Archive: Higher Education

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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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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The Role of Place Attachment and Situated Sustainability Meaning-Making in Enhancing Student Civic-Mindedness: A Campus Farm Example

By Brandon H. Sorge, Francesca A. Williamson, Grant A. Fore and Julia L. Angstmann

Abstract:  This research explores the role that place attachment and place meaning towards an urban farm play in predicting undergraduate students’ civic-mindedness, an important factor in sustainability and social change.  In 2017 and 2018, three STEM courses at a private university in the Midwest incorporated a local urban farm as a physical and conceptual context for teaching course content and sustainability concepts. Each course included a four to six-week long place-based experiential learning (PBEL) module aimed at enhancing undergraduate STEM student learning outcomes, particularly place attachment, situated sustainability meaning-making (SSMM), and civic-mindedness. End-of-course place attachment, SSMM, and civic-mindedness survey data were collected from students involved in these courses and combined with institutionally provided demographic information. Place attachment and SSMM surveys, along with the course in which the students participated, were statistically significant predictors of students’ civic-mindedness score.

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Does transmissive sustainability education encourage behavior change? A case study of a university course on food systems 

By Julia Silver

Abstract: Industrial forms of food production and consumption are tied to environmental and socio-economic crises like climate change and social injustice. Changes in consumer behavior provide a lever to initiate transformations toward a more sustainable food system. One vehicle that is widely recognized as having the ability to encourage behavior change at large is education. Sustainability education has become increasingly popular over the past two decades, often being studied in innovative teaching-learning formats which employ transformative pedagogies that aim to foster critical consciousness through deep listening, dialogue, action, and reflection of students. However, classical teaching formats that employ more transmissive pedagogies, focused on delivery and mastery of content, have been comparatively little researched in the field of sustainability with regard to how they impact student behavior. Thus, this research aims to study if transmissive sustainability education can encourage university students to consume food more sustainably. To accomplish this, a case study with 12 undergraduate students in a food sustainability course was conducted. Mixed-methods data collection and analysis techniques, such as questionnaires and interviews, were utilized in order to track participants’ self-reported food consumption behaviors before, during, and after the course. Results suggest agreement among participants about the importance of course contents, but show no significant changes in their food consumption behaviors. The findings of this empirical study support the conclusion that imparting sustainability knowledge alone is insufficient to trigger behavior change.

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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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Sustainable Adventure? The Necessary “Transitioning” of Outdoor Adventure Education

By Paul Stonehouse

Abstract: I was slow in coming to see the desperate need of sustainability education, in part because of a missed opportunity in my field of outdoor adventure education (OAE). Although a burgeoning set of scholars agree that OAE is strategically placed to educate for sustainability, little change within our discipline has occurred. To encourage the transition, this paper has four central aims. First, I contextualize the implications at stake by summarizing recent scientific predictions around climate change. Second, I differentiate sustainable OAE into the sustainability of OAE (e.g., its practices, footprint size, etc.) and OAE for sustainability (e.g., curricula that promotes education about sustainability), noting that despite long-standing petitions to address both, progress has been made in neither. Third, I celebrate, with others, the inherent potential that OAE has to promote sustainability through its educating in natural environs, within living/learning communities, which utilize physical/sensory, affective and intellectual ways of knowing that inspire critical impulses. Fourth, I outline the central changes that need to occur in order to create sustainable OAE. The foremost change needed is for OAE programs to curricularly commit to promoting a sustainability worldview, including values, knowledge, dispositions, and agency related to environmental, social, and economic justice. However, change of this depth will require a revision of OAE course offerings that allow for multiple and prolonged participant engagement over time. Such engagement, then, necessitates that OAE shift its emphasis from remote and sublime landscapes, to programs that not only connect participants to the places in which they reside, but cultivate a care and affection for them. This appreciation can be created through a combination of adventurous learning and microadventures. In sum, “local landscapes, far more often, as a way of life” encapsulate the changes OAE might make in contribution to the global need of sustainability.

