance the needs of partnering cities. Recognizing the need for air quality research in the partner cities and after consulting with both local governments regarding their environmental needs, SDSU graduate students were able to conduct research and communicate their results concerning air quality in a manner that benefits local community stakeholders, as well as, the university and students involved. Through the assembly and quantification of air pollution data, graduate students provided a brief snapshot of air quality trends in partnering cities to establish a foundation of air quality results to be used toward generating mitigation strategies to reduce particulate matter air pollution. By providing never before conducted air quality research in both communities through a sustainable educational model, both community partners and students benefited through enhanced research and community engagement opportunities while community partners obtained valuable and informative research, ideas, and solutions concerning their community needs. This paper provides a demonstration of the ability for project-based curricula facilitated through a community and university partnership to be replicable in higher education coursework.

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Sustainability Knowledge Assessment at a Large, Regional, Minority-Serving Institution

By Loraine L. Lundquist, Kiana Lucero and Helen Cox

To assess the sustainability literacy of students at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), we administered a modified version of the Assessment of Sustainability Knowledge (ASK) to 2,993 students in 60 courses over 5 semesters. CSUN is a large minority-serving institution with a regional focus. Within the general student population, students gain about 2.7 percentage points each year as they progress from freshman to senior year. For each sustainability-related course they take (up to 3), they also gain an average of 2.7 percentage points. Within our core sustainability courses, students gain an average of 11.6 percentage points from pre-test to post-test. Students enter CSUN with a statistically significant gender gap in sustainability knowledge with males having average scores 7.6 percentage points higher than females, but the gender gap closes completely by completion of coursework in a sustainability minor program. Our students enter college with less sustainability knowledge than those in two other more selective institutions who conducted similar surveys (Ohio State University and Wartburg College) but gain knowledge at a similar rate. We also find that students with more prior sustainability knowledge self-select into sustainability courses and that students from different majors improve sustainability knowledge at different rates when taking related courses.

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Client-Oriented Project Based Learning Using Building Audits

By Jess W. Everett, William Riddell, Christopher Moore, Samantha Valentine and Robert Krchnavek

This paper presents best-practices for client-oriented project based learning (PBL) based on building audits used to impart practical sustainable engineering skills. Insights were gained over years of natural reflective practice during which students conducted off-campus building audits for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Few studies have explored the use of off-campus building audits with real clients in project based learning courses. A survey of students from recent semesters, plus tangible outcomes, are used to evaluate success. The building audits are valued by students and clients. Best-practices contributing to the success of the building audit course are described which can be used by any PBL practitioner. Critical best-practices pertain to training, deliverables, a report template, a submit-review-resubmit cycle, and regular interaction between undergraduate students, graduate student, faculty, and client staff. In particular, repeated cycles of submitting reports, getting comments, and resubmitting appear to be vital to both student learning and client satisfaction. On average, student teams submitted their major report 3.75 times and received comments 3.9 times.

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We are where we are from: Flaneurism and writing about walking our streets

By Helen I. Lepp Friesen

Reynolds (2004) says we write from where we are (p. 53). What does that mean? In a class called Composing our City, place, place-based learning, and place-based projects were the sustainable modus operandi. We wrote, thought, and created where we are from. As we engaged in place-based learning, we touched on topics like the emotions places evoke, how environments come with a sense of place, learning the art of flaneurism, and how crossing borders in our assignments teaches us aspects about our environments and ourselves we could not learn otherwise. Flaneurism was our method of collecting data and the object of our writing, as we explored, described, and discovered where we are from.

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Looking for Sustainable Systems on Campus

By Andrea Frank and Aaron Knochel

Abstract: Higher education campuses play an important role in developing visionary models of sustainability that integrate campus facilities, student learning, and research. We reflect on a series of visits to campuses within New York state utilizing systems thinking analysis of sustainable initiatives finding interconnections between buildings, pedagogy, and campus life. Campus infrastructure-systems, curriculum, and campus actors present agentic interconnections that contribute to teaching the campus community about sustainable systems. Our journey presents three big ideas for conceptualizing our encounters: wayfinding, defining occupancy, and implementing a vision that articulate how campus spaces and green infrastructures exert agency in teaching us about sustainable living. These big ideas are explored to conceptualize and reflect on our role as art and design faculty to use our workplace and hence campus life as a context within which to speculate on sustainable living.

