Archive: North America

Tea conversation under St. Johns Bridge Portland OR


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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Mankato sculpture

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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Credit: Phyllis Perry

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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A Future Invested in Sustainability: Sustainable Architecture and Education in the Midwest through the Ethical Philosophy of Luce Irigaray

By Andrea Wheeler

Wheeler JSE March 2017_Future Casting Issue PDF Abstract: Theories of sustainable architecture that address sexual difference are rare in an architectural context, whether in the United States or Europe, and this paper proposes a critical perspective on architectural design using sustainable schools as an example and adopting the question of sexual difference. Informed by the […]

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University-Museum Partnerships: Reflections on Programmatic Best Practices for Sustainability Collaborations

By Sandra Rodegher and Stacey Freeman

Abstract: In order to effectively address global sustainability challenges, a wide spectrum of society must be engaged. Universities generate knowledge, enhance understanding of sustainability problems and identify potential pathways to solutions. However, the information they produce often does not reach the public sector. Primary and secondary schools contain expert teachers and science communicators, but they are often limited by educational standards and other teaching duties. On the other hand, museums, such as science and natural history museums, are particularly skilled at translating scientific information so that it engages and excites the general public without the limiting expectations of school systems. Thus, partnerships between museums and universities offer great potential for disseminating sustainability knowledge and solutions on a global scale. However, given the complexity of sustainability problems, partnerships between universities and museums require a deep level of collaboration beyond the scope of information or resource exchange. In this article, we explore our experiences collaborating with museums, reflecting on challenges and, ultimately, identifying four main focal areas to successful, transformational collaborations. Though we focus on museum partnerships from the university perspective, we contend that any institution can apply these four steps to make progress on wicked problems that require immediate action.

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U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award from 2012, 2013, and 2014: Teacher Perceptions of Ecological and Democratic Principles

By Tania McKey

Abstract: The study was a descriptive and correlational quantitative study of U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) teachers’ perceptions of ecological and democratic principles in their schools. Descriptive statistics described the ED-GRS teachers’ perceptions of how the ecological and democratic principles operate in their schools. Correlations were used to look deeper at the ecological and democratic principles and to what extent these principles were related. Teachers in ED-GRS award winning schools reported evidence of ecological and democratic principles. The findings suggested that ecological and democratic principles had a positive relationship among them. In addition, there were seven principles that had strong, positive relationships among each other as perceived by teachers in ED-GRS award winning schools. I concluded from the data that sustaining ecological change requires evidence of democratic leadership and community. This study contributes to the field of educational leadership by providing a descriptive analysis of a newly-created United States Department of Education award. In addition, this study provides schools and school leaders with information as how to make sustainable changes that lead to healthy, high performance schools including a theoretical framework to provide guidance in making the sustainable changes.

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The Cure is in the Cause: A Rationale and Guide for Scaling Up Indigenous Principles & Practices for Resilience and Sustainability

By Dawn Marsden

Abstract: Healing a world on the brink of eco-social collapse requires an understanding of how planetary health has declined, how sustainable societies worked before, and how we can restore them. Global colonizing processes established a worldview of economic domination and competition that has had detrimental impacts upon our social and environmental systems. Archeological and mathematical studies of the rise and fall of human civilizations concluded that egalitarian societies with low environmental exploitation were the longest lasting in human history, and that high economic stratification, and/or overexploitation of resources were precursors to societal collapse. Indigenous community systems were relatively egalitarian and environmentally sustainable. Hypothetically, if we use Indigenous eco-social systems as a guide for community planning, then eco-social collapse can be averted, and eco-social resilience and sustainability can be restored. A framework of Indigenous principles and practices is included, with examples of goals, activities and indicators.

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Environmental Literacy in Environmentally Themed Higher Education Courses

By Jordan A. King and Rebecca L. Franzen

Abstract: This study sought to determine the influence of environmentally themed higher education courses upon students’ self-perceptions of their environmental literacy. Past research has suggested mixed conclusions about the objectives, approaches, and impacts of environmental and sustainability education in higher education. This study assessed environmental literacy and the influence of pedagogical perspective and instructor emphasis in environmentally themed higher education courses. Using the Hollweg et al. (2011) framework for environmental literacy, the study assessed students’ self-perceptions of their environmental literacy in a pre- and post-test format. Data were analyzed using a paired samples t-test and one-way ANOVA with a Tukey HSD post-hoc test. The results of the study showed that environmentally themed higher education courses are having a significant influence on students’ self-perceptions of their environmental literacy. However, instructors seemed to emphasize behavior least of the four aspects of environmental literacy. These findings suggest that environmentally themed courses are having a strong impact, yet further integration of environmental education principles may be meaningful. This study clarifies the impact of environmentally themed higher education courses. The distinction between pedagogical perspectives delineates new understandings of the differences in environmental literacy change. This study serves as a ground for future research to build the implementation of environmental education in higher education.

