Teaching about Sustainability: Raising Consciousness and Taking Action

Teaching about Sustainability: Raising Consciousness and Taking Action

Richard Penaskovic, Dennis R. DeVries, Nanette E. Chadwick
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5856-1.ch018
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This chapter offers concrete recommendations for teaching a capstone course in sustainability to upper level undergraduates minoring in sustainability studies. Given the multifaceted nature of sustainability, the authors use a strong interdisciplinary framework. Because the two instructors are senior faculty from a scientific/technical field and a liberal arts perspective; the course is overseen by the university's academic sustainability program director, adding further breadth of input into student projects. This course comprises three distinct but interconnected components: (1) a theoretical element, i.e., reading and discussion that raises students' consciousness about advanced issues in sustainability and encourages critical thinking; (2) the use of cooperative learning teams in which students choose to solve a practical, real-world problem dealing with sustainability that forces them to be active learners; and (3) ten pedagogical strategies that are effective in motivating students to put forth their best efforts in working on their team projects dealing with sustainability.
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This chapter deals with pedagogical issues related to teaching our capstone course in sustainability for junior and senior undergraduates. The capstone course has been offered during spring semester each year since 2009 for 3 upper division credit hours, to 15-25 students who are completing the sustainability minor while working in a wide diversity of academic majors on campus. The course is strongly interdisciplinary, and as such is co-taught by 2 faculty members: one each from the humanities and the sciences, and is supervised by the Director of Academic Sustainability Programs through the Provost Office (Auburn University, 2012). The interdisciplinary nature of this course, and the use of diverse pedagogical approaches, are both integral components of college-level sustainability teaching, as recommended by the Piedmont/Ponderosa workshop model that we use to train our faculty at Auburn (Bartlett & Chase, 2012).

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