Sustainability and the Environment

Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Session

Session Chairs

Cailin Orr, Carleton College
Barbra Sobhani, Red Rocks Community College
Toward Reciprocal Integration: Fusing STEM, Liberal Arts and Business Curricula in Undergraduate Sustainability Education
Rick Oches, Bentley University
David Szymanski, Bentley University
Donna Fletcher, Bentley University
Timothy Sipe, Franklin and Marshall College
jeffrey nesteruk, Franklin and Marshall College
Christine Mooney, Northern Illinois University
Sheldon Turner, Triton College

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While a scientifically and technologically literate citizenry is essential to meet the challenges of sustainability and ensure U.S. economic competitiveness, a strong STEM workforce alone is not sufficient to address complex problems like water scarcity, growing energy demand, and global climate change. In a world driven by commerce, decision making for sustainability requires reshaping education for future business leaders, and at the same time, teaching all students to think critically and practically about their role in commerce and society. Achieving this kind of "reciprocal integration" among STEM, liberal arts and business disciplines requires a transformation in higher education, including a change in the way faculty approach – and understand – transdisciplinary teaching. We present here a model for moving toward reciprocal integration through the collaborative development of transdisciplinary undergraduate sustainability curricula. We describe an innovative model for moving toward reciprocal integration of business and STEM/liberal arts education by collaboratively developing, implementing, and rigorously assessing transdisciplinary undergraduate sustainability curricula across three different types of academic institutions with different student populations and academic cultures: Bentley University (Waltham, MA), a small university focusing on business education; Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, PA), a traditional undergraduate liberal arts college; and Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL), a large public research university. Using a sound theoretical approach and sustainability as context for teaching the transdisciplinary nature of complex systems, our model builds on preliminary research aimed at bringing STEM, liberal arts and business faculty together to construct modules for teaching core disciplinary principles in the context of a larger problem of sustainability. While our pilot project was successful, testing the broader development and implementation of fused curricula to bring about the essential cultural change in higher education requires a deeper bench of faculty, students, and institutional cultures and settings.
Broadening Student Exposure to Sustainability: New Course Development
Barbra Sobhani, Red Rocks Community College
Lynnette Hoerner, Red Rocks Community College

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At Red Rocks Community College, our science department has made an interdisciplinary effort to incorporate sustainability into non-major science classes through curriculum development. New labs and activities that deal directly with sustainability have been written for geology, physics and general science classes of all levels. In addition to infusing existing curriculum, we developed several new course offerings to expand student exposure to sustainability and energy issues. Energy Science and Technology (PHY107) is an introductory level, lab-based course exploring many aspects of energy. Introduction to Climatology (MET151) is a new lecture course for non-science majors. Science and Society (SCI105) is a lecture course that focuses heavily on energy and climate change. ENV 110 is a lecture course on Natural Disasters with an emphasis with climate change. Field Studies in Energy (PHY208) is a field course that will allow students to study energy topics in locations such as Iceland, Colorado, and Wyoming. These new offerings are generating student interest and excitement about energy, climate, and the relevance of sustainability in their lives.
Teaching Sustainability through Blended and Online Learning
Tim Bralower, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

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The blended and online arm of the InTeGrate STEP center is in the process of developing five courses, Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society, Water Science and Society, Climate, Energy, and Our Future, the Future of Food, and Earth Modeling. These courses add to an existing blended and online course, Earth in the Future that has been taught at Penn State for three years. The courses are designed to support a new Minor and Certificate of Excellence in Earth Sustainability offered in online format through the Penn State World Campus and in blended format on campus. Combined, the courses include 72 weekly modules. When finished the materials will be available on the InTeGrate website and faculty anywhere can customize courses via the Common Cartridge. In our presentation we will provide examples of how different types of courses can be constructed from the modules. The lecture part of the courses is online. Students take weekly multiple choice quizzes. The courses are all active with blended sections meeting once a week to do laboratory activities. These activities are hand graded in blended sections. Online students do many of the same activities, however assessing these activities is challenging. Students enter answers to fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions in the Course Management System. Because the online classes may become large, we are developing large test banks of questions. We are structuring these questions according to Blooms Taxonomy with blocks of questions involving lower and higher order skills. All students blog once a week to assess metacognition. Finally all of the courses have capstone activities. The online courses have the potential to reach non-traditional students. The World Campus courses have proportionally large numbers of adult learners as well as US Military. Finally, the blended courses are suited to small colleges and universities without earth science faculty.
Integrating Sustainability Into Teacher Education: Examples from San Jose State University
Ellen Metzger, San Jose State University
Eugene Cordero, San Jose State University
Susan Santone, Creative Change Educational Solutions