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M31, Andromeda Galaxy, photo: Hubble/NASA

Hope in the Liminal State

By Mary Jackson

Abstract: Inspired by the entanglements of the Cosmos, this essay is a response to the JSE special call for papers on future casting sustainability education. The author’s approach reflects an integrated view of humans, moving beyond Anthropocene, capitalism, and Donald Trump to the idea of the Chthulucene, an era of reciprocity amongst human and more-than-human. In challenging times, such as this, sustainability education can look towards the future through hopeful pedagogies of interconnection through reciprocity, storytelling, and embracing the bio-cultural diversity of Earth.

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The Future of Sustainability in Higher Education

By Nathan Hensley

Abstract: In this article, I explore the future of higher education within the context of teaching and learning for sustainability. Challenges currently facing sustainability education are identified along with opportunities to face these challenges in ways that are transdisciplinary and holistic. I make the case that envisioning the future of sustainability education enables practitioners and educational theorists to better meet the needs of today’s generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). My vision of the future of sustainability education in higher education is grounded in transformative, experiential, and place-based approaches. Engaging students in authentic inquiry in the classroom enables students to become better citizens and stronger problem solvers within the context of sustainability and beyond.

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Reframing Humankind’s Relationship with Nature: Contributions from Social Exchange Theory

By Keri Schwab, Daniel Dustin and Kelly Bricker

Abstract: In this paper we compare and contrast the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1985) with Social Exchange Theory (Homans, 1958) as conceptual foundations for eliciting pro-environmental behavior. We reason that Social Exchange Theory provides the better orientation because of its metaphorical power in casting humankind as being in a reciprocal relationship with nature rather than being in a superior position over nature. We illustrate our thinking by discussing ecosystem services (Melillo & Sala, 2008) as nature’s contribution to humankind in return for humankind’s responsible environmental stewardship.

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

By Jeffrey Louis Perrin and Perrin Dumar

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

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

By Tina L. Salata

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

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Constructing Nature

By Garrett Hansen

Abstract: As native Midwestern prairie and savannah landscapes continue to be destroyed, some environmentalists are working to reconstruct the prairie and savanna ecosystems that greeted European settlers a century and a half ago. This series of photographs engages those reconstructed landscapes and considers the fundamental question of what we consider natural. As many of these sites are used for educational and scientific purposes, this series also engages how the arts can contribute to our understanding of place.

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The new “Three Rs” in an Age of Climate Change: Reclamation, Resilience, and Regeneration as Possible Approaches for Climate-Responsive Environmental and Sustainability Education

By Marna Hauk

Abstract: This thought piece proposes the adoption of a new “3 Rs” to inform a climate-responsive environmental and sustainability education (CRESE): reclamation, resilience, and regeneration. As a changing climate becomes the larger campus of our learning, denial and top-down emergency preparedness both prove to be insufficient. We are invited into a deeper approach. Reclamation and resilience fold in (1) the saving of enduring biocultural lifeways and patterns and (2) the dynamic flux-states of panarchic socioecological resilience models. These two partner with (3) regeneration: context-responsive social collaborations; eco-socially-embedded capacity building systems; and the promise of regenerative design. These three approaches allow us to re-envision educational systems and encounters that are proactive rather than only reactive or responsive in metabolizing persistent climatic volatility. These three approaches – reclamation, resilience, and regeneration – echo the three approaches to climate change that Pelling has suggested (2009) – mitigation, adaptation, and transformation. Note, however, unlike Pelling’s model, these approaches are conceived as simultaneously requisite literacies and movements rather than as competing. Reclamation, resilience, and regeneration represent ever-more-complex types of capacities and support capacity building aimed together toward life-supportive, dynamic, complex systems transformations. Environmental and sustainability education that fosters skills of reclamation includes preservation, conservation, recording, and the establishment of libraries and sanctuaries of exemplar systems. Environmental and sustainability education (ESE) for resilience includes network extension and adaptive capacity building. ESE for regeneration nurtures emergent complex systems metacognitions, creativities, and transformative, transgressive social approaches that are connective, disruptive, and innovative and model and embody complex emergence. Regenerative ESE fosters skills to facilitate catalysis of emergent regeneration, self-organization, and transformation into more complex living systems. All of these position embedded learners in pro-active, systems-intensive embodiments of the types of living networks that foster survival, flexibility, thriving, and phase-change during our entry into a time of consistent climate turbulence.

