Archive: Report

Kita Castro

Bridges of Collaboration and Exchange

By Kim Kita and Aines Castro Prieto

Imagine a world where people hold the highest standards for collaboration, understanding, and mutual respect. Imagine a world where people are engaged and hold a deep commitment to creating genuine, just, and mutually-empowering beneficial relationships. Imagine a world where people have the ability to connect across cultures, appreciate, and deeply listen to different perspectives, understand complex systems – and how we all fit into them – and together co-create solutions to the most daunting of global challenges. Imagine a community of people bringing forward energy and a sense of possibility, and stepping up to create the world we want to live in.

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Preparing the Future Sustainable Energy Workforce and The Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education

By Kenneth A. Walz and Joel B. Shoemaker

Abstract: When examining energy consumption in human history, it is evident that society is entering a new era where the costs of energy generation from renewable sources are now competitive with fossil fuel generation. In light of this advance, this report examines recent milestones in the renewable energy sector, and projects what the near future might hold. In the years ahead, growth in the renewable industry will create increased demand for a trained workforce of scientists, engineers, and technicians with knowledge of renewable energy. Faculty development and educational programs will play a key role in preparing the next generation of renewable energy professionals. This report highlights the impact of one such initiative that was funded by the National Science Foundation. Educators are called to join the effort to create a sustainable future powered by renewable energy.

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Encouraging Revolving Door Usage in a Mixed-Use Building: The Influence of Visual Prompts and Descriptive Social Norms

By Jeffrey Louis Perrin and Perrin Dumar

Abstract: This field experiment investigated effects of a descriptive norms-based sign combined with five footprint sticker decal prompts directing individuals to help save energy by using a revolving door, as opposed to a swing door, to exit a mixed-use building. We found that the percentage of individuals using the revolving door increased in both conditions (weekday and weekend day) after we implemented the sign and decals. Notable considerations in creating descriptive norms-based signage to encourage environmentally responsible behavior in mixed use buildings are discussed.

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Increasing a Sense of Place Using Blended Online and On Site Learning

By Tina L. Salata

Abstract: Finding time for place-based instruction can be difficult using a traditional ground classroom or online format. This is a case study report showing how blending the two modalities can increase opportunities to go more in depth on environmental topics. This blending of both classroom and online creates a sense of place and encourages teaching with multiple learning styles. The increased classroom flexibility allows more individualized instruction for student’s needs and interests. This report will share how an environmental biology class implemented a blended learning class over two semesters. Results of this pilot show an increased student effort by allowing for more varied learning about the local environment.

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Learning through place: Evaluation of a professional development program for understanding the impact of place-based education and teacher continuing education needs

By Katherine Linnemanstons and Catherine Jordan

We report an evaluation of a place-based education (PBE) teacher professional development program that aimed to understand the perceived impact of PBE on students and teachers, constraints to implementation of PBE in schools, and strengths and limitations of the professional development program, as identified by teachers. Nine teachers, the full 2014 cohort of participants in Wilderness Inquiry’s PBE professional development program, completed a written reflection exercise and were interviewed following the implementation of a PBE lesson or unit developed as part of their professional development program. Findings indicate that teachers perceived PBE to have several important impacts on students, including stronger engagement in learning, enhanced collaboration, and heightened significance for the concepts learned. Teachers also perceived impact on themselves, including professional growth, sense of fulfillment and an expanded repertoire of teaching approaches. However, there were perceived constraints to implementing PBE, including support from peers and administrators, time, money, weather, and the composition of the class. This research adds to a growing body of research reporting positive impacts of PBE. Teachers’ feedback on the professional development program highlighted specific aspects of an effective professional development program. An enhanced understanding of the benefits of and challenges to PBE and program characteristics that maximize teachers’ time at a professional development program will help educators and curriculum developers to better support, develop, and encourage the implementation of PBE in standardized curriculum.