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Socially Engaged Art and Agriculture: Experimenting with Extension

By Lucas Ihlein, Laura Fisher, Kim Williams and Simon Mattsson

Abstract: Solutions to environmentally damaging human practices require cooperation between many different communities. This article explores sustainability-focused education through the lens of a current work-in-progress, Sugar vs the Reef?, which involves collaboration between sugarcane farmers and artists in the arable catchment of the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland. This is a socially engaged art project that is addressing the fraught relationship between the region’s agriculture and the fragile ecology of the Reef. We introduce some of the specific aspects of socially engaged art (SEA) which commend it as a cross-disciplinary method for bridging diverse individuals and organisations – in particular, the notion of a “holding environment” for complex socio-ecological situations. We consider how this approach might broaden the agricultural practice of “extension” which aims to transform farming through educational outreach. Ideas emerging from contemporary socially engaged art practice may contribute to a toolkit for researchers and practitioners within and beyond the academy who are searching for ways to overcome the limitations of current methodologies and movements for social change.

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How Matching Systems Thinking with Critical Pedagogy May Help Resist the Industrialization of Sustainability Education

By Andrew Bernier

Abstract: This theoretical and conceptual article explores the connection between systems design in education, specifically curriculum design, and critical pedagogy, the educational adaptation of critical theory. The author presents the well-established concept of how the industrial standardization of education stems from the imposing of linear structures onto curricular design, inherently suppressing students and communities to have greater control on their educational experience. While there have been great gains in sustainability education, it is self-defeating to the systems thinking nature of sustainability to have sustainability instruction follow traditional linear formats. The author discusses some essential concepts to systems thinking and systems design, and then explores many of the preeminent authors of critical pedagogy and their respective viewpoints. In the discussion, the author interweaves how a systems approach to curriculum design can help meet calls made by critical pedagogy theorists, possibly alleviating some of the oppressive curricular norms assumed by industrialized linear education.

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Indigenous Sustainabilities: Decolonization, Education, and Collaboration at the Ojibwe Winter Games

By B. Marcus Cederström, Tim Frandy and Colin Gioia Connors

Abstract: In this article, we examine the collaborative efforts of university-employed folklorists with Waaswaaganing Anishinaabe (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) teachers and community leaders in what is currently known as northern Wisconsin. Focusing on the Ojibwe Winter Games—an annual weeklong event in February for middle school students that aims to revitalize traditional competitive games—we suggest that decolonizing sustainability education requires recognition that sustainability is pluralistic and culturally specific. Educators must facilitate a restorative systemic shift towards Indigenous sustainabilities through Indigenous-centered pedagogies and methods of knowledge production. In order to accomplish such a shift, our responsibility as academics and public folklorists must always be to the Indigenous communities with whom we work. We explore the role of non-Indigenous collaborators in Indigenous-led decolonization efforts, in developing educational systems that support and sustain Indigenous knowledge systems, and in the repatriation and rematriation of land, language, and culture.

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Gratitude as Ceremony: A Practical Guide to Decolonization

By Kahsto’sera’a Paulette Moore and Tehahenteh Frank Miller

Abstract: Throughout 2016 and 2017 more than 300 Indigenous nations from around the globe united on the plains of North Dakota, where Standing Rock affinity camps provided space for native prophecy and ceremony to play out in ways meaningful to our modern times. Standing Rock protection actions made clear to all what we’ve known for centuries: Indigenous peoples’ relationship to the natural world provides a powerful antidote to the prevailing madness that insists nature and people are expendable as long as money is being made. Within our own Rotinonhsyón:ni (Iroquois) nations the act of gratitude is at the heart of our key ceremony that connects us to our Earth as it dissipates this violent culture.

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Heritage

By Ron Riekki

Heritage

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The White Kid at the Native American Camp

By Ron Riekki

The White Kid at the Native American Camp

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Saami

By Ron Riekki

Saami

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Indigenizing Sustainabilities, Sustaining Indigeneities: Decolonization, Sustainability, and Education

By Tim Frandy

Abstract: Decolonization is a multifaceted and complex process, involving a wide range of concepts, including the restoration of Indigenous lands to Indigenous control, improved recognition of tribal sovereignty, strengthening of Indigenous worldviews and knowledge traditions, cultivating cultural responsiveness in education and health care, aligning research methods with Indigenous cultural priorities and values, and more.

This special issue of the Journal of Sustainability Education on the topic of Decolonization and Sustainability Education reflects many of these diverse projects. The issue is inclusive of Indigenous and allied voices, of academic and Indigenous discourses, of large-scale political actions and—what Jeff Corntassel calls—“everyday acts of resurgence.” The selections are arranged in ways that center Indigenous voices and the work on the ground that reinforces Indigenous sustainabilities and Indigenous-centered pedagogies.

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Our Ways: Culture as the Heart of the Indian Community School

By Carol Ann Amour, Anthony Brazouski, Jason Dropik, Jacob Jones and Mark Powless

Abstract: Since the 1990s research has been telling us that indigenous students do better in school when they are connected to their cultures. Our experience affirms studies concluding that students who have strong connections to their culture are more resilient and have a stronger sense of efficacy.