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Alive, Survive, Strive, Thrive: A Grounded Conceptual Sustainability Taxonomy

By Kenneth W. Borland

Abstract: A conceptual sustainability taxonomy has been needed to better communicate the value of sustainability, to align sustainability scholars’ theories and sustainability educators’ practices, and to develop curriculum, teaching, learning, and assessment to enhance college students’ comprehension of and commitment to sustainability across general, major, and co-curriculum. Original conceptual research, including the grounding of a conceptual sustainability taxonomy with early career student affairs educators in higher education, presents a grounded conceptual sustainability taxonomy (Alive, Survive, Strive, Thrive) for educating college students and initiating scholar-practitioner contemplation, discussion, and research.

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Case Studies in Sustainable Social Work: MSW Students Explore Principles in Practice

By Kevin Jones, Lindsay Merritt, Ashley Brown, Shelby Davidson, Diana Nulliner, Jennine Smart, Lisa Walden and Nick Winges-Yanez

In 1999, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the United States published a policy statement on the environment that acknowledged the social work profession’s apparent “lack of interest” in environmental issues, and called for a new urgency among social workers to address the challenges of pollution, environmental contamination, and resource depletion. Despite this call for urgency and the increasing certainty of widespread social and environmental crises due to climate change, the integration of ecological concepts into mainstream social work education and practice has been slow and sporadic. Only recently have some social workers begun to openly discuss a re-centering of social work within a sustainability paradigm, emphasizing the importance of interconnectedness among humans and the natural world, interdisciplinary alliances and partnerships, and holistic justice-focused practice. This paper explores the potential for a case study assignment in a Master of Social Work (MSW) program to help make explicit connections between sustainability concepts introduced in the classroom and the practical application of these concepts in a wide range of social work practice settings. Three sample case studies from students are presented, and advantages and challenges of this pedagogical approach are discussed.

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A Sustainability Performance Assessment Tool: The SPA System

By Dorothy Paun, Shannon Bray, Tomoki Yamaguchi and Simiao You

Stakeholders have become increasingly vocal about companies’ sustainability impacts, and corporations have responded by issuing sustainability reports that discuss and gauge performance metrics for a variety of social and environmental dimensions. These corporate sustainability reports are public domain and contain a wealth of longitudinal data that could be used by stakeholders, including educators and students. However, these reports appear to be vastly underutilized due to insufficient knowledge of and skills for assessing corporate sustainability information. This article presents the SPA (Sustainability Performance Assessment) System (Paun 2015), an educational tool for mentoring students in corporate sustainability performance research. The Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 framework forms the model underlying SPA. A student learning outcomes survey reported that 96% of the respondents said the SPA System reduced sustainability report complexity through enhancing their sustainability knowledge and/or analytical skills. More specifically, student feedback indicated an increased understanding of sustainability both as a concept and from a business perspective, and the improved ability to assess and compare corporate sustainability performance based on sustainability report information and data.

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Education for a Sustainable Future: Benchmarks for Individual and Social Learning

By Jaimie Cloud

This document is a provisional draft that has emerged out of an initial “State of the Field” issue and database, published in JSE in 2014 and a follow-up conference in Winter of 2015.

Jaimie Cloud of the Cloud Institute has been the lead organizer and author of this document. See the opening pages for the large number of additional contributors.

A process for comment and revision will be announced during Spring/summer 2016.

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The City of Roses—Pasadena City College and the Chemistry Research Laboratories

By Jillian L. Blatti, Anthony F. Cuccinello, Betsy Juarez, William Liang, Jianyi Lu, Nikolai Massine, Jennifer Portillo, Elliot Pourmand, Anakany Ramirez, Vanessa Sanchez and Carina Sepulveda-Torres

