Archive: North America

The Teaching Bioshelter: A Missing Resource for Sustainability Education

By Scott Stokoe

Abstract:  The new educational revolution of Educating for Sustainability needs to be taught in a new, revolutionary teaching space; a teaching bioshelter. Drawing on the five ecological principles of the Center for Ecoliteracy, this new teaching space should reflect ecocentric design principles, rather than the previous anthropocentric industrial designs of our current school and college classrooms and campuses. A solar-powered, living classroom, a system of systems, such as a teaching bioshelter, opens new educational horizons by providing continuously available and hands-on learning environments not currently available to the Educating for Sustainability (EfS) curriculum. Fortunately, the architectural and technical design work for these kinds of spaces was pioneered nearly 50 years ago by numerous cutting-edge research groups, such as the New Alchemy Institute. It is suggested that these two ecological flows, of design and education, be joined to enhance and expand the mission of Educating for Sustainability.

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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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Student-designed greenhouse for sustainability competencies

By Ian Carbone, Kelly Boulton, Sarah Nathan and Bennett Gould

This case study describes a student-led campus sustainability initiative to design and implement a power-generating greenhouse at Allegheny College. The design of the greenhouse was carried out by students in collaboration with professionals in a variety of learning settings including research seminars, independent studies, paid internships, and senior thesis projects. By providing a detailed account of the student-driven design process and structuring the analysis around a framework of documented sustainability competencies, this paper identifies challenges and opportunities for utilizing living labs for sustainability education. Researchers observed that students who contributed to greenhouse development in multiple capacities developed several sustainable competencies. The project also demonstrates the difficulty of engaging students in both the planning and implementation stages of multi-year efforts. While the student-led design process introduced new logistical challenges, deep levels of student commitment and unique student backgrounds were critical to the greenhouse project’s success.

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Hacking down disciplinary walls: Advancing sustainability and interprofessional competencies through a hackathon model

By Rachelle Haddock, Dr. Rahim Kachra and Dr. Nishan Sharma

The Calgary Interprofessional Challenge (CIC) engages university students across disciplines in a novel 44-hour hackathon based on faculty and peer-to-peer interprofessional education. CIC uses short introductory talks on problem-solving in different faculties, a series of workshops, and expert mentorship from university faculty, relevant specialists, and entrepreneurs as its core curriculum. A recent offering of CIC used the campus as a learning lab by focusing on a sustainability challenge at our university. The CIC model can be replicated at other campuses to advance sustainability, while cultivating interprofessional and sustainability practice competencies such as stakeholder engagement, group collaboration, and understanding of different worldviews and relationships. 

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Building a Foundation for Sustainable Principles: Case Studies of K-6 Green Ribbon Schools

By Linda H. Plevyak, Sara M. Tamsukhin and Randall Gibson

As schools provide students with choice, support the development of critical thinking skills and promote project-based learning, incorporating a focus on sustainability is a natural progression of the learning process. In 2012, the US Department of Education (DoE) developed a federal outreach initiative entitled Green Ribbon Schools (GRS) that promotes sustainability, healthy living, and collaborative efforts. The catalyst behind this initiative was a group of non-profit organizations, including the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This research focuses on case studies of K-6 schools that have been awarded the Green Ribbon School designation and how these schools build a foundation for adopting and continuing sustainable principles. Specific K-6 schools were identified and teachers and administrators from those schools were interviewed as to how they incorporated the three pillars of green ribbon schools (reducing environmental impact, improving health and wellness and offering effective environmental and sustainability education) into their existing curriculum and physical structure. Nine thematic categories were found to be the driving factors that supported the GRS success in their sustainable policies. The themes from this research help to articulate the conditions needed to create and advance sustainability initiatives.

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David Selby’s Radical Approach to Sustainability Education

By Sue L. T. McGregor

Although higher education institutions are being encouraged to reorient their curricula to address sustainability, not everyone accepts the tenets of the United Nations’ mainstream approach to education for sustainable development (ESD), especially David Selby. This paper recounts intellectual gold nuggets garnered from critically reading his scholarship about education for sustainable contraction to counter climate change and global heating (instead of global warming). His ideas are deemed both enticing and disconcerting but apropos for these ‘interesting times.’ They provide a way for people to walk a different path than mainstream ESD one that respects transience, contraction, moderation and sustainability. This can best be achieved by deep education leading to deep, quantum learning so people can engage with the fears and truths staring them in the face. The thoughts shared in this paper should resonate with educators, politicians, industry leaders, civil society and the media.