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Creating a research to classroom pipeline: closing the gap between science research and educators

By Jennifer Schon, Karla Bradley Eitel, Justin Hougham and Danica Hendrickson

As scientific research evolves information in (K-12) curriculum can quickly become outdated. New research can greatly change the way we teach about science topics and the content we want students to understand. Educators, both formal and informal, can enrich their science curriculum by pulling from current research. Navigating the complexities and unanswered questions alongside scientists can provide a platform for discussion and insight into the nature of science and research that many students are not aware of, providing both a unique experience and valuable lesson on problem solving. Using lessons recently created in tandem with current aviation biofuels project, this article demonstrates the steps educators can take to use ongoing research to create lessons for their own audiences. As often noted in media and current events, finding a reliable, abundant, and sustainable source of transportation fuel is a high priority. One current research effort is being led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture–funded Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), which combines research efforts from industry and educational institutions to build a renewable supply chain for aviation biofuel. This article highlights steps suggested for educators to break down current research to create lessons for their audiences through an explanation of lessons that were developed using NARA research as a foundation. These steps include: Define the theme, Provide the background, Break down the parts, and Draw the parallels.

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From the forest to the classroom: Energy literacy as a co-product of biofuels research

By Justin Hougham, Steve Hollenhorst, Jennifer Schon, Karla Bradley Eitel, Danica Hendrickson, Chad Gotch, Tammi Laninga, Laurel James, Blake Hough, Dan Schwartz, Shelley Preslley, Karl Olsen, Liv Haselbach, Quinn Langfitt and Jennifer Moslemi

The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) is a biofuel research project that includes a holistic educational approach to energy literacy. NARA research is focused on woody biomass as a feedstock for biofuels and associated co-products, particularly in the forested areas of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Extending beyond the science of biofuels, the NARA project examines many social elements of our energy economy, including education. Projects that can combine research and connections to educational venues provide excellent opportunities to expand the impact of grant funded proposals. Keys to making this possible include coordination across disciplines, interpretation of research results, and research processes in the field coupled with investment into integrated educational strategies within the project. This paper outlines elements of the NARA approach to energy literacy, offering strategies for approaches to broader impacts in projects beyond the energy sector.

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Sustainability Education: What’s Politics got to do with it?

By David Meek

This article explores the relation between politics and sustainability education. It draws upon a political ecology of education perspective to analyze how political and economic processes shape the curricular content of sustainability education, environmental behaviors, and processes of ecological change in Brazil. Examples from research on agroecological education within the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) highlight how national level public policies and economic incentives intersect with the MST’s political ideology to influence the creation of sustainability education programs, development of curricular content, and advocacy around land management practices. Scholars, educators, administrators, and community activists are encouraged to draw upon the political ecology of education perspective in negotiating the political nature of sustainability education.

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Comparing Faculty and Student Sustainability Literacy: Are We Fit to Lead?

By Carl Obermiller and April Atwood

Full PDF:  Obermille & Atwood JSE Vol 7 Dec 2014  Abstract: The importance of teaching sustainability literacy is readily accepted, but relatively little attention has been paid to the adequacy or preparation of faculty to accomplish this task.  At Seattle University, samples of incoming students, staff and faculty completed SUSTLIT, a survey of sustainability literacy.  […]

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Reclaiming Progress by Limiting Economic Growth

By Christopher Haines

The idea of progress was developed during the French Enlightenment as an optimistic belief in human potential encompassing intellectual, physical and spiritual health within an enlightened society working to maximize happiness. Progress became equated to and then supplanted by economic growth, assumed to be the means to that progress. We are now suffering from that assumption. It is time to acknowledge the limitations, the failings and the costs of economic growth as a means to bettering society. We need to take the opportunity, thrust upon us by environmental impacts to de-throne growth in order to reclaim human potential for social progress, increase happiness and maybe even save the planet.

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Graduation Rates of Students Participating on Hurricane Relief Team

By Eric Lassahn

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

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We Teach How We’ve Been Taught: Expeditionary Learning Unshackling Sustainability Education in U.S. Public Schools

By Stephanie Owens

Millions of youth in the United States today are mandated to go to “work” daily. Indoor spaces, hard, plastic seats, and inauthentic menial tasks characterize their workplace. In a time in which the life support systems of our planet are imperiled and more humans are living in communities of poverty and violence, there exists an absurd disconnect between how education is currently practiced and the education that is needed to facilitate deep cultural revolution. Our teachers are taught to teach using the same irrelevant pedagogies, sitting in rows inside institutions of higher learning, taking notes, and memorizing disconnected facts for regurgitation on multiple-choice exams. My argument is that we are not going to be able to implement any true attempts in sustainability education without concomitant change in the way we teach teachers. While publicly funded schools still provide an equalizing agent to potentially provide opportunity for all children regardless of their race or social class, no school can truly educate children to meet the coming demands of our time without experiential teacher education. Expeditionary Learning, a national reform model for public schools, creates lasting change in the praxis of teaching by creating opportunities for teachers to learn in a different way than they have often been taught as students themselves. With continued coaching when they return to their classrooms, teachers are able to create learning environments embodying inquiry and authenticity so that our youth are empowered to affect societal change.