As a background for these student responses, I would first like to describe the distinguished program they are a part of at Pasadena City College (PCC). The Early Career Undergraduate Research Experience (eCURe) is a program at PCC that provides students with an undergraduate research experience in the natural or physical sciences at the onset of their scientific careers. This unique experience inspires enthusiasm for scientific research by introducing students to research projects with broader impact in terms of sustainability, energy, the environment and emerging scientific technologies. In this particular eCURe research group led by Dr. Jillian L. Blatti, students have devised methods of synthesizing sustainable paints and testing their resultant properties; they have transposed their tested methods into lesson plans to engage local high schools in scientific outreach efforts, inspiring the next generation of scientists and science educators in sustainability education. As part of this outreach effort, students collaborated with Penn State University’s Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network in their Remotely Accessible Instruments for Nanotechnology (RAIN) program to bring hands-on experience with advanced analytical equipment to high school students via the Internet, including a scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope, which they used to analyze sustainable paints they crafted in the classroom. In these highly interdisciplinary and collaborative projects, PCC students are learning to integrate concepts from their science courses into a research-based setting, generating novel questions, designing experiments, analyzing the results, and communicating their science to a broad audience. This innovative community college research program has inspired our students at PCC to continue scientific research in sustainability that they have become passionate about as they transfer to four-year institutions. What follows is accounts of chemical research in sustainability in the chemistry research laboratories at Pasadena City College, the eCURe students’ ‘sense of place’, and how it impacted their views on sustainability research and education.

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The History Workshop of the Cumberland County Historical Society

Teaching Issues of Inequality Through a Critical Pedagogy of Place

By Anthony Barnum and Jason Illara

This paper examines the conceptualization and implementation of teaching inequality through placed-based and experiential learning while focusing on issues that impact the sustainability of communities through the effects of the social and historical constructs of race, class, and gender. The goal is to push students to rethink issues of sustainability in a more holistic way including social, economic, and political aspects to sustainability. In turn, students are empowered through a Freirian pedagogy to become “student-teachers” for the society in which they live in partnership with a local community organization to create public interactive history exhibits that create educational opportunities to both identify and document historical and current inequalities and their effects on the present moment and to encourage the community to engage with and analyze their own history in a manner to create meaningful dialogue and public discussion for the creation of a more equitable and sustainable society.

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Open Spaces of Democracy: Connecting Students, Wilderness, and Community through Experiential Learning

By Eric Morgan

Chronicling a semester-long civic engagement project, this essay explores the efforts of a senior seminar course to collaborate with a local wilderness preservation organization. The essay reflects on the role of students in their communities, their connections to wilderness, and the challenges and rewards of civic engagement.

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Design Team:  Shannon Lecher and Alex Gillis

A Word on Place : Altering the Meaning of Place with Typographic Installations

By Matthew Groshek

Abstract: With the challenge of exploring a particular rural site and responding with installations of type, students investigate the intersection of place, preconception, knowledge, experience and design. With a project named 4 (or 5) letters in a field, student teams participate with the changing conditions of a site and audience to alter the meaning of a place.

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Postcard from the Ballona Creek Watershed

By Nicole Lawson

This postcard is inspired by my dissertation research at the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area and Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles. I spent many months observing student tours and frequently was struck by many of the reactions and observations I mentioned in my postcard.

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Hello from Columbia, Maryland

By Chiara D'Amore

This “post card” reflects on the “senders” experiences of playing in nature during her childhood, her return to that same community with children of her own, observations about changing patterns of children’s free-play in nature, and the inspiration for and experiences of creating a family nature club to help families in her community connect with their social and ecological communities.

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The Role of Sense of Place in Collaborative Planning

By Aaron Thompson and Linda Prokopy

This paper focuses on understanding the collaborative process as a critical aspect of building community capacity to respond to change and uncertainty in the landscape. Can focusing on place-based relationship building enhance a community’s ability to make difficult land use decisions? Collaborative initiatives to preserve farmland and open space have emerged as a process that supports local involvement and ownership of community decisions; however, the variable success of these initiatives highlights the need to evaluate what factors influence individual support for collaboration. This study uses a case study to examine the role of sense of place, as well as other attitudinal and demographic factors, in determining support for collaborative efforts to preserve farmland. Drawing on analysis of responses to a survey of residents in Harrison County, Indiana from a period when the community faced intense growth pressures that threaten unique natural resources and farmland. The findings demonstrate that an individual’s sense of place and environmental attitudes positively influence support for key steps in the collaborative process, including the acceptance of strategies to address farmland loss.

