The Sustainability Double Degree at Oregon State University is aiming to give professors across all disciplines access to a library of resources that will facilitate the incorporation of Sustainability concepts into all curriculum. This Faculty Resource Library is still under construction, but a preliminary list of ten research articles investigating sustainability in higher education has been assembled. Any questions, comments, or suggestions about the resources listed or the Faculty Resource Library as a whole can be directed to Zac Pinard at email@example.com.
1) Bacon, C. M., Mulvaney, D., Ball, T. B., Melanie DuPuis, E., Gliessman, S. R., Lipschutz, R. D., & Shakouri, A. (2011). The creation of an integrated sustainability curriculum and student praxis projects. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 12(2), 193-208. doi:10.1108/14676371111118237
This article discusses the implementation of sustainability curriculum that “integrates theory and practice” into courses concerning renewable energy, food, water, engineering and social change. The curriculum takes the form of labs that enhance technological and social-institutional sustainability literacy, and build team-based project collaboration skills. Through various collaborative processes discussed in the article, scholars from Environmental Studies, Engineering, Sociology, Education and Politics Departments united to design new courses and labs, and “radically retrofit” existing courses to incorporate Sustainability. The authors describe the pedagogy and results associated with the student projects, as well as persistent obstacles to the project’s success, including the balkanization of academic knowledge, university organizational structure, and the need for additional human and financial investments.
2) Barth, M. (2013). Many roads lead to sustainability: a process‐oriented analysis of change in higher education. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 14(2), 160-175. doi:10.1108/14676371311312879
The purpose of this article is to analyse and compare activities to integrate sustainability in teaching, research and operational practice in different higher education institutions. It’s process oriented focus explores which drivers and barriers are experienced as most important and how they relate to each other. The paper does this in two ways: first, it uses desktop research to select appropriate cases to study, and second, it conducts interviews with relevant stakeholders in each case and analyzes data according to the constant comparison method. Three distinctive patterns of implementation processes emerged with a unique set of influencing factors, and the paper explains the key constructs of each pattern in order to analyze the implementation process.
3) Brundiers, K., & Wiek, A. (2013). Do We Teach What We Preach? An International Comparison of Problem- and Project-Based Learning Courses in Sustainability. Sustainability, 5(4), 1725-1746. doi:10.3390/su5041725
This paper compares different Project and problem based learning courses from 6 international institutions against “a synthesized body of the literature” to create an evidence base for designing PPBL courses and introduce a framework for PPBL courses in sustainability. Data was collected through semi-structured qualitative interviews with course instructors and program officers, as well as via document analysis. The study found that each PPBL course featured innovative approaches to partnerships between the university and private organizations, extended peer-review, and the role of knowledge brokers. However, findings also indicated major weaknesses including paucity of critical learning objectives, solution-oriented research methodology, and follow-up research on implementation. Using this information, the study describes improvement strategies for identified challenges and provides guidance for the design and redesign of PPBL courses.
4) Burns, H. (2011). Teaching for transformation: (Re)Designing sustainability courses based on ecological principles. Journal of Sustainability Education, 2.
This work serves as an explanation the Burns model of sustainability pedagogy, which comprises of five key dimensions: Content, Perspectives, Process, Context, and Design Issues. “Content” increases learners’ understanding of complex sustainability issues. “Perspectives” has learners think critically about dominant paradigms, practices and power relationships and consider complex ecological and social issues from diverse perspectives. “Process” enhances learners’ civic responsibility and intentions to work toward sustainability through active participation and experience and “Context” increases learners’ understanding of geographical place and the community in which they live. Finally, “Design” weaves the other four dimensions together by utilizing an ecological course design process that consists of its own five steps: Observation, Visioning, Planning, Development, and Implementation.
5) Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3-12. doi:10.3102/0013189x032004003
This paper argues for a “conscious synthesis” of two major educational traditions: critical pedagogy and place-based education. The author first analyzes critical pedagogy to emphasize the spatial aspects of social experience and assert the general absence of ecological thinking demonstrated in critical social analysis concerned exclusively with human relationships. Then, he discusses ecological place-based education, before combining the two discourses into a “critical pedagogy of place.” This pedagogy seeks the twin objectives of decolonization and "reinhabitation" through synthesizing critical and place-based approaches. The author challenges all educators to reflect on the relationship between the kind of education they pursue and the kind of places we inhabit and leave behind for future generations and argues that in place of actual experience in the world, educators have been handed material about standardized, placeless things to teach “Classroom-based” research, which is inadequate for larger cultural and ecological analysis that reinhabitation and decolonization demand.