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Sustainability Stew: A Recipe for Problem Framing and Discussion

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

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

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Sustainability capstones: Data-driven, policy-relevant projects to enhance learning

By Elizabeth Shay

Sustainability capstones at UNC-Chapel Hill use the environmental capstone model—senior team projects for clients—to tackle problems with clear social and economic dimensions in addition to environmental. As one of a set of applied-learning course options in sustainability education, capstones draw students into data-driven and policy-relevant research and development, and generate useful products for campus and community clients.

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

By Jeff Glover

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

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Re-engaging Youth through Environmental-based Education for Sustainable Development

By Justin Umholtz

To live up to UNESCO’s definition of a sustainable development education that empowers youth with the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, commitments, and skills to solve and prevent the world’s total environmental problems, youth must be able to find meaning in the curriculum based in their own experiences and expanded through shared group experiences. An environmental-based experiential curriculum with a positive development focus can help youth reclaim their learning process and reconnect with their communities. However, without critical analysis, students, especially marginalized students, cannot develop the tools and competencies to truly understand their environment and their place within it. Linking environmental and experiential education with critical theory provides students the opportunity to develop their leadership and gain the social and cultural literacy skills needed to come in from the margins.

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Curriculum as Bioregional Text: Place, Experience, and Sustainability

By Nathan Hensley

In this article I articulate what it means to understand curriculum as bioregional text. I utilize a theoretical mode of inquiry to explicate the values of bioregional education while integrating the discussion into the reconceptualized field of Curriculum Studies. The discussion addresses the value of direct experience, in our bioregion, and explains the significant contribution that can be drawn from developing a clearer understanding of our bioregional autobiography.

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Integrating Sustainability Curriculum into Construction Education: A Progress Report

By James Sullivan and Russell Walters

As sustainable construction continues to increase its market share in the commercial construction realm there is continued discussion regarding providing adequate exposure to sustainable practices in the undergraduate curriculum. Sustainable construction, specifically United States Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Engineering, places an emphasis on design integration, professional and industry education, and market transformation – both in products and installation techniques. The question at hand is how to prepare construction and engineering students for what is quickly becoming the norm for construction in the United States. Previous research has discussed integration of curriculum and has found there are no existing standards in place. This study finds that when sustainability is viewed as integral to high performance design and delivery that course development is more a function of integration than revision. This paper reviews the progress made since 1998 to present in undergraduate integrated and supplemented education courses in a prominent four year construction program. The question of accreditation requirements and initial career offerings are also discussed. Integrating sustainability into the curriculum is perceived to enhance the students’ learning and provide a superior experience.

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Experiencing Sustainability: Thinking Deeper About Experiential Education in Higher Education

By Jay Roberts

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

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If it please the court: Using a simulated trial as the basis for an introduction to sustainability science course

By N.J. Smith-Sebasto

This report describes a unique technique for presenting an introduction to sustainability science course that is both required for sustainability science majors at a large Mid-Atlantic state university and a general education non-laboratory science course. The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in the late 1990s, serves and an indictment of humanity. The course mimics a trial as it proceeds from the indictment through an arraignment, pre-trial, trial, verdict, and sentencing with students acting both as the accused and the jury.

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Boyer Plus: Field Study Courses for Sustainable Education

By Daniel Moscovici

The field study (or short-term study abroad) creates a successful hybrid of study abroad and field research. These short-term educational adventures (edu-ventures) give environmental or sustainability students opportunities to gain practical knowledge while traveling domestically or overseas. In addition, it presents the opportunity for both faculty and students to extend the traditional Boyer model of scholarship, a reputable professoriate model, by developing continuity. The field study fulfills the four pedagogical goals of the Boyer model: creating research opportunities (discovery); breaking down the silos of traditional academic departments (integration); acting as consultants on-site (application); and educating students beyond the faculty members’ expertise (teaching). In addition, these field studies fulfill a fifth goal: building relationships and transgressing time (continuity). The development of this Boyer Plus model from a field-study experience serves as a tremendous tool for colleges, universities and professors to build the opportunities and necessary pedagogical skills for both traditional and non-traditional students.