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Placing Local Food Systems: Farm Tours as Place-Based Sustainability Education

By Laura Johnson, Gary Schnakenberg and Nicholas Perdue

Place can be understood as space endowed with meaning, evoking notions of difference, connection, attachment, and emotion. As processes of modernity and globalization have increasingly homogenized cultural and natural landscapes, place is said to be ‘thinning’ or lost, linked to widening rifts between social and natural worlds. Such homogenization globally has sparked concerns, as people perceive landscape loss and increasing socio-ecological injustices. One such system of homogenization and unsustainability is industrial agriculture, a system that has shifted smaller scale, place-based, and diverse food systems to a global, mechanized one, distancing production from consumption, disrupting communities, and obscuring awareness, understanding, and care.

Yet, as consumer awareness increases and people desire to know where their food comes from and who produced it, inclusive place-based food systems can provide reconnections amongst producers, consumers, community, and the more-than-human world. In this paper, stemming from research in western North Carolina, we bring together literature from scholars of place, agro-food studies, education, and tourism to investigate the role of place in local food systems as well as the potential of small-scale sustainable agricultural places to serve as important educational spaces via community-based farm tourism. To better understand such potential, we draw on a study of the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture High Country Farm Tour, an annual tour of small-scale sustainable working farms in the North Carolina High Country. Delving into participating producers’ philosophies, practices, and stories reveals passionate sustainable producers firmly rooted in place, while exploring consumer motivations for and impacts of participation makes a strong case for community-based farm tourism and other environmental tourism projects as an avenue for place-based education, community socio-ecological resilience, and sustainability across scales.

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Place, Positionality, and Teacher Preparation

By Amy Vinlove

This paper explores the relationships between teacher and student length of habitation and knowledge of place and the process of learning to teach. A qualitative analysis of social studies instructional units developed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous pre-service teachers working in rural and urban school settings across Alaska, considered in relation to the interns’ relationships to the communities where they were teaching provides the foundation for a framework considering the different ways in which place-based education might be enacted. Data analysis addresses the questions of how individual relationships with place impact the integration of place into the classroom, how a new teacher learns to enact place-based teaching in a way that allows his or her students to reap the benefits of this pedagogical mind-set and whether strategies for learning how to teach in a place-based manner vary depending on the contexts in which the students and teachers are situated.

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“A bird’s-eye view of place”. Title and original artwork by Vedan Sadashiv Koushik, aged 5.

Considerations of place in sustainability education policy: How local contexts inform the engagement of sustainability in education policy enactment and practice

By Jada Koushik

The goal of this paper is to characterize the current state of literature that explores the importance of local contexts in the uptake of sustainability in education policy enactment and practice, with a particular focus on land and place in relation to education policy. Place has been studied by various fields in distinctive ways, and each discipline tends to privilege a certain aspect of place based upon their disciplinary frameworks. As opposed to exploring place through a disciplinary lens, I am seeking to understand place as a holistic, multidimensional concept. Place has historically been conceptualized as static, never changing, and everlasting. In contrast, a more contemporary view describes place as always in process, always becoming; places are never complete, bounded, or finished. This transmutes place into a more subjective concept, something that is rich in imagery, memories, and history but blurred when it comes to limits, power, and hierarchy. Thus, places operate through reiterative and continual practice but can be disrupted through social change and movements, political swifts, and differing ideologies. This protean characteristic of place is significant when reviewing the policy enactments literature, which underscores the fact that schools are always specific, and they are dynamic and shift both internally and externally. This paper seeks to address the question: How can or should considerations of place (e.g., location, local-global, land as historical, contested, impacted by dominant culture) inform the engagement of sustainability in education policy enactment and practice?

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Place: War, Cosmos, Perspective

By Mary Jackson

Place is more than an environment – it is about the activities, memories, and relationships that are a part of it. It has a history. This essay is about the places that are a part of a relationship and experiences with a family member. It entangles memories of childhood, war, politics, learning, and the simplicity of mountain tops. As this essay examines, the materiality of an environment is much more than mere matter and becomes inseparable from relationship and meaning.

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A Sense of Place and the World Within

By Lenka Studnicka

The author explores her own personal journey toward a sense of place as she draws connections among our natural and human community, early childhood development, peace, and sustainability. The story contributes to the continuing dialogue that explores the relationship of place to humans through various viewpoints, approaches, and experiences.

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Go Green for the Home Team: Sense of Place and Environmental Sustainability in Sport

By Brian McCullough and Timothy Kellison

The sport industry has a tremendous impact on the natural environment. As a result, sport organizations have implemented ways to reduce their impact ranging from energy upgrades, waste management programs, and fan engagement. However, fan engagement efforts have received mixed results to increase participation in sustainability initiatives. This paper proposes that sense of place can be leveraged using fan identification to increase participation in such initiatives, thereby decreasing the environmental impact of the sport organization and individual fans. A conceptual model is presented and practical examples provided for the use and reference of sport management and sustainability educators or researchers.

