Crossing Disciplinary Borders for Sustainability EducationEllen Metzger, Geology and Science Education, San Jose State University
My efforts to bring sustainability concepts to the classroom have taken two forms
- development of an elective "Science, Society, and Sustainability" course for upper division undergraduate and graduate students in education and geology and
- professional development workshops for Earth science teachers.
In both cases, Earth system science supplies a foundation for understanding how economic and social systems are constrained by Earth's biophysical limits.
These initiatives share similar content and teaching approaches including:
- A thematic framework for relating sustainability to students' lives through connections to everyone's daily needs for food, water, energy, and materials.
- Use of multiple teaching strategies including lecture/discussion, small group activities, and reading and writing assignments to engage learners in critical analysis of the social, economic, environmental and ethical challenges arising from the collision of human and natural systems.
- Investigation of biogeochemical cycles, energy and water resources, ecological footprints, food systems, climate change, life cycle analysis, and the true environmental and social costs of energy, food, and consumer goods.
Lessons learned from these initiatives will serve as the basis for design of an introductory sustainability-themed science capstone course for future elementary and middle school educators.
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