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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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Climate Change Vulnerability, Water, and Extreme Weather: Perspectives from Graduate Environment Students

By Kristy Franks and Travis Moore

Abstract: The experience and impacts of climate change are uneven across generations, income classes, cultural groups, and geographical locations. Efforts to document and understand such experiences and related perspectives are increasing. Particularly among student groups, there is much attention on understanding how children and teenagers perceive climate change. However, until now, such perspectives of graduate students have not been represented in the literature. We, thus, surveyed and spoke with graduate students from a Geography, Planning and Environment Program at Concordia University in Montreal / Tiohtià:ke, Quebec, Canada. As a sample of next-generation decision makers, they shared fears, concerns, and recommendations consisting of both bio-physical and socio-political scientific dimensions. They expressed interdisciplinary perspectives related to climate change vulnerability, mitigation, and adaptation as they relate to water and extreme weather. Their fears included uncertainties pertaining to climate and human behaviors, and the possibility of surpassing global carrying capacities that could result in irreversible and lethal disasters. Considerations involved recognizing the vulnerability of the climate system and of humans, with a focus on socio-political injustices. Students placed a strong focus on emerging opportunities, such as fostering community development and investing in innovative technologies. They recommended power shifts, through paradigm awareness and reformed policies, where currently vulnerable populations access more decision-making power. They suggested fostering interdisciplinary and international cooperation to integrate climate science, involving age-appropriate modelling programs, into school curricula, and learning about human positionality and from resilient populations. We consider wicked problems, psychological distancing, and climate literacy as influential concerns in shaping climate change contexts and literacy. Our methodology allowed research participants to guide the study’s questions and foci with the use of a survey, collectively-generated word collages, and a focus group. The activities prompted space for the group to practice roleplaying as decision makers. As gentle form of Participatory Action Research, the methods could guide other groups to reflect upon and document their perspectives. 

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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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The Power Game: Developing Influence and Negotiation Skills for Sustainable Development

By Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Mortimer, Jerry Abrams and David Robertson

Abstract: This paper describes the outcomes of a game designed to teach advanced leadership skills, specifically influence and negotiation strategies, to current and aspiring sustainability professionals at Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability. In the game, students assume the role of a key stakeholder and practice principle-based negotiation, conflict management, consensus building, and related influence skills needed by professionals working on complex sustainable development challenges such as the transboundary resource issues
regarding hydropower and watershed management. We collected pre- and post- survey data to assess the effectiveness of the simulation in developing students’ negotiation and influence skills. Results suggest that the training helps students develop confidence in using influence and negotiation skills and feel more competent and better prepared to serve as leaders in the field.

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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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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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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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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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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 Overview: Ecomedia Literacy Special Issue

By Antonio Lopez, Jeff Share, Theresa Redmond and Clare Hintz

Link to the Ecomedia Literacy Table of Contents Lopez et al. Editorial Overview JSE April 2020 Ecomedia Literacy PDF Forward from JSE Editor-in-Chief, Clare Hintz: The Journal of Sustainability Education marks its tenth anniversary year with an issue on Water Literacy (published in March) and this issue, Ecomedia Literacy.  From a dream of several Ph.D. […]

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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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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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Engaging with Things: Speculative Realism and Ecomedia Literacy Education

By Benjamin Thevenin

Abstract: In recent years, media scholars and educators have made an effort to address ecological issues in their work. Ecomedia literacy adapts the principles and practices of the media literacy movement in order to prepare the public to critically engage with the relationship between media and the environment. However, this article argues that the philosophical frameworks, on which existing approaches to media literacy education are founded, are limited. The field’s reliance on traditions of constructivism and cultural studies allows learners to engage with ideas, but not things. The article argues that an ecomedia literacy that draws from speculative realism—in particular, in recognizing the reality of non-human things, emphasizing materiality, and challenging the nature/culture divide—will more effectively prepare the public to critically engage and practically respond to pressing ecological issues such as climate change.

