Creative tools and design principles for sustainable classrooms

By Neda Movahed and David Manuel-Navarrete

Standardized, assembly-line models of education have created significant momentum for unsustainable classroom situations. Classes are sustained throughout the term using ranking systems and proof of outcomes such as grading and reporting on content knowledge acquired. There is a clear ending in sight. Both students and instructors are often bound to this ending, often feeling a deep sense of relief at the end of each class session. As sustainability educators, we have become conscious that industrialized methods of education no longer serve societies re-envisioning ways of sustaining themselves. Sustainability Education necessitates sustainable classrooms – spaces that are alive, adaptive, and open to innovation. We explore design principles that can support sustainable classrooms, focusing on creativity, humanity, horizontality, and compassionate facilitation. We share examples of creative learning tools used in a 300-level Sustainability classroom in Arizona State University. Data collected through student interviews and journaling are woven throughout the article to ground our viewpoints with practical insight.

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