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An Experience in Environmental Education with University Students

By Raúl Calixto Flores

The educational experience described in this article was developed in the course “Social and Cultural Contexts of Teaching” for the Sociology of Education bachelor’s degree at the National Pedagogical University, Mexico. In this course, students are expected to develop favorable attitudes toward the environment. The student’s defined environmental problems made a diagnosis and elaborated a case study, to discuss concrete solutions in their community. The educational experience included several moments: framing, joint planning of individual and group activities, and development of the case study. The balance of the results of the course was favorable; the group learned to work cooperatively, mutual trust prevailed within the teams, group agreements were respected, the group goal was clearly defined, and a case study was delineated and developed.

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Una Experiencia En Educación Ambiental Con Estudiantes Universitarios

By Raúl Calixto Flores

La experiencia educativa que se describe en este artículo se desarrolló en el curso “Contextos sociales y culturales de la enseñanza” de la licenciatura de Sociología de la Educación en la Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, México. En este curso, se espera que los estudiantes desarrollen actitudes favorable hacia el medio ambiente; los estudiantes delimitaron problemas ambientales, hicieron un diagnóstico y elaboraron un estudio de caso, para discutir soluciones concretas. Desde el reconocimiento de la crisis ambiental y un problema ambiental específico, los estudiantes desarrollan un estudio de caso de un problema ambiental de su comunidad. La experiencia educativa comprende varios momentos: encuadre, planificación conjunta de actividades individuales, grupales y desarrollo del estudio de caso. El balance de los resultados del curso fue favorable; el grupo aprendió a trabajar de forma cooperativa, prevaleció la confianza mutua dentro de los equipos, se respetaron los acuerdos grupales, se definió claramente el objetivo del grupo y se delineó y desarrolló un estudio de caso.

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Learning Sustainable Cultural Safety in a Crowded, Warming World

By Alexander Lautensach and Sabina Lautensach

Among all the pressing needs for educational innovations that we face today, arguably the most imperative is the need to elicit learners’ active collaboration towards a ‘Great Transition’ into a secure and sustainable future for humanity. Among the numerous challenges that this endeavour entails, the anticipated arrival of unprecedented numbers of climate refugees will severely challenge the capacities of host institutions to maintain human security – connecting to a second pressing need, namely to promote and maintain cultural safety for newcomers and hosts. We focus on the question how compatible those two educational projects might be. To what extent could a Transition curriculum include and inform a curriculum for cultural safety, and how could a curriculum devoted to the principles of decolonisation internalise the need for living within our means? Neither one can be successful without the other. In general the two educational projects are reconcilable and inform and reinforce each other. However, some specific objectives of the Transition curriculum, mainly in the affective domain, require careful attention to cultural differences and reasoned compromise.

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Seeing Snow: A Siftr Challenge Aimed at Transforming Student Perceptions of the Winter Environment and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

By Thomas A. DuBois

Abstract: This paper introduces an experiential learning assignment “Snow Challenge 2015” incorporated into an undergraduate-level interdisciplinary humanities and social science-based course focusing on a single Arctic Indigenous culture: the Sámi [Lapps] of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Kola Peninsula. The assignment used the open-source app Siftr and an accompanying open-access informational website on Sámi snow terms to allow students to apply Lule Sámi snow terminology to snow phenomena they observed in and around their home campuses and neighborhoods. The assignment’s goal was to enhance student learning related to each of the four categories of environmental literacy presented in Hollweg et al.’s (2011) framework: knowledge, attitudes, competencies, and behaviors. A content analysis of a random sampling of student essays written at the conclusion of the assignment showed significant enhancement of student learning, particularly in the areas of attitudes and competencies. The assignment helped model for students the value and nature of an Indigenous-centered curriculum and the pragmatic nature of Indigenous traditional knowledge in living effectively within a winter environment.

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Community-based learning: An Amazing tool used by college students to build tiny houses for the homeless

By Linda Pope

Abstract: Two tiny houses were constructed for the homeless at Dignity Village, Portland, Oregon, by Portland Community College students in two sustainability courses over 6 terms, using different approaches. By engaging the business community at large, various non-profits, parents of the students, and residents of the homeless village, the idea of community-based learning (CBL) was embraced by the instructor. CBL created an environment in which lack of experience and wide cultural variation were transformed into a cooperative community of inspiration.