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Strategies and Tactics for Interdisciplinary Experiential Environmental Education and Digital Media Production

By Andy Opel

This essay describes a series of interdisciplinary projects addressing environmental issues in Florida where faculty and students from different departments collaborate on complex problems and produce multimedia work aimed at reaching a public audience. Through a series of brief case studies, a model of interdisciplinary experiential education emerges, providing a pathway forward for other faculty to create community engaged projects that have real world impacts.

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Blooming in the Doom and Gloom: Bringing Regenerative Pedagogy to the Rebellion

By Tema Milstein

Transformative sustainable pedagogy and public intellectual work share the same aims and guideposts, including upholding higher education’s foundational intentions of fostering moral character in tomorrow’s leaders. Radical modes of sustainable education, including regenerative pedagogy, which tends to the global shift to restore, respect, and regenerate ecological and societal balance, and inside-out pedagogy, which helps learners take their inner seeds, sprouts, and blossoms of good ecocultural intentions to stages of external fruition, speak both to educating learners and engaging the public. If pedagogues aim to encourage students to put beliefs into action and be leading voices in ethically addressing today’s pressing environment and society problems, this may require role modeling by having the courage to do so themselves. In these contexts, the author relates her own experiences speaking for Extinction Rebellion as an illustration of expanding notions of what it means to be a sustainability educator today.

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“Educating for Water Resilience in the Context of Climate Crisis”—Journal of Sustainability Education Special Issue Released for United Nations World Water Day 2020

By Amanda Bielawski

This editorial overview provides an introduction to this special Journal of Sustainability (JSE) issue devoted to water and climate change, which is being released during United Nations World Water Day 2020. The article contextualizes some of the water security risks that are exacerbated by climate change, such as increasing floods and droughts. This piece further provides a brief overview of the articles in the special water and climate issue of the JSE.

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Dissecting the Average Shower and Its Impact on the Planet: An Invitation to Collaborate — Part Two: The Recirculating-Shower Design Elements

By Linda Pope

Abstract: Part Two of a two-article series describes water conservation through graywater use and rainwater harvesting. Sustainable methods of heating water for a recirculating shower, and potential methods for water filtration and purification are presented. Also addressed is the feasibility of sustainable showering alternatives. An opportunity for educators and students to collaborate in the development of an off-grid recirculating shower is provided as well.

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Dissecting the Average Shower and Its Impact on the Planet: An Invitation to Collaborate — Part One: Human Water Usage and Global Impact

By Linda Pope

Abstract: Part One of a two-part article outlines a brief history of showering and questions current showering practices. Current global levels of water use and availability are discussed, plus water use in the United States, relative to Americans’ frequency of showering. The energy requirements for cities to provide clean water is outlined as well as the carbon dioxide emissions that are subsequently released during water delivery and wastewater disposal. In Part Two, water conservation through graywater use and rainwater harvesting is described, and sustainable methods of heating water are offered. Possible methods for water filtration and purification are presented. The feasibility of alternatives for a more sustainable shower is addressed. Both articles conclude with an invitation to students and instructors to collaborate with the author to construct a prototype of an off-grid recirculating shower.

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Using sustainability education to enhance a sense of belonging and community among first-year college students

By Robin A. Lewis, Brandon B. Barile, Thomas E. Drennan and Robert Beutner

Abstract
On campuses across the world, faculty, staff, and administrators continue to wrestle with how best to foster a stronger sense of belonging and community among first-year college students. Research in the field of education for sustainability (EfS) suggests that utilizing a cohort-based approach to sustainability education can lead to a number of positive outcomes for participating students and the broader campus culture. Meanwhile, student affairs research demonstrates the value of living/learning communities (LLCs) in supporting undergraduate students as they transition to college. This paper showcases the experience of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in implementing a sustainability-themed LLC on its campus, highlighting how one institution is utilizing sustainability education to build community among first-year college students.