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Finding the Math in the Mountains: Place-based Learning in the Mountains of Southwest Virginia

By Heather Askea

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to provide key aspects and learning outcomes associated with the Math of the Mountains Project. Math of the Mountains was a year long grant project that engaged 60 K12 mathematics teachers in the key concepts and applications of place-based learning and mathematics instruction. Through online coursework and peer support, a four-day immersive field experience, and teacher led field experiences, participants applied elements of PBL to create lesson activities that support real-world learning and problem solving scenarios.

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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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Developing, Piloting, and Factor Analysis of a Brief Survey Tool for Evaluating Food and Composting Behaviors: The Short Composting Survey

By Jennie Norton, Becky Pearson, David Gee and Nicole Stendell-Hollis

Abstract: Household composting is a practical sustainable behavior which should be further investigated. The Short Composting Survey was developed for use during the Compost Project pilot study to measure the knowledge, values, barriers, and social norms surrounding composting (n=25). The purpose of this research was to describe the testing and refining of the survey tool for the pilot study. Statistical analyses included calculating the Index of Item-Objective Congruence (IIOC) values and conducting a confirmatory factor analysis following administration of the survey. Nine respondents assisted with survey tool development by completing the IIOC, and values ranged from 0.29 to 0.66 which indicated that all of the survey questions matched more than one construct. The factor analysis resulted in a three-factor solution with a cumulative loading of 71.2%, meaning that these identified factors contributed 71.2% of the variance in responses. Factor 1 (“Values”) proved to be the strongest factor, explaining 36.6% of the variance, whereas Factor 2 (“Social Norms”) explained 20.04%, and Factor 3 (“Barriers”) had 14.6%. This survey may be useful for future food composting and sustainability-related research efforts.

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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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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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The Community Food Forest Handbook: A Review

By Clare Hintz

“The Community Food Forest Handbook: How to Plan, Organize, and Nurture Edible Gathering Places” by Catherine Bukowski and John Munsell is a rare edition to the literatures of permaculture and agroecology: it foregrounds sociocultural dimensions in the context of ecological design. 

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Development of an Energy Literacy Measure for Middle School Students

By R. Justin Hougham, Chad Gotch, Jennifer A. Schon, Karla Eitel and Danica Hendrickson

Abstract: Energy literacy, defined by the DOE, “is an understanding of nature and role of energy in the universe and in our lives” and, “…is also the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems” (U.S. Department of Energy, 2013). Energy literacy is continuously evolving with the development of new feedstocks, technologies, and processes – all of which contribute to the changing landscape of energy production and use. In order for energy education to evolve with the energy field, better tools are needed to assess educational programs. The assessment discussed here is a step towards developing such an assessment for bioenergy.

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An Urban Nature Center: Take 2. My Journey to Sustainability Education in Rebuilding a Nature Center

By Brenda Walkenhorst

An Urban Nature Center: Take 2. My Journey to Sustainability Education in Rebuilding a Nature Center

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

By Andrew Bernier

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

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

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

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

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Gratitude as Ceremony: A Practical Guide to Decolonization

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

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

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The White Kid at the Native American Camp

By Ron Riekki

The White Kid at the Native American Camp

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

By Tim Frandy

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

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

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

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

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

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An Experience in Environmental Education with University Students

By Raúl Calixto Flores

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

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Una Experiencia En Educación Ambiental Con Estudiantes Universitarios

By Raúl Calixto Flores

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

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

By Linda Pope

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

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

By Carrie Calisay Cannon

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

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

By Eleva Potter and Jerry Jondreau

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

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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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Upstream

By Anna Metcalfe

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

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The Emerald Ash Borer Project

By Josh K. Winkler

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

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Embodying education: performing environmental meanings, knowledges, and transformations

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gerald Fallon, Robert VanWynsberghe and Patrick Robertson

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

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

By Sylvia Trendafilova, Jeffrey Graham and James Bemiller

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

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

By Kurt Rosentrater and Brianna R. Burke

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

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

By Catherine Dyer

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

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Technical Education Resources for Sustainable Agriculture: The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables: A Review

By Clare Hintz

Two books dealing with sustainable agriculture are reviewed as resources for teaching: The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables. Both fill important gaps in the field.

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Developing Culturally Responsive Teaching Through Learner-Centered Teaching During Content and Field Immersions

By Donald J. Burgess, Scheree Dowdy and Carly Boyd

Abstract: Using a mixed methodology, we followed the preparation of fifteen teacher candidates through a summer content immersion and schoolyard ecology field experience as part of their alternative route to teacher certification program. The primary purpose of our summer project was to support and learn from the funds of knowledge of the teacher candidates and migrant youth. Next we sought to determine if a learner-centered teaching, modeled in a content immersion that explored the inner life of cells, could be applied heuristically to co-plan and teach schoolyard ecology. The results suggest that a learner-centered teaching translates well between content and field immersions and can positively support the cultural and community wealth of both candidates and migrant youth while affirming and deepening our appreciation of the local natural world.

