Archive: Education Setting

Greenhouse Gases: True, but Not the Whole Truth

By Christopher A. Haines

Abstract: A brief history of climatological science sets the stage for understanding the rise of the greenhouse gas thesis. That science is true as far as it goes, justifying our confidence, but it is an incomplete assessment of climatic systems. We have spent 40 years accepting the “pot lid” as the cause of the pot boiling over. That the “sun-warmed surface” impacts climate has been known for nearly 200 years. But greenhouse science failed to incorporate that and other scientific findings on urbanism, water cycles, and land management practices. To remedy this, I propose a broad climatic paradigm to address the actual cause of warming and provide a far more hopeful future with ample opportunities to resolve over-heating more completely, locally, and in a matter of months, years, or maybe decades, instead of centuries. Lastly, I discuss the significance of paradigm change, a new approach, and an expanded curriculum as challenges to sustainability education.

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Collaborative Ground Work in an Urban Green School: Empowering Students as Change Agents

By Laura Jennings, Kemeka Sidbury, Tamika Bierlein, Sohail Sukhera, William Sterrett and Jodi Hebert

Abstract: This case study provides insights into a collaborative effort involving D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, a public university-run lab school in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The article overviews the combined efforts of DCVPA staff, university faculty, and community partners to engage the students in unique, hands-on learning experiences, particularly in the STEM areas. Students have taken the initiative to serve as change agents and leaders in the work. Several efforts at the school, including a composting program, a recycling effort, a seedling project, and a mycology lab, provide a window into dynamic experiential learning that has brought the university and school together.

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How to attract new target groups to address the SDG objectives: The case of an intelligent aeroponic community garden

By Heidi Rajamäki-Partanen and Timo Witikainen

Abstract: To successfully implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must encourage all citizens to work together to enable a good life not only for us now but future generations too. In this article, we present an experiment carried out in autumn 2020 on a smart aeroponic garden. The goal of the experiment was to learn more about aeroponic cultivation and IoT technology and to acquire the know-how that would enable the participants to influence the environmental burden of food production. Our experiment showed that technology could also be used to introduce sustainable development themes to reach those target groups whose attention could not be attracted through other methods.

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Because it is fun? How to design for long term engagement in informal sustainability education.

By Rebecca Jordan and Amanda Sorensen

Abstract: Many have written about the different ways people participate in authentic scientific research. However, some of the means used to engender public support in research may prove ultimately counterproductive. In this opinion piece we argue that science is not fun much of the time, and more importantly that fun in itself is not an end goal in engaging public audiences. To draw participation, we need to focus on motivation; which can include fun some of the time.

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Sustainability-Themed Programming Around Nature-Themed Literacy: Great Nature Reads and Multilingual Storytime

By Laura Guertin and Karen Theveny

Abstract: A partnership between a university and local arboretum was expanded to include the campus library as a collaborator. Instead of having sustainability-themed programming between the two institutions focus on just the environmental components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a library brings attention to literacy and information access across all aspects of the partnership. We share two public programs held between our university and an arboretum with strong involvement by the library in the development and execution stages, thereby increasing the connections across the SDGs and progress towards the 2030 agenda.

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Empowering Staff Members to Improve Student Learning in Sustainability Projects: The “We Are All Educators” Workshop at Harvard University

By Kris Markman, David Havelick and Margaret Wang

Abstract: Staff members play an important role in guiding students through living lab sustainability projects at Harvard University. Since there are significant opportunities for co-curricular learning in these settings, we created the “We Are All Educators” professional development workshop to empower those staff members to optimize and track student learning throughout these projects. In this case study, we will briefly summarize key principles of CCL and discuss its benefits as a tool for sustainability education in higher education. We will also describe our planning and implementation process for the workshop, the content of our training materials, and the results. Finally, we will end with key takeaways, as our workshop may be applicable to co-curricular learning in a variety of higher education contexts.

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A Tree, a Rock, a Butterfly

By Julie Dunlap

Abstract: This word journey explores flaws in our approach to cultivating environmental ethics and caring for biodiversity, especially among youths, through the lens of Carson McCullers’ classic story about the tragic but common failure of so many to achieve love between human beings.