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Ancient Wisdom, Modern Times: Decolonizing Education Paradigms in a Southwestern Tribal Community

By Carrie Calisay Cannon

Abstract: For millennia, education for the Hualapai Tribal people was learned through intergenerational lessons taught with the family. This provided younger generations with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in harsh desert environments. Over the past centuries tribal education has undergone numerous transitions. For the past twelve years the Hualapai Ethnobotany Youth Project has implemented an intergenerational learning program with the elders and youth of the tribal community to instill the centuries old knowledge that could only have been obtained through generations of experience. The program looks to new ways in modern times to teach the old ways in maintaining the continuity of knowledge that only the grandparents can remember.

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Stories of Place: Ojibwe Knowledge and Environmental Stewardship in the Northwoods

By Eleva Potter and Jerry Jondreau

Ojibwe education is used at Conserve School, an environmental semester school, to help high school students better understand diverse perspectives on stewardship and to explore the history, cultures and place of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. In the Environmental Stewardship class, students learn about indigenous history, culture and environmental perspectives from a local Ojibwe forester. The students use this perspective to help them appreciate their place at Conserve School and explore their own environmental ethics. Students also participate in Ojibwe seasonal celebrations to better comprehend how place and people are interrelated.

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The Hidden Curriculum of Sustainable Development: The Case of Curriculum Analysis in France

By Angela Barthes

Since a curriculum represents a selection of socially constructed knowledge, it should be interpreted as a stake-holder in an ideological process. It is a political issue whose forms depend, among other things, on the degree to which education systems are centralized. Today, supranational bodies can influence the curriculum, particularly within the framework of UNESCO’s implementation of the decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Consequently, examining the curricula associated with the emergence of ESD involves examining the politics underlying them, politics which are not always explicitly stated – hence the interest in the concept of a hidden curriculum. The purpose of this study is to analyze the ESD curriculum in France. To this end, we use a methodology that considers the main work conducted about ESD in the framework of French research programs and based on the concept of hidden curriculum. This requires performing a diachronic analysis of changes in curriculum choices and forms of schooling, and identifying the value system underlying those changes. We identify several of the main characteristics of those changes, including in terms of project dynamics, partnership, transdisciplinarity, the role of knowledge, the distance from practice, and the persistence of a western conception of development. We then situate the French specificities within the international context.

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Regenerative Agriculture: Editorial Overview

By Clare Hintz

In this issue of the Journal of Sustainability Education we explore regenerative agriculture, traveling from the inner city to the shores of Lake Superior. The research in this issue integrates both an ecological and social justice perspective and approaches the theme in a multitude of ways. Each writer actively explored the intersections between agriculture, land, […]

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Building an Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge Initiative at a Research University: Decolonization Notes from the Field

By Michelle Jacob and Hobie Blackhorn

Abstract: In this article, we discuss the importance of Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge as the foundation of sustainability education, and we describe the need for, and successful efforts to, begin building an Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge initiative at a research university. We share the guiding theoretical framework of our work, and the three goals of the initiative. We note the tensions involved in crafting a vision statement that a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students can all uphold in our collective work. We conclude with a description of our next planned steps for the initiative, and our hopes that this work will help decolonize sustainability education.

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Editorial Overview: Measuring Sustainability: An artist’s reflection on the 29 years since Wendell Berry’s “Nature as Measure”

By Anna Metcalfe

Link: Table of Contents — Art, Social Change, and a Vision of Sustainability Sustainability – its meaning is often as elusive as the ideal itself. As an artist, sustainability can feel like a distant goal. Artists often struggle to maintain their professional practice while balancing physical well-being, spiritual and emotional wellness and healthy relationships with […]

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Upstream

By Anna Metcalfe

Upstream is an art project that builds connections and circulates stories among people who are linked to teach other through a common watershed. Experiences and memories about water are collected and shared through conversations over tea. Over time, these stories will help build common ground in communities where water can be a divisive issue.

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A creative vision of sustainability: How informal educational avenues may impact change

By Rachel J. Eike, Sissy Osteen and Erin Irick

A sustainably-minded and technology-driven 2032 scenario was created to illustrate subtle attitudes and habits of characters based upon their collegiate informal learning and leadership experiences while earning an undergraduate degree. The creative scenario suggests that, based upon findings from a SLfSD (student leaders for sustainable development) study, leadership components may be identified and cultivated through informal educational avenues (i.e. student organization involvement) to help communicate and transition others to think and act in more environmentally-minded manners. The objective of the study was to explore the leadership components (leadership roles, personal capacities, and styles) of SLfSD. Quantitative, multivariate regression analysis of purposive sampling of student attendees of the 2013 AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) revealed interesting influencers of leadership styles and personal capacities, including the interaction of gender, age, ethnicity, and leadership role (aspiring vs. formal leaders). This research suggests that SLfSD possess dynamic capacities and preferences that can impact the necessity for and effectiveness of sustainability-focused programming.