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O Grows, Community-Based Food Systems, and the Sustainability Compass

By Sean A. Forbes and Carey E. Andrzejewski

Abstract: This program feature documents our reflections on how the work of O Grows, is, or more accurately has become, increasingly sustainability-oriented. O Grows is a non-profit, community-university partnership with the mission to leverage the local capacity in service of community food needs. Specifically, we focus here on how engagement with an increasing number of sectors of the local food system, as we work toward this mission, has demonstrated a commensurate increase in alignment with the cardinal directions of the sustainability compass—attention to Nature, Society, Economy, and Wellbeing. We have realized, as O Grows has evolved, that keeping the program going and attending to sustainability are one and the same. As such, we argue the sustainability compass is a useful heuristic not only for reflection after-the-fact but also for partnership planning.

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Sustainability Education Case Studies: Developing a Sustainable Design Culture in Chinese Higher Education

By Lam Yan Yan and Duan Sheng Feng

Sustainable development and creative thinking have become central aspects of Higher Education in today’s multidisciplinary world. With the balance between learning and teaching priorities in mind, the Design Academy, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and School of Design, Jiangnan University incorporated the author’s newly evolved teaching methodology — 3Ac: ‘Acknowledgment, Action and Accountability’ model of sustainable development and creativity — into its taught programs at all levels. The 3Ac model is a formative learning method for building the capabilities of individuals to create changes toward sustainable development.  This paper first defines the 3Ac design methodology (Acknowledgment, Action, and Accountability) in the context of sustainable development and education: Acknowledgment is the appreciation and recognition of the importance of sustainable development in the face of global challenges, with a particular focus on team effort, co-design and sharing findings and practices.  Action is the establishment of design strategy and action plans that consider not only the importance of intentions, goals, affordable and reachable resources but also a clear road map for achieving maximum efficiency when tackling the most challenging tasks.  Accountability deals with a growing understanding of the benefits of working together to tackle global challenges such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices. The framework aims to develop students’ capabilities through case studies of undergraduate, graduate and continuing professional development of young designers. Based on evidence from the feedback and evaluation of action research, the research team plans to further refine the 3Ac design teaching methodology and create a model that can be implemented and scaled effectively with collaborative partners from the community, business and local government.

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Benefits of “Flip” Teaching Techniques in the Environmental Planning and Sustainability Classroom

By Stephen Buckman, K. David Pijawka, Matthew Gomez, Jonathan Davis, Adenike Opejin and Yousuf Mahid

Breaking though to millennials in the classroom is becoming an important objective for all educators. These students demand more from their learning experiences and many traditional education techniques are often ineffective. One technique that holds potential is “Flip” education, a unique active learning approach. Although Flip is normally associated with the hard sciences, this paper presents a case study that demonstrates its effectiveness in the social sciences, specifically an upper division undergraduate environmental/sustainability planning class. Two important takeaways from this study include: 1) that teaching must be more student-centered, allowing students to take more control of their own education as assigned material be available before the fixed class time so as to allow class time for more active learning; and 2) Students report improved learning when Flip experiential methods are used in conjunction with some form of standard professor lectures. 

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Sulitest®: A Mixed-Method, Pilot Study of Assessment Impacts on Undergraduate Sustainability-related Learning and Motivation

By Alicia M. Mason

Abstract: A United Nations international collaboration between the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) resulted in the creation of Sulitest® (aka Sustainability Literacy Test) an open, online training and assessment tool freely available to higher education institutions globally. This study analyzes the effectiveness of the newly developed Sulitest® to not only measure sustainability literacy of higher education student populations, but also act as a catalyst for boosting affective learning outcomes by: (a) generating interest in sustainability-related issues, (b) improving sustainability-related understandings, and (c) enhancing students’ interests in the subject matter. In order to do so we present a two-phase, exploratory mixed-method pilot study. Preliminary results from this pilot study reveal Sulitest is a useful tool for not only assessing sustainability literacy but also spurring student interests and motivations in sustainability-related subject matters. Findings, discussion and limitations are provided.

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Taking Sustainability Personally: The Impact of Teaching Sustainability Agency on Learning

By Lisa Papania

Abstract: Students are transformed when they realize that their theory-based actions have real and meaningful impact. Student learning outcomes are enhanced when they realize this impact. This is important, because the topic of sustainability involves a huge amount of grim data about the state of the planet and our impending demise; and an urgent call for action to make positive impact. To enable my MBA students to take action, I designed an experiential, action-research and transformational pedagogical approach; and a mixed-methods study to assess if/ how students engaged with, and learned or cared about sustainability when it was delivered at the level of personal impact and personal action. I found that making sustainability personal did not cause alienation, but did significantly contribute to learning and caring in all students in the course. However, students’ comfort with uncertainty moderated their perceptions of learning, which provides insight for how to improve the course in the future.

