Sustainability in Transition: Principles for Developing Solutions offers an in-depth education-focused treatment of how to address sustainability in a comprehensive manner. The textbook is structured as a learning-centered approach to walk students through the process of linking environmental behavior and decision-making to green innovation systems and green economic development practices, in order to achieve sustainable change in incremental to transformational ways. This process is critically analyzed throughout the book as the central tenet of multi-level sustainability transitions. The textbook will be required reading for advanced and graduate level sustainability courses composed of students who have already completed introductory sustainability classes. These students are looking for more critical perspectives, applied learning, and exciting readings and exercises that challenge their preconceived notions of sustainability problems and solutions while providing the competencies, tools, and techniques essential for sustainability professionals. Sustainability in Transition implies that it is time for a transdisciplinary textbook on sustainability, which combines new ways of educating for sustainability with new approaches to understanding societal change. Building sustainability tools, techniques and competencies cumulatively with the help of problem and project-based learning modules, Sustainability in Transition: Principles for Developing Solutions represents a comprehensive resource for learning sustainability theory and doing sustainability practice.
This study examined and compared faculty perceptions of the process of institutionalizing sustainability, developing sustainability pedagogy, and activating key sustainability competencies between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Arizona State University (ASU). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 professors in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at OU and 10 professors in the School of Sustainability at ASU. The results highlight the complexity of teaching sustainability in an interdisciplinary manner in both programs. Professors are incorporating many of the key competencies of sustainability teaching, but in a patchwork manner that does not necessary follow the comprehensive frameworks from the literature. The comparative analysis leads to recommendations for teaching sustainability in higher education. This study contributes to theories of sustainability teaching by identifying gaps between what professors are actually doing and experiencing and a set of best practices from the literature.
This study seeks to understand if geographers, who teach in a new sustainability program, are conveying new knowledge, understanding, skills and competence about the integrated and holistic concept of ‘sustainability,’ rather than individual human-environmental issues, to the students. In other words, are geography professors creating effective sustainability courses in a department with a rich history in geography education? This study utilizes the McKeown-Ice and Dendinger comprehensive assessment tool for sustainability teaching to examine how geographers teach sustainability from an integrated and holistic perspective. Surveys with students are used to evaluate and compare how effective three geography courses were at teaching sustainability. The results suggest that each course was effective in teaching students the main concepts of sustainability. There were, however, differences in teaching practical solutions to achieve sustainability and in the coverage of the causes of sustainability problems. Geographers might consider altering their curriculum or pedagogy to build stronger interdisciplinary linkages to teach the integrated concepts of sustainability rather than its individual parts. Changes are recommended to enhance the ability for integrated sustainability education programs to comprehensively teach sustainability.
Widener J, Gliedt T, 2015, “Building interdisciplinarity into teaching: A dream course on sustainability and global environmental change” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 1(3), 29-41
Two major issues facing society, sustainability and climate change, are inherently difficult to teach in a traditional disciplinary class due to the complexity and multi-faceted nature of each issue. Geographers often teach courses on the complex concepts associated with global environmental change, but few geographers are experts in the physical sciences, social sciences, and environmental humanities, meaning that students would learn either the science underlying climate change, the social science necessary for creating solutions in the anthropocene, or the humanities’ cultural relations to various environments and our turn toward a more sustainable life. The problem with this traditional teaching pedagogy is that it falsely portrays these issues as being understandable and solvable by any single discipline. This is in contrast to the academic research community, where researchers such as those funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) build interdisciplinary teams of experts with humanities, physical science, and social science backgrounds because sustainability and climate change require an integrated perspective both to understand and to solve the wicked problems represented in global environmental change. In this article we describe a different model of teaching that is based on the NSF format of interdisciplinarity. We demonstrate this model from our experience in a co-taught, upper-division Presidential Dream Course at the University of Oklahoma in 2013. Our hope is that this model offers educators in similar positions with one alternative that could potentially provide a more comprehensive student understanding of the issues of sustainability and global environmental change.
Pikes Peak, Colorado