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Shade Grown Coffee

By Laura Corcoran

Many migratory and native birds benefit from the habitat created by shade grown coffee plantations.

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A Wild Compliance

By Ben Weaver

I’ve got maps spread out
all over the kitchen floor
headwaters splintering into deltas

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Pollinators

By Laura Corcoran

In my work on pollinators, I have been focusing on pollinators’ role within our food systems, and how human land use and agricultural practices threaten the diversity of native and non native species alike.

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The Emerald Ash Borer Project

By Josh K. Winkler

This report describes artist Josh Winker’s Emerald Ash Borer Project in Minnesota, United States.

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Determining Essential Components of a College-level Bioenergy Curriculum in the United States Using the Delphi Technique

By Kimi Grzyb, Brian Hartman and Katharine Field

In order to develop bioenergy into a viable industry capable of providing valuable energy and employment, there is an immediate need for a workforce prepared for the impending challenges of this emerging, interdisciplinary industry. To meet this need, it is necessary to identify and prioritize the topics that should be included in a college-level bioenergy curriculum. We implemented a three-round Delphi study to determine components of a college bioenergy curriculum in the US, by establishing consensus among a panel of American bioenergy experts. Round One consisted of a single open-ended question: Keeping in mind the future of a commercial bioenergy industry, what content knowledge should a student have upon completion of a college-level bioenergy curriculum? Responses were qualitatively coded into themes, and experts were asked to rate the importance of each theme using a five-point Likert-type scale during subsequent rounds. The final round resulted in 13 themes: Energy Basics, Types of Bioenergy, Environmental Impacts (including Life Cycle Analysis), Current Technologies, Societal Issues, Logistics, Policy, Biomass Composition, Non-Bioenergy-Specific Fundamentals, Biomass Production, Conversions, Bioenergy Market, and Business-Related Knowledge. Results will be used to bolster the existing bioenergy education initiative at Oregon State University, and can provide guidance to other institutions in the US and abroad interested in developing similar bioenergy education programs.

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Children of Change: An Experiment in Producing Visual Climate Messaging for Parents and Caregivers

By Erica Ramsey Pulley

For my culminating master’s project, I attempted to apply carefully selected theories and research to guide the production of a five-minute video trailer for a potential future documentary titled Children of Change. The video project endeavors to illustrate the myriad ways families and children in the United States are impacted by climate change, including proximity to the processes that contribute to climate change such as fossil fuel extraction, transport, and consumption; how the climate issue is inextricably tied to and will continue to exacerbate existing systems of oppression at home and around the world; and how our children’s health and future well-being are most at risk. Children of Change also documents how parents, youth, and families are engaged in the fight for their lives.
Video can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/226170224

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Youth Shine in Musical Theatre for Sustainability

By Beth Osnes

I created Shine, a mini-musical performance for 4th-12th grade students that uses theatre to explore issues of sustainability. It weaves climate science and artistic expression into a funny and powerful story that spans three hundred million years of geological time to convey the relationship between energy, humanity, and climate. Rehearsing each song in this half-hour musical immerses youth in the issues surrounding climate and energy and leads participants in embodying different aspects of climate science and human development that brought us to this point– where our use of fossil fuels is impacting our climate. The first half of the show is professionally scripted, composed, and choreographed to tell the story that has already been told by history. The second half—our future story– is made up of skits authored by local youth to generate solutions for their community’s sustainability challenges. A final song and dance celebrates this achievement and embeds the spirit of commitment into the catchy tune that students will be singing for perhaps decades to come.

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Student-Produced Short Films About Impacts of Climate Change on Local Communities: An Effective Approach That Combines Art and Place-Based Learning

By Anne U. Gold, Erin Leckey, Megan Littrell-Baez, Lesley K. Smith and Susan Lynds

Here we describe how science learning can be enhanced through filmmaking. Combining the creative process of film production and its engaging storytelling and artistic components with science learning allows students to take ownership over their learning process and makes science accessible to learners who might not be reached through traditional science classrooms. We describe a model in which students develop a short film that investigates how climate and environmental change impacts their lives and their communities. Students are guided by college student mentors or teachers through a five-step program that includes: (1) selection and research of their topic, (2) development of a storyboard and script, (3) filming, (4) editing, and (5) a capstone screening event showcasing the final film. Through this process, students deepen their understanding of climate science and its complexity, while increasing their appreciation of the impacts of climate on society. Students also gain exposure to science and technology careers, while gaining confidence in their ability to complete a project.