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Phenomenology of place: Re-grounding environmental ethics through story

By Jen Christion Myers

This article draws on Heidegger’s philosophy to bring a phenomenological perspective to bear on the question of place. By revealing dynamic human and natural histories, narrative can be a particularly useful tool for orienting our environmental commitments. I share stories from Vieques, Puerto Rico, an island shaped by trauma, to illustrate the power of people articulating what they most value about the places they call home.

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The Champlain Valley of Vermont, viewed from Snake Mountain.  Photo by Joseph Witt.

Case Study: “Understanding Place” at the Middlebury School of the Environment

By Joseph Witt, Holly Peterson and Stephen Trombulak

This case study describes the experiences developing and teaching a course entitled “Understanding Place” at the Middlebury School of the Environment 2015 summer session. The course sought to include multi-disciplinary approaches to place while simultaneously engaging students and faculty in hands-on projects across the Champlain Valley in Vermont. Rather than engaging in depth with specifics of environmental history in the Champlain Valley, however, students were asked to apply the multiple perspectives encountered in the course to develop elements of a “toolbox” related to understanding the significance of place in a world increasingly characterized by globalization and mobility. In other words, rather than learning complex details and history of a singular place, students developed perspectives for understanding, valuing, and protecting the many places where they may live throughout their lives. At the conclusion of the course students were asked to teach other members of the Middlebury community about their findings. This collaborative effort over six intensive weeks between students and faculty resulted in a creative pedagogical tool—an “understanding place cookbook”—that was shared with all School of the Environment participants, faculty, and staff. While this case study is grounded in the specific context of the Middlebury School of the Environment, it points to tools and experiences that could be useful for developing globally aware place-based education at any institution, bringing an appreciation of global stratification and inequality into localized efforts toward community sustainability and resilience.

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Environmental Study of Sustainable Places, Llansteffan Wales

Sustainable Education from Vermont to Wales: Developing a Sense of Place and Resiliency through Innovative Interdisciplinary Curriculum

By JonathanSilverman and Jeffrey Ayres

Environmental Study of Sustainable Places is a pedagogical experiment in multi-disciplinary curriculum development on several levels: 1) we integrated our multidisciplinary backgrounds in the social sciences and the humanities—political science and international relations with art and aesthetic education—to develop and co-teach these half courses; 2) student learning outcomes, course requirements, interactions and collaborations, multimedia texts (that can range from journal essays to Ted talks to articles from international press to images of environmental artists), and out of class projects, promote interdisciplinary learning; 3) the semester course confronts borders and boundaries of static college curriculum around sustainability as we examine global and local understanding of sustainability, which is a pre-requisite for a residency at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David where students crossed international borders and boundaries to conduct research of sustainable policy and enculturation in Wales, United Kingdom. Students attended interdisciplinary symposiums and work collaboratively with students representing different disciplines from the University of Wales; and 4) we delicately navigated the College’s curricula policy and bureaucracy to gain approval for a paradigm shift to use the concept of sustainability as a “pedagogical big idea” to assure that students would fulfill either of the Liberal Studies Curriculum requirements: Global Issues for Common Good or Artistic Experience.

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River’s Edge Academy Students Collecting Water Values at Sucker Lake
Photo by Jonee Kulman Brigham

River Journey: Art-led, Place-based, Experiential Environmental Education

By Jonee Kulman Brigham

This case study describes an art-led environmental education project at an environmental charter high school in Minnesota. The project is a pilot of the model called Earth Systems Journey, and the theoretical approach of this model is summarized. Its goal is to provide experiential integration: a sense of self and place that are integrated with each other. The case study project, called “River Journey: Exploring the Value of the Mississippi River,” took place in the 2014-2015 school year with students in grades 9-12. River Journey takes students on a journey of their place in the local water cycle to discover how the water that flows through their school’s kitchen sink is interconnected, both upstream and downstream, to the Mississippi River through water and wastewater treatment and distribution infrastructure. Students create a GIS story map as a way to reflect on and integrate their learning and as a public educational resource. The idea of river exploration expands throughout the curriculum in the second half of the year, and another set of GIS story maps explore the river from the perspective of personal stories, population-water resource tensions, water as a strategic element in the Civil War, and ecological issues that occur along the length of the Mississippi River. Art and story inform the design of the journey and its dramatic props, including GIS, used throughout the experience.

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