6) Mintz, K., & Tal, T. (2014). Sustainability in higher education courses: Multiple learning outcomes. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 41, 113-123. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.11.003
The purpose of this article was to develop a theoretical and practical framework for assessing learning outcomes that promote sustainability and use it to address the following research questions: 1) What are the reported SLO of the students and the patterns of SLO? and 2) Is there a difference between the patterns of SLO in the various courses? The authors’ methods of answering these questions include a literature review and and data gathered from 13 undergraduate courses with an environmental focus offered in a science and engineering university. Data of self-reported students’ outcomes were collected at the end of each course through open-ended questions and analyzed to identify learning outcomes that promote sustainability. Most courses equipped the students with theoretical knowledge about the environment, but differed significantly in the overall number and the variety of reported learning outcomes. Theoretical knowledge was the most common reported learning outcome in the courses, and learning focused on the professional life sphere.
7) Natkin, L. W., & Kolbe, T. (2016). Enhancing sustainability curricula through faculty learning communities. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 17(4), 540-558. doi:10.1108/ijshe-02-2015-0024
The purpose of this evaluation was to report findings from an evaluation of a faculty learning community at the University of Vermont called the sustainability faculty fellows (SFF) program. A utilization-focused evaluation framework guided the evaluation’s design and implementation, and multiple methods were used to collect evaluation data, including in-person interviews and an online survey with SFF program participants. Findings suggest that the SFF program expanded faculty understanding of sustainability concepts, encouraged curricular and instructional reform and made progress toward developing a community of faculty interested in sustainability education. The evaluation’s utilization focus was instrumental in providing useful information for improving the SFF program.
8) Shephard, K. (2008). Higher education for sustainability: seeking affective learning outcomes. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9(1), 87-98. doi:10.1108/14676370810842201
This article studies aspects of education for sustainability in relation to educational theories of the affective domain (values, attitudes and behaviours) and suggests how the use of these theories, and relevant experience, in other educational areas could benefit education for sustainability. The analysis was based on a literature review of “relevant educational endeavours in affective learning.” The findings of this paper suggest that most teaching and assessment in higher education focus on cogitative skills of knowledge and understanding rather than on affective outcomes of values, attitudes and behaviours, and that the areas of higher education that have effectively pursued affective outcomes use particular learning and teaching activities to do so. The author suggests universities assess outcomes and evaluate courses, provide academic credit for affective outcomes, provide key roles for role models and design realistic and acceptable learning outcomes in the affective domain.
9) Shephard, K., Harraway, J., Lovelock, B., Mirosa, M., Skeaff, S., Slooten, L., … Deaker, L. (2015). Seeking learning outcomes appropriate for ‘education for sustainable development’ and for higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(6), 855-866. doi:10.1080/02602938.2015.1009871
This paper makes and supports three simple arguments: 1) sustainable development is substantially a quest for affective change because while sustainability attributes learned in our higher education institutions may be described in terms of knowledge, skills, and competencies, these are underpinned by affective attributes such as values, attitudes and dispositions, 2) that which cannot be measured cannot be improved, so sustainability educators need to know that their improvements are working in the right direction by measuring them, and 3) it is possible to use research instruments to reach conclusions about learning in the affective domain. The information is gathered from research regarding the Revised New Ecological Paradigm Scale, which measures environmental concern among people. The paper concludes that sustainability learning objectives comprise affective outcomes and should be clearly articulated to evaluate their achievement. The author suggests educators teach and document critical reasoning skills.
10) Wiek, A., Xiong, A., Brundiers, K., & Van der Leeuw, S. (2014). Integrating problem- and project-based learning into sustainability programs: A case study on the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 15(4), 431-449. doi:10.1108/ijshe-02-2013-0013
This article describes the problem- and project-based learning (PPBL) program and institutional context at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability (SOS), with the goal of offering experience-based guidance for similar initiatives in other sustainability programs. It presents the diverse PPBL activities that SOS offers and examines the institutional structures in place that support them. Data were collected through literature and document reviews, observations, interviews, student evaluations and faculty surveys. The paper serves to illustrate a case of successfully inaugurating a PPBL program in sustainability at a major university. It presents the challenge of maintaining institutional momentum to make advances after the initial takeoff and explains how SOS is attempting to address this issue by developing greater program cohesion and coordination, synthesizing past products and learning, monitoring and evaluating impacts, and developing PPBL training programs for faculty and graduate students.
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