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The Development of Citizen Educators at a Remote Graduate Science Education Program

By Cliff Harbour

Abstract: This paper describes and explains findings from an exploratory, interpretative qualitative case study that examined how a residential graduate program in science education, based in a wilderness area, supported the development of citizen educators. Data collection over a three-year period included 16 in-depth interviews with administrators, faculty, and graduate students; observations of class activities and campus community meetings; and document analysis of curriculum materials. Analysis of the data revealed how the culture of the campus community encouraged students to become citizen educators.

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A Pedagogical Framework for the Design and Utilization of Place-Based Experiential Learning Curriculum on a Campus Farm

By Julia L. Angstmann, Amber J. Rollings, Grant A. Fore and Brandon H. Sorge

Abstract: Campus agriculture projects are increasingly being recognized as spaces impactful to student engagement and learning through curricular and co-curricular programming; however, most campus farm activities are limited to agriculture or sustainability programs and/or co-curricular student clubs. Thus, campus farms are largely underutilized in the undergraduate curriculum, marking a need to explore the efficacy and impact of engaging a diverse array of disciplinary courses in the rich social, environmental, and civic context of local sustainable agriculture. The Farm Hub program presented here incentivizes instructors to refocus a portion of existing course content around the topic of local, sustainable agriculture, and reduces barriers to using a campus farm as a situated learning context for curricula. A pedagogical framework founded in place-based experiential learning (PBEL) theory was developed to guide instructors in the development and implementation of 4–6-week inquiry-based PBEL modules embedded in existing courses. The framework was converted into a research protocol to quantify program implementation fidelity and PBEL best practice adherence for the proposed lesson plans (intended) and their implementation (applied). The framework enables the development of a cohesive cross-curricular program so that the impact of implementation fidelity and best practice adherence to student learning outcomes in scientific literacy, place attachment and meaning, and civic mindedness can be assessed and the results utilized to develop a formal farm-situated PBEL pedagogical taxonomy. This framework can be applied to PBEL curriculum in natural spaces beyond campus farms.

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Interacting Pedagogies: A Review and Framework for Sustainability Education

By Jason Papenfuss, Eileen Merritt, David Manuel-Navarrete, Scott Cloutier and Bonnie Eckard

Abstract: Although the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014) was a period of rapid pedagogical revitalization and innovation, much sustainability education today is still delivered using transmissive and instrumental pedagogies common across higher education. Now that the field has integrated many of the insights from the decade, students and facilitators should continue innovating along themes consistent with the goals of sustainability: transformation and emancipation. Yet, more clarity is needed about pedagogical approaches that will transform and emancipate students, allowing them to become innovators that change existing structures and systems. This paper presents a framework combining four interacting (i.e., complementary) pedagogies (transmissive, transformative, instrumental, and emancipatory) in sustainability education, helping to reify pedagogical concepts, rebel against outdated curricula, and orient facilitators/learners on their journey toward transformative and emancipatory learning. The authors begin by reviewing the evolution of sustainability education and transformative learning theory prior to introducing the framework. The paper concludes with a vision of sustainability education that incorporates contemplative pedagogies as essential methods in a field in need of cultivating hope, resilience, and emergence.