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Placemaking Curricula in Teacher Preparation: 
Bridging State Standards and Local Expertise

By Laura Liu

Abstract: This study examined how placemaking curricula shaped teacher candidate (candidate) knowledge, dispositions, and skills to understand, appreciate, and sustain local diversity, as evidenced through candidate reflections and products created in an elementary teacher education course integrating civic science concepts and practices into elementary classrooms. This study explored how placemaking curricula engaged community stakeholders in meaningful shared inquiry on real-world challenges, while meeting state science education standards. Placemaking inquiry projects developed by candidates focused on soil and water conservation, and sustaining diversity in schoolyard spaces. Curricula engaged candidates in learning soil and water conservation techniques from local farmers and conservation leaders, then developing and sharing co-authored civic science children’s books on conservation topics aligned to grade-level standards. As further placemaking curricula, candidates partnered with elementary teachers and students to guide schoolyard observations, designs, and models constructed to sustain diverse abilities, cultures, and ecologies. Presentations to parents and peers celebrated shared insights.

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25 Years Pioneering High Altitude and Glacial Archaeology from the Mountains of Argentina

By Constanza Ceruti

Abstract: Glacial archaeology is an emerging field of scientific research, rapidly expanding in Scandinavia, the Alps and North America. And yet its origins are to be found in the Andes of Argentina. Constanza Ceruti is the first woman high altitude archaeologist in history. Her pioneering contributions to this field of research involve having ascended and explored, sometimes solo and unsupported, more than one hundred peaks above 5000 meters in remote corners of the Andes. In 1999, Ceruti codirected the scientific excavations on mount Llullaillaco (6739 m), the highest archaeological site in the world, and co-discovered three extraordinarily preserved frozen mummies, together with an outstanding collection of artifacts from the Inca civilization (currently housed at the Museum of Mountain Archaeology in Salta, Argentina). In recent years, Ceruti has climbed hundreds of mountains in different parts of our planet, to study (from an anthropological perspective) their role in pilgrimage, folklore, popular devotion, mythology, identity and tourism. Her academic production includes more than one hundred scientific papers and twenty-five books on sacred mountains of the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and Polynesia. A northern hemisphere predominance in anthropology at large, and particularly in high mountain and glacial archaeology (associated also with mobbing and male chauvinsm in mountaineering), have led to a lack of proper recognition, not only for her own  pioneering career, but for the rightful place of the Andes at the forefront of academic research on the sacred role of mountains in ancient cultures.  

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

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

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

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

By Julia Silver

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

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GIS and Sustainability Engagement in Higher Education

By Ryan Kmetz and Kayla Hickman

Abstract: Does the use of an interactive GIS web map significantly influence the level of sustainability stakeholder engagement at institutions of higher education? With over 1,000 institutions of higher education across the globe, the AASHE STARS report is one of the main tools available to sustainability professionals. For many institutions, the STARS report serves as a metric of sustainability progress and a source of new ideas and methods, while GIS provides a platform to display information within a context of systems, places, or times. Interactive web GIS allows for digital storytelling and can allow the user to explore specific information pertinent to their interests. This research explores potential links between the use of web GIS platforms and levels of campus engagement as measured by STARS.

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

By Paul Stonehouse

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

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Case Study: Integrating Scenario Planning into Sustainability Practicums

By Stephen C. Trombulak and Jack M. Byrne

Abstract: Sustainability education can productively focus on concepts and/or skills, each playing an important role in preparing students to promote sustainability in society. We describe here the skills-based curriculum in an environmental sustainability practicum designed for undergraduate students. Although our curriculum provides training in numerous relevant skills, we focus here on one in particular: scenario planning. Originally developed in the 1970s by Shell Oil to develop robust business strategies in the face of future uncertainties, scenario planning is applicable to any planning domain where future conditions may be driven by the outcome of critical unknowns. For example, planning for effective community resilience in the face of climate change may depend on the degree of government support for renewable energy systems. In this practicum, students work in teams of 3-4 on the same challenge: Assess a specified human-natural system for its vulnerability to climate change in the next 20 years and develop solutions that effectively increase the resilience of the system in the face of uncertainty.
Scenario planning involves six steps: (1) Identify driving forces for future changes; (2 and 3) Identify certainties and uncertainties for future conditions; (4) Rank uncertainties by the degree to which they might affect future conditions; (5) Create a 2×2 grid of possible future scenarios based on the two most influential uncertainties; and (6) Describe the future world in each of these four scenarios. Using creative ideation techniques developed by IDEO for their Human-Centered Design methodology, students then use these four scenarios as the basis for envisioning effective strategies for promoting resilience regardless of how the critical uncertainties unfold (adaptive planning) or for influencing uncertainties to increase the probability that preferred scenarios manifest.

