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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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Undergraduate Energy Education: The Interdisciplinary Imperative

By Kenneth Klemow

Undergraduate energy education is often offered from a specific perspective, such as engineering, sustainability, policy, or economics. This essay argues that undergraduate programs in energy should be explicitly interdisciplinary, because issues surrounding energy production, transmission, and use have multiple perspectives. Challenges to creating interdisciplinary energy programs include often-compartmentalized nature of colleges and universities, and employment prospects for broadly-educated graduates that may not be clear. Strategies for overcoming those issues are proposed, but others remain to be developed by leaders in undergraduate energy education.

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Achieving Energy and Ecological Literacies for All: Linking Ecology and Energy Education. Perspectives from Sessions at Ecological Society of America (ESA) 2014 Annual Meeting

By Leanne M. Jablonski, Kenneth Klemow and Gillian Puttick

Linking ecology and energy literacy efforts is an essential step for producing scientifically literate citizens who are able to make informed choices about energy, yet the two literacies have developed independently. To explicitly link these, we explored the interface between ecology, energy and education by inviting experts from diverse fields to share perspectives on how to improve public literacy in ecology and energy. This paper presents a synthesis of three organized sessions at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) August 2014 annual meeting: a symposium on a broad range of issues related to energy, ecology and sustainability; an organized oral featuring innovative approaches using ecological concepts to educate Kindergarten through college students about energy, and a share-fair where these innovations were demonstrated. Presentations represented all age-levels, non-formal and formal education, the geophysical sciences, public policy experts, government agencies, ecologists and sociologists, faith-based and environmental non-profits.

Diverse, creative and innovative educational approaches are underway, with major government funding attesting to their import. For ecologists, most of the energy applications centered on sustainability issues, and focused on climate change caused by fossil fuel development. Emerging considerations include direct impacts of energy development and transmission on ecosystems. Conversely, energy literacies should consider the role of ecology, given the ecological impacts involved in decisions about energy extraction and transport. General public audiences including environmental, faith-based and environmental justice communities are increasingly considering environmental dimensions in energy decisions and policy outreach but often on single, time-sensitive issues. Adult education would benefit from a more comprehensive integration of energy and ecology.

We propose that including an explicit ecology dimension in the energy literacies, and similarly involving energy application in the ecology literacies, would be synergistic and allow these inclusive and inherently interdisciplinary fields to flourish and best serve our educational goals of achieving an informed citizenry.

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Curriculum Designing with Sustainability in Mind: Reflections on a Process

By Dan Caston

There are unique challenges in sustainability education that many in administrative and decision-making positions may not fully understand. While there is a general movement toward interdisciplinary curriculum design in colleges and universities, what may truly be needed to effectively address sustainability issues is trans-disciplinary curriculum design. Using my experience in creating the Stewardship Toward Sustainability certificate program at Ferrum College as a launch point, I discuss solutions to overcoming conceptual and political barriers in this process.

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