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Beekeeping as Experiential: The Ashland Apiary Project

By Ryan King

The Ashland Apiary Project is a multi-pronged, multi-aged learning design that uses beekeeping as a thematic avenue for hands-on experiential learning and the cultivation of land stewardship. The project is a student-led, collaborative effort by Southern Oregon University to establish an on-campus apiary that serves as a model of place-based and community-based education for a wide audience of students in an elementary, secondary, and collegiate setting. Through the Ashland Apiary Project, the pedagogic approach of “apiary-based learning” is considered in the field of sustainability education.

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The Accidental Sustainability Agent

By Mark Apel, Christopher Jones and Daniel McDonald

While a number of universities across the nation have sustainability education programs, land grant universities and their Cooperative Extension departments are in a particularly advantageous position to foster sustainability education. At the University of Arizona (UA), this is being accomplished through its Cooperative Extension cadre of education programs in agriculture; youth development; natural resources; horticulture; family, consumer and health sciences; and community and economic development. A working group within UA Cooperative Extension has been tasked with evaluating the reach of sustainability concepts while developing opportunities for its faculty to further integrate sustainability education into its programs, such as through student externships. Preliminary evaluation results indicate that Extension’s programs positively embody the concepts of sustainability without creating the need for new, deliberate programming around sustainability education.

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Storytelling and ecological management: understanding kinship and complexity

By Lela Brown

This paper explores examples of the ways that indigenous and traditional stories are tools to guide humans through complex interactions with ecosystems and to remember our shared fate with the land. Traditional stories are not mere superstition or poor substitutes for scientific thinking; they are made up of extremely complex, finely coded information on human subsistence and infused with elements that ensure they continue to be told and remembered

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CIDER: An Acronym for Understanding the Educational Possibilities for Bioregionalism

By Nathan Hensley

This article provides an overview of the primary themes embedded within bioregionalism. The framework for the paper is built around the CIDER acronym—compiled by the author—and includes: Connecting to our “life place,” inquiring into the interplay of cultural and ecological landscapes within the bioregion, decentralizing, emphasizing natural boundaries, reinhabiting as a culminating concept and practice. The CIDER acronym is then discussed in the context of applying bioregional thinking and practice to the broad field of education.

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Sustainability Education: Focusing on Hospitality, Tourism, and Travel

By Cynthia S. Deale

This article offers a brief summary of sustainability in general in the hospitality and tourism industry and introduces content information related to sustainability that may be helpful for use in hospitality and tourism education. Specifically, the paper focuses on the following question: What is the emphasis of sustainability education in the hospitality and tourism field? Themes in sustainability education in the lodging, meetings and events, and food and beverage sectors are identified, applications of sustainability practices in hospitality and tourism operations are introduced, and views about the future direction of sustainability education in this field are provided.

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Environmental education and eco-literacy as tools of education for sustainable development

By Steven Locke, Ricardo Russo and Carlos Montoya

The purpose of this paper is to propose environmental education and eco-literacy as components of education for sustainable development through the examination of an eco-literacy program offered by EARTH University in Costa Rica to rural community public schools. To illustrate these components we examine the development of a program/curriculum used in 17 elementary schools. We draw two important conclusions from our examination. First we found that external national political, social, and economic forces were important to the program’s success. Secondly we illustrate the importance of developing and programs that address the specific needs and issues of the local region.

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La renovación de la crítica al desarrollo y el buen vivir como alternativa

By Eduardo Gudynas and Alberto Acosta

Two intellectual powerhouses from South America, Gudynas and Acosta make the case for a new way of understanding human fulfillment, authentically Latin American in origin with indigenous roots—the idea of el Buen Vivir. We cannot translate their ideas “the good life” or “quality of life,” both thoroughly Western concepts, and we must hope that el Buen Vivir, with its entire notion of well living, fulfillment and plenitude in connection with other humans and the elements of the landscape becomes incorporated into a healthy and sustainable idea that replaces development. Gudynas and Acosta make the case that these ideas are emerging from their indigenous roots and have been a big part of the political, social and economic success of the “new left,” as evidenced by their foundational role in the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador.