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

By Kristy Franks and Travis Moore

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

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Unthinking Oil Together: Developing a Collaborative and Transdisciplinary Course to Imagine a Post-Carbon Future

By Gabriel Fuentes, Daniela Shebitz and Julia Nevárez

Abstract: While it is widely recognized that effectively addressing climate change requires a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, we nonetheless find ourselves in an impasse, unable to imagine nor bring about a post-carbon future. This is, in part, because climate change is not only a technological problem, but also a philosophical, cultural, and aesthetic problem—an existential crisis of thinking, or perhaps unthinking. To unthink the carbon regime, higher education must forge new thought models and educational platforms that operate in solidarity across disciplinary scales and territories. This report documents a collaborative course development process for a grant-funded transdisciplinary course entitled: Unthinking Oil: Public Architecture and the Post-Carbon Imaginary. In particular, we discuss a virtual Unthinking Oil Workshop held with students and faculty from a range of disciplines. The workshop provoked broad discussions regarding the role of higher education in addressing the many entanglements between climate change, society, and the built environment.

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Listening for a Life-Sustaining Society

By Jen Mason

Abstract: After 20 plus years as a sustainability educator, the author had one of those lie-awake-at-night-staring-at-the-ceiling experiences where she faced some hard questions about the state of the world. In this article, describes her subsequent journey investigating the role of listening in shifting to a life-sustaining society and her Ph.D. research into how to support listening across differences to address complex social-ecological challenges.

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River Meditations: A Journey into Environmental Education 

By Blake C. Scott. and Merrie Koester

What if a river or a creek were to tell us its story? In this short film and interview, we offer a glimpse into the ecological philosophy guiding our efforts to create “more sustainable ways of living with water and how to appreciate its capacities to support all life.”

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The Thin Blue Line: Community-Based Climate Change Adaptation and the Case of RCE Greater Dhaka (Bangladesh)

By Paul Kolenick

Abstract: In 2008 astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured an image of sunlight as it passed through the Earth’s thin atmosphere, described as the thin blue line of “all that stands between life on Earth and the cold, dark void of space.” At the center of sustainability education is a discourse of climate change and life’s demise on the planet. In this short article, the contributing role of the United Nations University’s Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) for sustainability education is explored with respect to community-based climate change adaptation, notably through RCE Dhaka (Bangladesh) as an example of the challenges and opportunities for climate change adaptation in one of the most heavily populated megacities of the Global South.

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Supporting Eco-Character Development Through Community-Based Inquiry Learning

By Andrea Kunze

Abstract. This study investigates whether children at an urban place-based environmental education camp can develop three dimensions of eco-character development after week-long participation: Head (knowledge), Hand/Feet (action), and Heart (care/connection). Using a community-based and inquiry-driven curriculum, campers practiced the roles of an arborist, ecologist, and environmental steward. Fifty-five Campers were assessed on all three dimensions using a 10-question pre/post-survey. An overall increase in content knowledge, relationships with nature, and motivation for pro-environmental behaviors were found. Outdoor environmental education summer camps and other out of school experiences may be the new avenue for educators and instructors to consider when trying to promote positive eco-character development in future generations.

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Effect of Ecopedagogy-Based Environmental Education on In-Service Teachers’ Consumer Behaviour in Turkey: A Follow-Up Study After Seven Years 

By Emel Okur-Berberoglu

Abstract:  Ecoliteracy can be defined as an understanding of natural systems and connections between biotic and abiotic factors within sustainable future. Green consumerism is an observable side of ecoliteracy. The aim of this study is, therefore, to examine the long-term effect of environmental education programmes intended for in-service teachers in terms of behavioural change. The teachers were joined ecopedagogy-based education programmes funded by TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) in Turkey and were followed up after seven years. The methodology of the study was mixed method within a case study. Quantitative data were collected by a survey and analysed by R statistics. Qualitative data were analysed by content analysis. It was found that the green consumer behaviours of in-service teachers have improved in the long term. However, it is needed more follow up studies within different time frames and country comparison studies in the future.