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Media Strategies Impacting Millennials’ Sustainable Apparel Purchase Intention

By Lauren (Reiter) Copeland

Abstract: With apparel and textile production finding itself a leader in social and environmental responsibility issues, the call to action to influence purchase intention for sustainable and responsible apparel is necessary to both the environment and humankind. Literature supports the connection between consumer knowledge of social issues within the apparel and textile industry and purchase behavior. Cowan and Kinley (2014) identify attitudes as the strongest predictor for purchasing environmentally sustainable apparel. This study looks at the interjection of a type of popular and accepted medium, film, as a possible catalyst to knowledge and attitude change in millennial consumers regarding responsible apparel. This is an exploratory quantitative research study to explore possible future directions of how to impact sustainable purchase intentions of millennials in a consumer driven society. A total of 128 participants from a large Midwest university took part in the study during spring and fall 2016. This study found that millennial consumers had significant change in their purchasing behavior regarding responsible apparel. They also considered themselves more knowledgeable regarding the topic. However, their change in attitudes was not towards being more concerned with what was happening in the industry nor their willingness to sacrifice price and style for responsible apparel.

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“Writing makes it easier to relate to the Environment” – The Valuable Role of the Composition Classroom in our Threatened Environment

By Yasmin Rioux

Abstract: The author examines the role and influence of a place-based Environmental Literature and Writing class on her undergraduate students’ perception of their personal position within their immediate and extended environments. Further, the author aims at gaining a better understanding of what course elements the students found particularly valuable and effective in the realization of their agency within our environmental context, and what role writing played in the students’ reflections and examinations of the complex relationships between self, nature, and matters pertaining to sustainability and the future of our natural habitats. By assessing student writing, collecting questionnaires, and conducting open-question interviews, the author explores her students’ impressions and experiences of navigating global and local environmental issues through a Humanities-based course.

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Creative Social Stewardship, Artistic Engagement, and the Environment

By Cara Hagan and Theresa Redmond

Abstract: This article describes an innovative, grant-funded symposium for creative social stewardship that sought to blend the triad of art, education, and the natural environment through a focus on socio-cultural sustainability and community engagement. The purpose of this article is to share foundational information related to the origins of the symposium, describe the tenants of community arts initiatives, feature a session snapshot, and discuss the value of creative social stewardship as a part of daily practice. We conclude by making recommendations for future endeavors in cultivating creative social stewardship conferences or initiatives, ultimately promoting the idea that collaborative, community-based and arts-focused events might inspire reflection on connection, nature, and creativity in ways that nurture sustainability.

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Using Sustainability as a Framework for Marketing Curricula and Pedagogy

By Shikha Upadhyaya, Mine Üçok Hughes and H. Rika Houston

Abstract: As noted by a growing number of marketing scholars, the importance of educating marketing students on sustainability should be an important objective for marketing educators and business schools alike. The focus of sustainability-based marketing education is on the greater good of the environment and society, while adjusting internal and related external processes to sustainability principles. In this conceptual paper, we adopt a broadened definition of sustainability distinct from the narrow understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) adopted by the business world in general and make recommendations for using this broadened definition to reframe marketing curricula and pedagogy. We give specific examples of assignments and pedagogical approaches for four core marketing courses as well as four marketing electives. By doing so, we hope to foster a new marketing mindset and a new generation of marketing practitioners who embrace, internalize, and practice sustainability holistically.

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A Research Coordination Network’s Impact on Sustainability Open Education

By Hong Xu

Abstract: The research coordination network (RCN) – Climate, Energy, Environment and Engagement in Semiarid Regions (CE3SAR) is a NSF funded five-year project (2012 to 2016, extend to 2017). One goal of the RCN CE3SAR project is to enhance sustainability education in South Texas. To achieve this goal, the RCN CE3SAR steering committee adopted two strategies: creating learning objects and supporting open education. This article reports the process and methods of creating and publishing RCN CE3SAR sustainability learning objects as open education resources.

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Teaching Sustainability: Recommendations for Best Pedagogical Practices

By Heather Burns, Sybil S. Kelley and Heather Spalding

Although sustainability has become an important focus in higher education, there is a need for understanding how sustainability competencies can be cultivated in college and university courses and programs. This article argues that learners who are to become capable of affecting holistic sustainable change, transforming values and culture, healing the earth and human communities, and designing creative solutions, must have the opportunity to engage in learning processes that reflect these learning outcomes. We outline key elements of sustainability pedagogy and suggest best pedagogical practices for designing engaging and holistic sustainability learning.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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