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Today's students face multiple, accelerating, and intertwined "Grand Challenges" to sustainability including climate destabilization, resource depletion, and biodiversity loss, underscoring the need for education at all levels to address complex and growing environmental, social, and economic problems. Although progress is being made, sustainability-related instruction is sparsely represented in K-12 schools, in part because it had no place in science education standards issued nearly two decades ago. The recently-released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) address sustainability through incorporation of "Earth and Human Activity" as a core idea and attention to previously neglected topics such as climate change and interactions among natural and human-designed systems. To translate the NGSS successfully to classroom practice, educators need support for mastery of new content areas related to sustainability and for toppling traditional disciplinary silos. Teachers also need tangible examples of how to shift instruction from isolated lessons and fragmented factual information to integrated learning sequences - coherent, sequenced investigations of significant, real-world questions and issues. In response, the Bay Area Environmental STEM Institute (BAESI) is collaborating with the Green Ninja Project (http://greenninja.org/) and Creative Change Education Solutions (www.creativechange.net/) to support educators in implementing the NGSS using sustainability as a timely and engaging context. With funding from NASA and the Clarence E. Heller Foundation we are pursuing several multilevel strategies: 1) summer and Saturday professional development workshops for in-service teachers; 2) self-paced online modules addressing climate change, ecosystem services, and human impacts on the Earth system; 3) "Science, Society and Sustainability" courses for a) pre-service elementary teachers and b) practicing teachers enrolled in SJSU's MA in Science Education program; and 4) development of a multi-day NGSS-aligned "Solutions-Based Science" unit for grades 6-8 which focuses on the science of climate change and various strategies and opportunities to mitigate its impacts.
Wetlands & Development: A Studio Approach to Environmental Planning Education
Mary-Ellen Tyler, University of Calgary
Andrew Cuthbert, University of Calagary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Benazir Thaha, City of Chestermere
Kenneth Law, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Nathan Grivell, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Susann Lagore, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Steve Altena, University of Calgary
Tae Kim, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Nazhut Butt, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

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The City of Calgary metropolitan area has been the fastest growing urban region in Canada for over a decade. The glacial history of region has left the Calgary area with an abundance of wetlands recognized provincially as significant for breeding waterfowl. This regional wetland system also provides water retention capacity in the landscape for both seasonal flood and drought protection. However, by1981 it was estimated that 78% of the pre-settlement wetlands in the Calgary area had been lost and by 2012 that estimated rose to 90%. Historically, this loss has been the result of agricultural intensification and more recently from rapid urban and rural municipal growth and associated land use change and development. Wetland ecosystem goods and services play an important role in water quality and bio-diversity. To ensure existing wetland benefits remain viable and sustainable into the future it is critical for urban and municipal planners to explore alternative futures for wetland conservation in regional land use planning and urban development. The Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) at the University of Calgary offers professional planning education at the graduate level and is unique among Canadian Schools of Planning in that studio as its signature pedagogy. This type of 'cognitive apprenticeship' is the hallmark of professional education. The senior studio for professional practice in Environmental Planning involves twelve hours of class time on a weekly basis that integrates specialized input from invited resource persons and professional planning practitioners involving field trips, group, and individual project tutorials. In the winter term 2015, Master of Planning senior students identified 6 different wetland and development projects addressing environmental planning and design innovations and interventions to enhance urban and regional wetland conservation in a municipal government context. Posters representing these six projects and environmental planning studio pedagogy are proposed for presentation.
Grand Challenges Undergraduate Research Scholars Program: An Interdisciplinary Model to Increase Student Involvement in Sustainability Research
Rachel Kennison, University of California-Los Angeles

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The first UCLA Grand Challenge, "A Sustainable LA, Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles" provides a path for the Los Angeles, California region to become 100% sustainable in renewable energy, local water resources and biodiversity by 2050. Approximately 160 UCLA Faculty are currently collaborating to work toward this goal. The Grand Challenges Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (GC-URSP) was created in fall 2014 to integrate sophomores into sustainability research by being matched with a Grand Challenges faculty mentor to complete a year-long research project and concurrently participate in a companion class. The overall goal of the program was to prepare students to be the next generation of sustainability problem solvers. The objectives of the class were: to acquire tools to successfully support an individual research project, work in an interdisciplinary team to change an environmental behavior and effectively communicate results. The pedagogical approach to the class was student centered with activities and group work as well as guest presentations from different content areas. The first cohort was comprised of students from 22 different majors from life/physical science, social science, arts and humanities and faculty represented 30 different departments. Along with sophomores, 10 seniors were accepted to be "Project Consultants". They had a separate curriculum, were trained as leaders with a focus on mentoring, teaching, and facilitating the group projects. Pre and post surveys were completed each quarter to assess content knowledge as well as effectiveness in achieving the goals of the program. Preliminary results showed that content knowledge increased in research skills, scientific writing, oral presentation skills and interdisciplinary teamwork. Students were more likely to continue in their research settings for the summer or the following academic year. The model to connect the classroom activities with a research experience appeared to increase student interest and involvement in sustainability research and activism.