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‘Challenge to the South’ Revisited: A Case Study Worldwide of Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

By Paul Kolenick

Abstract: Three decades ago Julius Nyerere (1990) wrote Challenge to the South. In response to the legacy of colonialism, Nyerere challenged the nations of the Global South to advance their development and to free their people. These concerns are as relevant today as they were in the 1990s. Established for the United Nations Decade of Education Sustainable Development in 2005, there are now over 175 Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for sustainable Development (ESD). This paper offers a case study of RCEs worldwide with a particular focus on challenges, and responses, including a focus on the select Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of poverty and health. Further, an account is given of RCEs which have attended to the recognition of Indigenous and traditional ways of knowing. 

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Vanessa Nakate and Perceptions of Black Student Activists

By Chelsea McFadden

Abstract: This editorial discusses the intersection of environmental and racial justice and how the movement has failed to center voices most affected by climate change.

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Farm-to-Table: How One Teacher Fostered Passionate, Project-Based, Place-Based Learning

By Jacquelynne Anne Boivin

Abstract: While passionate, project-based, and place-based education may sound like a stream of buzz-phrases or fads in education at face-value, this article uncovers their impact on student engagement and academic proficiency. While they are not textbook, traditional, pedagogical approaches, they are esteemed in the field of Education as undeniably effective and worth teachers’ consideration. This article discusses the impactful aspects of a.) passionate teaching, b.) project-based learning (PBL), and c.) place-based education (PBE). A former fifth-grade teacher’s experience in creating and implementing a curriculum titled, “Farm-to-Table,” contextualizes the power of passionate teaching, PBL, and PBE when used simultaneously. The article concludes with special considerations for other teachers that warrant attention before they start planning their own passionate, PBL, and PBE curriculum.

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

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

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

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Campus Forest Carbon Sequestration: An Undergraduate Project Experience

By Mark Bremer, Emily Frisa, Rachelle Maccarone and Daniel Seif

Abstract: Predicted changes in climate have generated interest in strategies to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases and increase education on the topic. Our study involved an instructor-led team of 19 biology undergraduate students that aimed to quantify tree carbon sequestered on 67 hectares of a university campus forest near Utica, New York, and estimate its monetary value as a carbon offset. We identified individual hardwood and conifer trees and measured diameter at breast height (DBH) of 343 trees within fifteen 0.04-hectare sample plots during a 3-week period. We estimated total campus forest carbon to be 7,678 Mg and annual sequestration to be 82 Mg C/year. We also found additional educational value of this voluntary field research project beyond traditional ecology field exercises. Campus managers could choose to count sequestered carbon as an offset to annual CO2 emissions from campus operations. Although our campus is not eligible to sell the accumulated carbon, we calculated a one-time offset to be worth $143,397 on the voluntary carbon trading market. Future studies could benefit from the efficient sampling methodology we used to quantify carbon contained in large forest areas and increased student learning from project-based field exercises.

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An Audio Journey Through Solutions to Global Warming in Pennsylvania

By Anna Nguyen and Laura Guertin

Abstract: Podcasts are increasing in popularity as an educational tool in recent years, but there remains a lack of podcasts that focus on climate change. The goal of this project was to create a series of audio files that address global warming solutions in the state of Pennsylvania, with each episode based upon a drawdown solution. Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that models how to reach “drawdown”— the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. This audio collection contains new and original podcasts addressing each Project Drawdown sector of global warming solutions, such as materials and waste, electricity generation, and land use. To highlight efforts in Pennsylvania, thirteen interviews were conducted with scientists, journalists, and professionals from organizations across the state, such as Feeding Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia Green Roofs, StateImpact Pennsylvania, and Land Air Water Legal Solutions. Named Drawing Down in Pennsylvania, the podcast collection starts with an introductory episode, then eight episodes each corresponding with one of the Project Drawdown sectors, and wraps up with two additional episodes – one titled “Hope” with messages of optimism towards achieving warming solutions from the interviewees, and a special episode that focuses on The Pennsylvania State University and its efforts toward to drawdown. The audio collection is published online, together with corresponding transcripts and supplemental materials. It is hoped that these podcasts will help inform Pennsylvania residents to make choices and to take action for a sustainable future. For residents outside of Pennsylvania, these drawdown efforts can be applied to different populations and regions. The entire podcast series can be accessed at: https://sites.psu.edu/drawingdownpa/ and is suitable for middle school through college classrooms as well as general audiences.