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Assessing the Level of Awareness on Climate Change and Sustainable Development Among Students of Partido State University, Camarines Sur, Philippines

By Ariel B. Barreda

The participation of youth in any disaster risk reduction activities could be enhanced when they have high levels of awareness on climate change. But there seems to be scanty information about their level of awareness. The study was conducted to investigate the level of awareness of youth studying in a state university in the Philippines, and to determine the factors that influenced their awareness. The study employed the descriptive survey method using a 5-Lickert scale instrument involving the students of Partido State University (PSU), Camarines Sur, Philippines. Respondents (n = 247) were selected randomly from the undergraduate student population, and were stratified by their year levels. Although there was no qualitative difference observed among the respondents, the computed weighted mean for all variables under investigated differ across year levels. Based on the computed weighted mean, level of awareness is generally higher among senior students than first year students. Similar observations were made for all variables, i.e. computed weighted means increase as year level increases. In addition, the factors perceived to be significantly influencing the level of awareness of the respondents have differed across year levels. First year students perceived personal experience while second and third year students as well as fourth year students perceived education and government actions, respectively as much important factors that could influence their level of awareness. The channels of information about climate change also differ across year levels based on the computed weighted means. Among the four channels presented in the survey, first and second year students perceived mass media and family and trainings and seminars, third year students perceived internet and social media, and fourth year students perceived education, mass media and family and trainings and seminars as important channels of information. Overall, the differences could be utilized as bases in developing academic as well as extracurricular activities that are sensitive to the sex and year level of the involved students to improve their cognitive adaptive capacity.

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Embodying education: performing environmental meanings, knowledges, and transformations

By José Castro-Sotomayor, Jeff Hoffmann, Melissa Parks, Maggie Siebert, Mariko Thomas and Tema Milstein

This essay presents an exploration of a wide spectrum of current ecocultural relations through the creative methodology and expression of performance. We present a script of a performance inspired by a seemingly simple prompt for a pedagogical free write exercise “When I say ‘nature,’ I mean…” The goal of the free write exercise is to illuminate and open up for questioning and transforming our cultural assumptions, embodied meanings, and social constructions associated with the idea of “nature.” The authors/performers reflect about the process of creation and their intimate struggles with environmental ideologies often hidden behind the veil of common sense, political posturings, or disciplined concealments. As an art form, performance allows engagement with imaginations that emerged as radical, thus insinuating the need for a more nuanced and free scholarship, as well as for embracing performance as liberating pedagogic activism.

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Imagining a sustainable future: Inspiring creativity in science education and outreach

By Jillian L. Blatti, Jiaqi Liu, Frieda Schwebel, Ellen Chan, Felix Monge, Naneh Vartan, Jason Hernandez, Danyal Cave, Edward Garcia, Anjalee Buwanekabahu, Shirley Chang and John Garcia

Art-science intersections are a powerful means to inspire creative thinking in our future scientists, engineers, and citizens, which will allow them to imagine and build a sustainable world. Coupled to active learning and collaboration in science education, art can be a means to evoke deep meaning in abstract concepts such as Planetary Boundaries (PB). Relating PB to an individual’s choices and actions makes these concepts more tangible. As our nation strives to produce more science and engineering majors, we see an emphasis to recruit students to these fields early in their education, but this education does not always inspire creativity or encourage students to use their skills to create a sustainable future. This is particularly true in underrepresented, less privileged populations, where students see a career in science or technology as a means to live a more comfortable life—which can be very resource intensive on our planet. Through our undergraduate research program at Pasadena City College, we translate our research in sustainable materials into lessons to teach underrepresented middle school and high school students about sustainability. Hands-on classroom experiments focused on sustainability and renewable energy drive in-depth discussions relating PB to each student’s actions within their community. Outreach to underrepresented populations has stimulated interest in sustainability and careers in which STEM degrees can be applied to ‘green’ urban areas and make individuals aware of how their choices can impact the environment. Sustainability education is therefore an opportunity to promote diversity in the STEM workforce. Importantly, these outreach efforts have also greatly impacted the community college students who design and carry them out.

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Cultivating Change: A Cross-Age Arts, Literacy, and Sustainability Project

By Joyce Kinkead, Andrea Melnick and Olivia Webb

This essay describes a project in which a 4th grade class joined forces with a university class to study and produce as theatre Paul Fleischman’s Seedfolks, an inspiring story of a diverse group of community residents who transform a vacant urban lot into a wonderful community garden. In addition to the arts component, the two teachers unexpectedly found an opportunity to encourage sustainability of education when their students embarked on a pen pal correspondence.

