Connect to the World We Live In

Building connections between academic learning and examples, experiences, and issues from beyond the ivory tower can increase students interest in a topic and help them transfer this learning to real life situations in their professional and personal lives. A spectrum of approaches can be used from simply using real examples to contextualize concepts to the more complicated use of service learning projects to allow practicing skills and applying knowledge in the local community.

Why tie sustainability topics into real world examples?

Teaching Strategies and Example Classroom Activities

  • Empower students and faculty to Community and Political Engagement
    Community and political engagement supports better outcomes in our communities and provide students with the civic and disciplinary training needed for equitable problem solving. This includes design ideas for public engagement, locally- or policy- relevant courses, and civic programming.
  • Strengthen community connections with Service Learning
    Service learning gets students out into the community with opportunities to apply their knowledge to concrete problems of high interest to the people who live there. Get more ideas for service learning projects and access collections of example activities.
  • Bring relevance to classroom concepts and skills Using Local Examples and Data
    Local examples, field work and data can motivate students learning by applying concepts to the world outside their window. See other pedagogic guidance and ideas for incorporating local examples and data as well as teaching materials and resources.
  • Engage students with examples they can relate to by Using Real World Examples
    Real world examples give us case studies and data to help students understand how concepts apply to the world beyond the area they can experience directly. Explore strategies for using case studies and a rich set of examples.
  • Demonstrate and practice practical skills by Utilizing Field Work
    First-hand observation of the natural world creates a special kind of connection between students and the Earth. Take a look at some example activities that utilize field work, including those that can be done in an urban environment as well as those that incorporate service learning.
  • Teach Sustainability and Social Justice through Contrasting Narratives
    Explicitly comparing and contrasting narratives about the same topic, or how a story changes through time, can illuminate differences in the ways different communities or members of a community view an event or topic, or changes in the way an event or topic is viewed by a community as their perspective changes over time.

Unit 6: Hydrologic Balance and Climate Change
Kirsten Menking, Vassar College

Unit 7: Heat Flow in Permafrost
Kirsten Menking, Vassar College

Unit 8: Thermohaline Circulation
David Bice, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Unit 3: Simple Climate Models
Louisa Bradtmiller, Macalester College

Unit 5: Growth and Decay of Ice Sheets
David Bice, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

5. Passive Designs
Randolph Chambers, College of William and Mary

Unit 1: Introduction to Modeling Dynamic Systems
Kirsten Menking, Vassar College; Louisa Bradtmiller, Macalester College; David Bice, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Unit 10: Coupled Economic and Environmental Models
Louisa Bradtmiller, Macalester College

Unit 1: Use of Lead in the Environment and Health Impacts on Human Populations
Katrina Korfmacher (University of Rochester), Richard Gragg (Florida A&M University), Martha Richmond (Suffolk University), and Caryl Waggett (Allegheny College)

Module 3: Diet and Nutrition
Steven Vanek, Pennsylvania State Univ-Penn St. Erie-Behrend Coll

Unit 5: The Sixth Extinction
Camille Holmgren, SUNY Buffalo State University

Module 9: Climate Change
Gigi Richard, Fort Lewis College

8. Efficiency and Conservation
Maurice Crawford, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore

Module 10: Food Systems
Steven Vanek, Pennsylvania State Univ-Penn St. Erie-Behrend Coll; Karl Zimmerer, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Unit 2: Community-Based Participatory Solutions
Richard D. Schulterbrandt Gragg III, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University; John Warford, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University; Cynthia Hewitt, Morehouse College; Akin Akinyemi, Florida State University; Cheryl Young, Heritage University

4. Creating Electricity from Light
Benjamin Cuker, Hampton University

Browse the complete set of real-world connections activities

Resource Collections

      Next Page »