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How An Arboretum Outreach Activity Changed Students’ Attitudes Towards Sustainable Development

By Laura Guertin, Karen Theveny and Ivan Esparragoza

Abstract: In Fall 2017, Penn State Brandywine kicked off an initiative titled Sustainovation, emphasizing programming and community collaborations through sustainability and innovation. The campus identified Tyler Arboretum as a community partner to work with to assist in advancing their education and outreach goals. Students from across the campus came together at the beginning of the semester for an initial meeting to be introduced to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to meet the community partner and to hear about the semester project of adding sustainability education to the arboretum’s fall festival Pumpkin Days. In addition, a validated survey from Biasutti & Frate (2017) was given to the students to define their attitudes towards sustainable development before working with this partner and the project. The survey addresses four sustainability constructs of Environment, Economy, Society, and Education. At the end of the semester, the same survey was given to student participants in this Sustainovation project for Tyler Arboretum. Aggregate data show that there is a statistically significant difference in student attitudes at a minimum 90% confidence level (t-test) for eight of the twenty survey statements in the constructs of Environment, Economy, and Society.

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Inspiring Action, Efficacy, and Connection: Weaving Sustainability into Environmental Science Curriculum through a Connected Learning Model

By Teresa Bertossi and Philip Halliwell

This comparative case study of teaching and learning experience explores connected learning design principles to improve engagement in higher education and weave sustainability practice into introductory environmental science curriculum through the integration of community, place, peer support, networking, and technology.  For this study teaching and learning took place in multiple settings, online and in a brick-and-mortar classroom, and in students’ communities. We set out to ask: In what ways might the implementation of connected learning principles be used to improve engagement and weave sustainability into environmental science curriculum, broaden interest in science literacy, and encourage community action in introductory higher education courses? Comparative analysis and collaborative autoethnography methodologies were utilized to compare professor experiences for analysis and synthesis of patterns.  Findings suggest that connected learning curriculum can broaden access to science, improve engagement, and help weave sustainability into a variety of courses by presenting students with relevant applied opportunities, connections and critical thinking about place and community, peer support and intergenerational connections, networking, and technology. Students can also gain a sense of agency and career relevance especially important to students who might otherwise feel they cannot “do science” or make a difference in a changing world.  Lastly, this approach can improve instructors’ teaching experiences by relieving time and content constraints to incorporating sustainability into other course subjects as students submit more interesting passion-driven work, and are encouraged to network with and learn from individuals (family, community, and scientists) outside the classroom they may not have otherwise sought out.

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Thinking Like a Trout Stream

By Julie Dunlap

Abstract: Aldo Leopold’s classic essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” has been a touchstone of environmental ethics and sustainability education for over seventy years and continues to challenge and inspire wildlife ecology undergraduate students, and many more. But has it lost some power in the face of mounting evidence of accelerating damage and growing threats to the natural world, threatening biodiversity and human society on a global scale? Students and others now need another Leopold story, one that encapsulates an environmental ethic with a call for urgent action, a metaphor that urges not just change, but rapid transformation.

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Editorial Overview: Ecomedia Literacy Special Issue

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

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

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Media Education and Ecological Modernism: Embodiment, Technology and Citizenship

By Carl Bybee and Shelby Stanovsek

Abstract: The field of media education, emerging within the instrumental vision of modernity, has largely ignored its unspoken modernist assumptions. In this article, we argue the time has come to fully engage an embodied view of media from an evolutionary, ecological perspective—what we might call ecological modernism. This is a perspective that views media as evolving mediations through various material/technical practices, where body knowledge, rather than some idea of objective reality, is understood as the empirical ground for how we come to make sense of ourselves and the world. The focus is then shifted from the problem of subject versus object relationships to how subjects and objects are mutually constitutive. By extension, the juxtaposition of the concept of citizen with the body clarifies yet another crucial dimension of the embodied perspective. Two examples of “citizen”-based media education projects are briefly reviewed from this ecological modernist perspective in order to consider the implications of resituating grounded citizen-oriented media education.