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Old Material…New Material

By Helen Turner

Many educators teach the topic of sustainability, but how many do so in a sustainable manner? From the requirement of textbooks, to paper for printed syllabi or assignments, higher education is a consumer of resources. The materials of design education, however, expand to include media like trace paper for ideation or foamcore for model making, as a means of communicating ideas. Yet, following presentations and grades, a majority of these physical materials enter the waste stream while digital versions populate online portfolios. Hence, design education provides a unique and transferable lens to explore an inquiry-based collection, documentation, exhibition and repurposing of discarded materials, to render new insights and re- imagine pedagogical practices, wherein learning and deliverables truly reflect the values and discourse of sustainability.

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The Story of Data: Subversive Integration of Artistic Knowing

By Dustin Loehr

The field of Arts Education is rich in Data. Where qualitative studies fall short when it comes to influencing wide-spread policy decisions, the author calls Educational Agencies, Arts Educators, Community Arts Organizations, and Teaching Artists to ‘reframe’ their communication findings to positively influence sustainability and increased access to the field. Arts Education Practioners and advocates must increase their education policy literacy to transform into effective agents of change.

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Conceptions of Sustainability within the Redesigned K-12 Curriculum in British Columbia, Canada: Mapping a disputed terrain

By Gerald Fallon, Robert VanWynsberghe and Patrick Robertson

The purpose of this policy study is to provide to educators and curriculum writers a critical account of the diversity and contestability of the conceptions of sustainability embedded into the policies and processes related to the transformation of K-12 curriculum in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. First, we examine the different conceptions of sustainability within the context of distinctive socio-cultural paradigms: the industrial, the existentialist, and the symbio-synergetic. Second, we address the following key questions: in what socio-cultural paradigm is the dominant conception of sustainability grounded in new K-12 curriculum policy in B.C. and in which ways does that paradigm question the dominant industrial notion of modernity and development?

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Sustainability and the Olympics: The case of the 2016 Rio Summer Games

By Sylvia Trendafilova, Jeffrey Graham and James Bemiller

The Olympic Games are the ultimate mega sporting event with not only hundreds of thousands of athletes, but also hundreds of thousands of spectators, volunteers, media, and security personnel. The Olympics concentrate a large number of people in a confined space (one city or even specific areas within the city) over a relatively small period of time (two weeks), thus introducing inevitable hardship to the natural environment. This case study focuses on the challenges Rio faced in preparation to stage and host the 2016 Summer Olympics Games, and at the same time provide an environment safe to all. More specifically, the case focuses on the water quality in Rio and the associated health risks for athletes competing in the open water events. This case study provides students with knowledge about the history of environmental sustainability in the Olympics and prepares them for a career in a global industry that is increasingly focusing on and implementing environmental initiatives.

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Environmental education in teacher education programs: Incorporation and use of professional guidelines

By Rebecca L. Franzen

Faced with everything from climate change to resource depletion, citizens must be environmentally literate. One path to literacy is through teacher education. Participants in this U.S.-based study completed a survey, indicating teaching methods and assessment strategies used to address the Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators themes. Although many indicated unfamiliarity with the Preparation Guidelines, the majority address them in their teaching. Fostering Learning, Environmental Literacy, and Planning and Implementing Environmental Education were commonly addressed, while Foundations of Environmental Education was not frequently addressed. Discussion, inquiry-based learning, and assigned readings were often used teaching methods, while lesson plans and reflections were common assessments. The results suggest that faculty members are implicitly including EE and that there are gaps in meeting the competencies in EE.

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University Students and Sustainability. Part 1: Attitudes, Perceptions, and Habits

By Kurt Rosentrater and Brianna R. Burke

Increased understanding amongst scientists and the general public about anthropogenic impacts in general, and climate change in particular, behooves us as educators to adjust our courses and curricula. “Sustainability” and “green” topics are increasingly being discussed and incorporated, but this should be done with deliberation. We undertook this study to understand attitudes, perceptions, and habits of the student body at Iowa State University, with a focus on environmental knowledge and behaviors. Overall, we found that, regardless of demographic, students appear to be interested in environmental topics, reducing their footprint, and improving the environment overall. But, they did not necessarily want to pay more, nor did they fully embrace personal responsibility.

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Bridging the boundaries of science and art for business students: Integrating botany and artistic perspectives to teach environmental literacy

By Vikki L. Rodgers and Danielle Krcmar

Engaging students not majoring in science, sustainability or environmental studies in learning environmental literacy and shifting their attitudes and behavior toward nature often requires a multi-perspective approach and presents unique challenges. We sought to: (1) pair artistic perspectives with botanical concepts to educate and interest our students in learning environmental literacy, (2) engage our students in careful observation and visualization of nature, and (3) increase the environmental sensitivity of our students by connecting botany with nature based art. To do this we designed a pre-class assignment, an in-class botanical art workshop, and a written reflection assignment that asked students to view, conceptualize, and create works of botanical art as a multi-perspectival process of engaging with relevant scientific processes and environmental concerns connected to botany. Here we provide a justification for the value of bridging science with art, detail our approach, describe student survey responses and thoughtful written reflections, and illustrate lessons learned and future plans.