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Future Climate Change in the Global South

By Kenneth Young

In this comprehensive review, Kenneth Young gives a robust and sweeping analysis of how global climate change might affect landscapes in the global South. His unique emphasis on including the human element, within both a current societal and historical-political framework—provides a hefty morsal of food for thought regarding the multiple and complex ways in which real cultural and natural landccapes will respond to global warming.

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A Note on Urban Sustainability-Education Nexus

By Reza Banai

Reza Banai makes a strong case for urban sustainability as the perfect area of practice to apply a broad range of effective pedagogies. The complex multi-disciplinary nature of urban design means that it requires advanced, high-level, analytical, holistic, hands-on pedagogies to bring about real solutions for sustainability. With urban popuplations booming worldwide, chances to apply Banai’s nexus between urban sustainability and a robust education abound.

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A New Agenda for Science Education

By Maceo Carrillo Martinet

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

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For the Child and the World – a language of connection in education for sustainability. Fertile minds seeking dirt.

By Linda Zibell

In this report from “down under,” Linda Zibell recounts the triumph of eco-centric language over a techno-centric approach to bringing sustainability into the Australian school curriculum. She brings deep insight into deconstructing the power of word choice and language patterns with real examples of how school-age kids might perceive and understand the words we use.

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Sponsoring the Journal of Sustainability Education

By Clare Hintz

Sponsoring the Journal of Sustainability Education The Journal of Sustainability Education is actively seeking partners, sponsors, and donors to collaborate on moving the field of sustainability education outward and deeper. The Journal is a premiere publication with dynamic content elements, a blend of peer reviewed and timely interviews and media pieces that draw over 11,000 unique visitors […]

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The Heart of Sustainability: Big Ideas from the field of Environmental Education and their Relationship to Sustainability Education or What’s love got to do with it?

By Donald J. Burgess and Tracie Johannessen

Two northwest naturalists offer a critical perspective on sustainability education by suggesting that, in order to inspire people enough to make changes in their perceptions and behaviors, sustainability education must embrace the central role of acquiring ecological knowledge through direct and shared experience in the natural world.

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The Role of the Architect in Sustainability Education

By Christopher Haines

In this thoughtful, and fundamentally practical, down-to-earth essay, Christopher Haines puts architects squarely on the front-lines of sustainability education. He shows us, with real applications based on thoughtful inter-disciplinary analysis, how the complexities an architect faces in designing a building extend their tentacles into every aspect of sustainability—from environment to economics to social and psychological considerations.

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Essential Ecoliteracy, or “earth smarts”: Defining and validating a pragmatic educational construct based on quality of life.

By Bryan H. Nichols

Bryan Nichols calls out to JSE readership to get involved in defining what essential ecoliteracy includes. His comprehensive, interactive methodology has worked from a literature search-and-survey analysis to create a mind-map of the domains and components of essential ecoliteracy. Readers can find out more here; then play with the mind-map online and send Nichols an online or print survey.

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Un Nuevo Concepto Dentro Del Derecho Ambiental: “Los Derechos de la Naturaleza”

By Carla Cardenas

Carla Cardenas brings a startlingly significant feature of the new Ecuadorian constitution to our attention—rights for nature—and provides a thought-provoking analysis of the legal implications. She makes a good case for these kinds of rights as a driving force for real change in our overall societal relationship—at its core based on legal constraints that take their roots in a country’s constitution—with nature.

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At Home in Prescott: Confluence of Streams in my Journey as an Interdisciplinary Sustainability Educator

By Pramod Parajuli

Pramod Prajuli takes down the ten streams of his life journey that brought him to Prescott Arizona and a life dedicated to sustainability education.

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From the Guest Editor

By Dan Garvey

Dear Readers, We hope that this first issue of the Journal of Sustainability Education (JSE) is the beginning of something that will last for decades to come. We believe that the human systems and institutions currently operating are often at odds with long term health of our planet. The social justice and environmental movements have […]

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