Principles of Sustainability (3 credits)
This course will cover the foundational scientific principles that govern all sustainable systems. It will focus on three scientific laws: the law of limits to growth, the second law of thermodynamics which exposes the dangers of increased energy consumption, and the law of self-organization which results in complex, integrated, highly efficient, stable systems. These laws will be examined at various spatial and temporal scales in biological and ecological systems to show how they function in the world around us. We will then apply them to the examination of human systems-organizational, social, economic, and political as well as intentionally designed systems. Students will learn how to evaluate, from a foundational perspective, why practices or policies will either support or thwart sustainability in any system.
History & Practice of Educating for Sustainability (3 credits)
This course is an introduction to Educating for Sustainability, providing an overview of the philosophical, historical, and theoretical underpinnings of EFS. We will study the evolution of EFS during the past quarter century as we clarify for ourselves the meaning of the terms “sustainability” and “educating for sustainability.” Beginning with a review of the historical initiatives and events that gave rise to EFS, we will explore the conceptual components of this field, while simultaneously considering our personal perspectives on them. Then we will turn our attention to the strategies and guidelines applied in the practice of EFS, gaining global perspective by researching implementation of EFS in a variety of contexts. Students can expect course work to include: reading, discussion, individual and group projects, reflective and expository writing, and oral presentations. For the final project in the course, each student will present an overview and critique of an institution or curriculum as seen through an EFS lens.
Childhood & Nature (3 credits)
When children have access to free play in natural areas, they do the same things, around the country and around the world. They make special places, go on adventures, develop fantasy games, go hunting and gathering, craft small worlds. These recurrent play patterns can be used as design principles to help structure engaging outdoor activities with children. During our days together, we’ll recollect our own favorite childhood experiences and we’ll spend time outside exploring some of these recurrent play patterns. We’ll discuss the research on the relationship between childhood play in nature and environmental behavior in adults. Then we’ll use these experiences to design new approaches to nature programming at schools, nature centers, and environmental programs.
Connecting Communities (3 credits)
This course will focus on models of experiential education that intentionally weave citizenship and service into learning. In this course, students will learn how to design a service-learning unit. The first class will focus on designing and identifying a project that meets a community need while meeting curricular requirements. In addition, students will learn strategies for building student ownership and citizenship skills into the project. Students will plan a curricular project involving a local community partner.
Practicum (3 credits)
The purpose of the EFS Practicum is to assist students in integrating theoretical knowledge gained through reading and seminars with their experience as teachers. The emphasis in the Practicum is upon self-evaluation, reflection, and articulation of experience in relation to issues of educating for sustainability. Students may call on faculty consultants for particular assistance with classroom practices. A reflective journal is required of each student as well as at least one visit to another classroom, an annotated bibliography, and a sustained observation of a student.
Curriculum Design for Educating for Sustainability (3 credits)
Working from the foundation of your own curriculum design methods, processes and implementation, we will explore Educating for Sustainability through curriculum design. We will begin with a review of principles of curriculum design, focusing on learning cycles and systems thinking. We will study and critique curriculum materials in terms of EFS, and you will learn how to use EFS criteria to develop and evaluate your curricula. With attention to state standards, as well as integration of the core emphases of environment, economics, and equity, you will work with others and individually to incorporate EFS into curriculum materials as you plan curricula for implementation in your own schools.
Integrating Environment, Economy & Equity (3 credits)
The essence of educating for sustainability (EFS) is the integration of environment, economy, and equity (the three E’s) across the curriculum. In order to be effective, EFS curricula must integrate the three E’s so that they are in balance. This course will ask participants to draw on their own experiences to consider how these three have been integrated in the past and how we may integrate them in the future. We will review curriculum models which integrate the three E’s, collaborate to create integrated curricula, and develop curriculum materials for our own classrooms which integrate the three E’s in developmentally appropriate ways.
Sustainable School Practice (3 credits)
This course will focus on a systems-thinking approach to the design, implementation, and maintenance of institutional facilities. We will explore the integrated systems within a school which enable it to function and serve its community, and we will consider the larger municipal, national, and global systems in which schools are embedded, including ecological, economic, and social systems, as we investigate paths of resource use and waste management. Attention will also be given to the human resource structures designed to manage interrelated institutional systems, systems such as heating/cooling, food services, water, electrical, and grounds maintenance. Students will research green building initiatives. Applying what they learn to their own schools’ practices, students will formulate recommendations to improve sustainable practice, noting the costs and benefits of doing so. Learning from this course may be integrated with and applied in both the practicum and master’s project.
Sustainable School Leadership (3 credits)
This course is designed to explore students’ roles as leaders in their schools, school districts and in relation to implementing their change project. We will identify qualities of effective leadership and strategies for building leadership capacity in oneself and others. Students will engage in taking leadership roles, reflect and write about their developing leadership skills, interview leaders they admire, and become knowledgeable about current leadership theory.