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Essential learning for sustainability: Gifford Pinchot’s lessons for educating leaders today

By Lizzie Summerfield and Sam Wells

Some scholars of leadership for sustainability argue that more research needs to be done on the ‘who’ of leaders, the core drivers of the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of their decisions and actions. This paper looks at a leading US figure in sustainability, Gifford Pinchot, who led the establishment of the US Forest Service, and who devoted much of his career to conserving the natural world for the good of his fellow citizens. It describes the formation of the ‘who’ of Pinchot as an adult leader through a focus on his early learning environment in order to point to some essential and timeless principles for the education of leaders of sustainability.

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The re-indigenization of humanity to Mother Earth: A learning platform to cultivate social-ecological resilience and challenge the Anthropocene

By Iain MacKinnon, Lewis Williams and Arianna Waller

Human beings today are living in times of unprecedented social and ecological crisis, a crisis that is to a significant degree of human making. The impending arrival of the Anthropocene geological epoch gives this crisis a name. As academics with a sense of responsibility for our relationships with planetary kin, the awareness of unfolding crisis calls on us to reach a deeper understanding of assumptions about the world, and of modes of living that these assumptions permit, which have been a human contribution to crisis. Furthermore, the Anthropocene calls us to act upon our new understanding. Taking modern European imperialism as a key generative force in the development of Anthropocene, we provocatively develop the idea in this article that the life-ways and worldviews of Indigenous Peoples colonized by European imperialism – including, potentially, marginalized and suppressed life-ways and worldviews of Indigenous Europeans – may hold critical insights by which to negotiate the Anthropocene and to challenge and change habits of thought and action that have led us to its threshold.

In doing so we outline the rationale behind the Alliance for Intergenerational Resilience (AIR) whose objective is to build social-ecological resilience by connecting and supporting locally based projects for the innovative and renovative co-evolution of social and ecological systems. AIR aims to generate inter-cultural relationships between Indigenous communities and communities no longer considered indigenous to place in order to support more meaningful, life-giving social and ecological relationships for all people. In order to further describe AIR’s objectives and its aspirations, the article draws on the Alliance’s inaugural event, the Elders’ Voices Summit, four days of Indigenous-led sustainability education with more than 100 international participants, representing community, university, government, philanthropy and not-for-profit sectors. We conclude by casting our hopes forward to envisage future re-indigenization work that supports the connection and reconnection of human beings with the Earth and the places of the Earth to which we belong.

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Hope and a hike: Cultivating nature connection and hope and setting the stage for action through a women’s walking group

By Catherine Dyer

This article focuses on ‘Hope and a Hike’ a women’s walking group in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The group uses an online Meetup to bring women together for weekly one-hour hikes which include information about a local positive conservation initiative (the hope component). It combines exercise, health gains, and social opportunity, with knowledge, positive local conservation success stories and experience in forested areas. The goal is to awaken a connection to the natural environment with hope and a desire to care and take action for the environment. Participants are women, mostly ages 35-70. This case example includes how the group relates to research on: benefits of walking in nature, awe, women, hope, connection to nature, pro-environmental actions and relational activism. Details about hope topics and ideas for expanding the hikes could be used in informal education as well as in course development.

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Changing the climate of beliefs: A conceptual model of learning design elements to promote climate change literacy

By Katrina Leona Marzetta

Climate change is a difficult subject to teach because it requires complex scientific understandings and is connected to personal beliefs (Spence, Poortinga & Pidgeon, 2012). It is important to teach students the science of climate change and impact their personal beliefs to produce behavior that will mitigate climate change. In this study pre and post surveys focusing on climate change understanding, belief, and behavior were administered. Interviews were also conducted. The quantitative and qualitative data were conflicting, but through triangulated data analysis learning design elements promoting Climate Change Literacy in higher education were identified. A conceptual model was developed with the learning design elements to improve the teaching of Climate Change Literacy. Findings depicted three design elements that increase students’ Climate Change Literacy: 1) Decreasing students’ psychological distance from climate change, 2) Utilizing students’ sense of place, and 3) Student investigation of their own research questions. Increasing students’ Climate Change Literacy is the critical first step in making sustainable societal transformations required for mitigating climate change, our most pressing environmental issue that impacts all people and the natural environment (Spence, Poortinga, & Pidgeon, 2012).

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