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City of Aspen Single Use Bag Study

By Laura Armstrong and Elizabeth O’Connell Chapman

Abstract: Five years after the City of Aspen Waste Ordinance went into effect, this study examines its effectiveness and current shopper behavior. The ordinance banned single use plastic bags from supermarkets and placed a $0.20 fee on single use paper bags. The policy was supported by outreach measures such as distributing reusable bags and education. Results show that single use paper bag sales per $100 of supermarket revenue ranged from a low of 0.59 bags/$100 revenue in 2012 to high of 0.78 bags/$100 revenue in 2014. This rate remained relatively constant between 2014-2016. These low values, combined with the observation that only 15% of shoppers leaving supermarkets were observed using single use bags, indicates that a substantial number of customers choose reusable bags or no bags at all. In contrast, observations made at a nearby supermarket with no bag policy in place indicated that 77% of shoppers left with single use bags. Surveys and interviews indicated that while some people initially opposed Aspen’s bag policy, the community has now generally adapted to and accepted it. These results suggest a level of success in using a policy lever, such as Aspen’s Waste Reduction Ordinance, to advance sustainable behavior.

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Waiting for Godot: Leadership for sustainability in higher education and the emergence of Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs).

By Paul Kolenick

Abstract: The question is raised about the nature of transformative change with respect to sustainability in higher education. In particular, should this change be reserved for senior administration? Or alternatively, should faculty and staff as the “institutional middle” of higher education be considered as best suited to lead sustainability on campus, and further, in partnership with stakeholders and others with interests in advancing sustainability within wider society. In this respect, Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs), established by the United Nations’ University (UNU) are considered as a way toward transformational change in higher education by bridging the gap between higher education and multiple stakeholders with interests in sustainability. Complexity theory, and particularly the notion of complex adaptive systems (CAS), is applied toward an understanding of RCEs as a venue for sustainability leadership in higher education.

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Connecting through the lens: Cross-cultural perspectives on urban design and water infrastructure using participatory photography as an observational learning tool

By Molly Gail Mehling, Gregory Galford, William Biss, Darlene Motley, Yandi Andri Yatmo and Paramita Atmodiwirjo

This case study shares a unique educational experience that combined sustainability and design education with international partnerships that sought to investigate and visually analyze relationships between housing design and water infrastructure in both Pittsburgh, PA (USA) and urban centers of Indonesia. This project built upon an existing foundation of international relationships between faculty and institutions within a consortium framework. The project used a pre-course and a faculty-led student trip to establish relationships among faculty and students based in the United States (US) and Indonesia and to determine preliminary shared research goals to be built upon for future research collaborations that can attain a deeper and longer-term relationship. Students who participated in these courses refined their visual communication skills, gained a valuable global perspective on urban water management, were exposed to participatory photography as a research tool, and were strongly affected by their cultural experiences in Indonesia. Peer work between US and Indonesian students provided opportunities for students to exchange ideas and perceptions about the observed environment, which are influenced by their familiarity and unfamiliarity with the setting. The experience of this project can serve as a primer for the sustainability educator who is interested in interdisciplinary and international educational endeavors.

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Using Global Climate Change as a Platform for Interpreting Graphical Data

By Karena M. Ruggiero and Barry W. Golden

Abstract: Scientific literacy through critical-thinking and problem-solving is an important part of the future of our nation. Understanding of science and engineering concepts creates informed citizens who can contribute to democratic conversations and be knowledge consumers. Scientific literacy also requires an understanding of data and data analysis. This lesson uses Global Climate Change as a platform for understanding graphical data by exploring the manipulations of graphs and helping students recognize the ways in which perspective and scale play a role in graphing data. The lesson provided is designed to be covered in 90 minutes with high school students. Using four graphs of global temperature change, students will work in groups to analyze graphs and recognize the way in which scaling can play an integral role in the perception of information as well as an understanding of the degree of temperature change over periods of time due to global climate change.

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Future Casting: Back to the Future

By Zenobia Barlow and Michael K. Stone

Future casting for us begins with going back — to the real basics, to understanding our place and the people who sustained themselves here for hundreds of years, engaging in real-world problem solving in pursuit of “the right kind of change at the right time.”

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Earth Leadership

By Fritjof Capra

In our state of acute global crisis, we urgently need new leaders. In this short essay, I would like to sketch out my vision of such a new kind of leadership.

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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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