Making Connections between Geoscience and SustainabilityLaura Rademacher, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of the Pacific
Assignments in my courses that integrate sustainability and the geosciences are designed to lead students to an understanding of how their individual choices and decisions impact the Earth. These assignments consist primarily of analyses of individual behaviors and lead to comparisons both locally and globally. For example, I often employ "fingerprint" activities (water, carbon, energy, etc.) in which students are led through the calculations of how their decisions impact a particular resource. In addition, I use back of the envelope calculations as a means of building quantitative skills, but also as a launching point for discussion. These types of activities help students to think quantitatively without increasing their math anxiety, as students are not required to have any math by the time they enroll in these courses.
The biggest challenge I face is that the vast majority of students in the introductory level courses I teach that center on sustainability are not Earth or Environmental Science majors. Therefore, the connections to student's every day lives and between the environmental, economic, and society are essential for success. In general, students are receptive to these strategies, and they often comment about the great impact these courses have on their every day lives, specifically, the links between their behaviors and decisions and their broader impacts, in course evaluations