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The Tree of Life (2011), Eco-theology & Film: A Conversation with Prof. George Handley

By Benjamin Thevenin and George Handley

Movies as Mirrors is a conversation podcast in which guests discuss films that reflect a social issue that interests or affects them. On this episode, Professor of Humanities George Handley discusses the 2011 film “The Tree of Life” with podcast creator Benjamin Thevenin and guest-host Camlyn Giddins. The conversation explores the film’s representations of our relationship with the natural world, and in particular its use of eco-theology to introduce its audiences to ecological issues. We discuss the value of film as environmental education for the public and the need for more nuanced cinematic representations of issues like climate change.

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Connecting Youth, Eco-Media and Resilience in Appalachia

By Derek Douglas, Emmanuel Garcia and Mary Grueser

Abstract: In the summer of 2019, the We are All Connected urban-rural youth media program launched Something in Our Water, an eco-media documentary project that investigates the shared problem of water sustainability, public health, and climate change in their communities. This article discusses the transformative experience that the youth from New York City and the Clearfork Valley in the East Tennessee Appalachian mountains had as they learned about the history of multinational coal mine companies’ economic and environmental exploitation of the community, and the fierce and unequal power relations that continue to challenge environmental advocates today. With a focus on the perspectives of one of the Tennessee youth producers, the article reflects on the impact intergenerational learning and multicultural collaboration can have in nurturing future youth and community eco-media activists in Appalachia in the face of deeply rooted local and structural constraints. Through the process of documenting struggles in urban and rural communities, the youth team developed a deeper understanding of how the environmental justice movement cuts across differences to show how everyone is connected and can be empowered to take action.

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Training community-based journalists for climate change reporting: lessons from South Africa

By Brett Cohen and Leonie Joubert

Abstract: Reporting to the public on climate change impacts, adaptation, and mitigation requires journalists to be equipped to engage with a wide range of technical content in order to communicate it in an accessible and engaging way. Recognizing the need for journalists from a wide range of backgrounds, including those from community newspapers and radio stations in South Africa, to be able to undertake this task, the South African Department of Environment Affairs in partnership with GIZ commissioned the authors to develop and deliver a four-day climate change reporting training programme. This paper presents an overview of the structure and content of the course, and details the reflections after undertaking such an endeavor.
Based on the lessons learned, and an awareness that this kind of training may take place in the context where working community-level journalists may have a low knowledge base (of both the journalistic craft, as well as the content of climate science) the following recommendations emerge: scientific training may need to be combined with basic journalistic training (depending on the participants); learning-by-doing is central to journalists building their capacity in climate reporting training; and mother-tongue delivery of material is critical to the success of such technical training courses.

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Moving from STEM to MESH

By Tim Wise

America is falling behind the rest of the world in science and math. There is therefore, a renewed emphasis on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). But while mastery of STEM subjects is essential to the functioning of society, we’ve neglected some other areas that are at least as important, if not more so. But without an equal commitment to comprehensive civics education — an examination of subjects that touch on the relationships between people, government, the economy, and media — all the technical know-how in the world will be for naught. The author suggests a renewed focus on MESH education, which stands for Media Literacy, Ethics, Sociology, and History. Because if these are not given equal attention, we could end up with incredibly bright and technically proficient people who lack all capacity for democratic citizenship.

