Sustainability in Action
The purpose of this course is to get students to use their campus as a system to understand what is sustainability and sustainable practices, while learning research and change-agent skills. We begin by coming to a shared understanding of what is sustainability. We discuss how sustainability influences higher education and critique higher education's influence on sustainability. Other in class conversations include; what are the incentives and barriers to sustainability; how do you assess sustainability; who are the local and higher education sustainability exemplars; how are climate change and higher education connected; how is systems thinking a part of sustainability; and what impacts have students had on sustainability in higher education. The topics covered provide students a background, and hopefully an incentive, to create on-campus sustainability research projects. The experiences they have with project design and follow through provides valuable contributions to the topic discussions.
Class discussion of weekly readings: I facilitate discussion of readings not covered by students. Student are graded on their participation in discussions facilitated by myself or other students.
Group Work: This is preparatory work done by group members (2-3) who are working on a culminating project. Often this work is done in class and includes brainstorming ideas, creating an action plan on how they will accomplish their project and a contract with each individuals responsibility for the project completion. At the end of the quarter they are asked if each team member met their contract obligations.
Culminating Research Project: The group creates small scale sustainability project on campus. Assessment parameters are used to measure the extent of the project affect and the group writes a paper about the process and outcomes for University decision makers.
Poster Presentation: The research results are presented at a public forum to engage people in the issue. The audience for the poster is fellow students, faculty and staff at the university.
References and Notes:
Readings will vary with student interests, but here are ones that I have used;
Stibbe, A. (Ed.). (2009). The handbook of Sustainability Literacy: Skills for a Changing World. Foxhole: Green Books.Lemonick, M. D. (2009). Top 10 Myths about Sustainability. Scientific American
Melea Press, Matt Caires, and Tracey Patton. (2010). "Research and Solutions: Campus Sustainability through Civic Engagement at the University of Wyoming." Sustainability: The Journal of Record. April 2010, 3(2): 115-118. doi:10.1089/SUS.2010.9787.
Nurlan Isaev, Michael Rawson Clark, and Debra J. Davidson. (2010) "The Role of Paper Consumption." Sustainability: The Journal of Record. June 2010, 3(3): 171-177. doi:10.1089/SUS.2010.9772.
Cortese, A.(2003). The Critical Role of Higher Education in Creating a Sustainable Future. Planning for Higher Education, v31 n3 p15-22, Mar-May 2003 http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ669840&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ669840#