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Coal’s Last Gasp, Its Resuscitation by Media, and the Habitus of NIMBY

By Carolyn Fortuna

Abstract: The shift away from coal to renewable energy for electricity generation is producing environmental benefits during the climate crisis but also poses uncertainty for coal producers and others along the coal supply chain. Media representations of the coal debate shape how citizens understand and respond to it. This commentary exposes how audiences – even of pro-environmental media – reproduce dominant discourses promoted by fossil fuel corporations and reconceptualize those discourses into a Not in my Backyard (NIMBY) worldview. Critical discourse analysis helps to reveal how tensions between coal companies and renewable energy proponents are exacerbated by controlled coal messaging. Coal propaganda evokes images of a noble and reasonable energy source and places coal within a positive framework that enhances local knowledge, protection, and economic security. Conclusions point to the importance of media literacy instruction as a means for consumers to gain critical distancing strategies and broader perspectives about the climate crisis.

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Engaging with Things: Speculative Realism and Ecomedia Literacy Education

By Benjamin Thevenin

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

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“Solarpunk” & the Pedagogical Value of Utopia

By Isaijah Johnson

Abstract: This paper examines the ecologically oriented speculative fiction genre known as “solarpunk” and its value for the cause of environmental justice. This article argues that the status quo is characterized by relative inaction on the issue of fighting climate change and that this inaction is the result of an inability to imagine a “green” future. As a form of speculative fiction which explicitly depicts such green futures, solarpunk may be a valuable tool in promoting action by overcoming widespread cynicism about the future. Solarpunk fiction is thus a useful tool for sustainability educators because it encourages critical examination of one’s environmental impact. This article details the ways in which solarpunk stories function as counter-hegemonic media by intertwining issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, and colonialism with an ecological ethic.

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Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective: Sustainable Storytellers Challenging The Status Quo

By Jason Corwin

Abstract: The Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective, a community organization based in Ithaca, New York, set out to define sustainability in their own terms by giving a diverse group of local adolescents the opportunity to engage subjects of environmental and social justice through digital media production within the auspices of a unique afterschool job-training program. Interviews with youth participants and adult mentors illustrate key concepts for environmental and sustainability educators desiring to facilitate engaging learning environments utilizing multimedia. Excerpts of their interviews provide a lens into the workings of a non-formal educational environment that explicitly embraced media literacy, media arts production, and community engagement to advocate for issues of justice and sustainability while facilitating opportunities for ecological learning. This case study highlights the potential of digital storytelling to foster students’ knowledge retention, connection to nature, sense of empowerment, and ability to create positive change in their communities.

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

By Andy Opel

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

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

By Tema Milstein

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

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

By Amanda Bielawski

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

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Words for Water

By Mary Dougherty

This photo essay is an excerpt of a longer work, Words for Water.

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Seeing Water Through the Trees: Maasai Activists in Kenya Among Indigenous Leaders Worldwide Calling for Upstream Forest Conservation as Nature-Based Solution for Downstream Water Security Amidst Climate Crisis

By Amanda Bielawski

Abstract: This article posits that Maasai Indigenous activists’ call to save Kenya’s Mau Forest Water Tower for its ability to protect downstream water security has emerged as an environmental-policy microcosm illustrative of globally surging interest in such Nature-Based Solutions (NBS).  Through an analysis of the Mau Forest issue, a series of United Nations Development Programme case studies, and increasing inclusion of NBS for water at recent global policy events such as the United Nations General Assembly and World Economic Forum, this article suggests that a new water infrastructure policy paradigm appears poised to increase implementation of NBS-informed by Indigenous and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK). The potential of this paradigm shift is illustrated by the North American Indigenous Mi’kmaq concept of Two-Eyed Seeing, which encourages the synthesis of solutions from both western-emanating Scientific Ecological Knowledge (SEK) and ITEK on a path toward positive social-ecological outcomes.

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

By Linda Pope

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

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

By Linda Pope

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

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In search of “We the People” in Light of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”

By Helen I. Lepp Friesen

Abstract: In this article, I view Alvarez Armando’s “We the People” sculpture in Gallup, New Mexico, through the lens of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and argue that although the message of the “We the People” art installation is to illustrate democracy and freedom, its staticity may contradict its intent and adds an additional layer to its interpretation. The “We the People” art sculpture invites interaction, but interaction, like in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” is limited in scope and perception. My exploration comes with questions about the meaning of cave dwelling and enlightenment. What is the meaning of “We the People” when equality is not something every citizen can take for granted? Are we then an enlightened society that think we have gained exit from cave dwelling when freedom and a particular interpretation of democracy is not designed for everyone?

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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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