Education & Research

Teaching and Learning

Sustainability Community of Practice

Sustainability requires a transdisciplinary pedagogical approach, linking theories and methods from disparate fields and finding effective teaching mechanisms for students with diverse backgrounds and capabilities. The Sustainability Community of Practice project aims to create campus-based community network of sustainability faculty who teach or are interested in teaching sustainability related courses and share a common language and understanding of core sustainability concepts.

Upcoming SCoP Meetings

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March 2014: 
  • What: A breakfast with Dr. David Orr, national expert in environmental literacy and ecological design, to discuss sustainability curriculum developments at IUB. 
  • When: Friday, March 28, 8 a.m. 
  • Where: E-House | 704 E. 10th St. 
  • RSVP Required | Interested faculty should email Emilie Rex (ekrex@indiana.edu)
April 2014: 
  • What: Meeting with 2014 Sustainability Course Development Fellowship awardees and previous award winners to discuss best practices and prepare for the coming year. 
  • When: TBD
  • Where: TBD
  • Session closed to SCDF recipients. 
May 2014: 
  • What: 3-day workshop focused on transdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to sustainability. Keynote lecture: Geoff Chase, sustainability curriculum expert, San Diego State University 
  • When: Week of May 12th 
  • Where: TBD 
  • Session closed to workshop attendees. 
About the SCoP

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The Sustainability Community of Practice convenes for summer seminars and ongoing meetings to enhance the pedagogical efforts of this emerging community of sustainability scholars. Creating this community in which faculty gain a firm foundation in one another’s approaches to sustainability and meaningful differences will require the creation of a growing faculty cohort over the course of several years. These activities are designed to facilitate cross-department interaction and coordination through discussions of research-based sustainability learning principles.

As students explore sustainability we will experiment with ways to motivate them to combine disciplinary expertise with transdisciplinary perspectives, and assess whether they have mastered crucial operations defined in the previous educational levels. Faculty will share results with a wide audience, including instructors of sustainability courses, general science courses, departments, and instructors in many fields who teach similar kinds of transdisciplinary thinking, such as the use of diverse kinds of data and consideration of alternative viewpoints. This Sustainability Community of Practice will help develop a consensus for threshold concepts and teaching approaches that are crucial to the success of the new degree program. Building on the success of IU’s Office of Service-Learning, and the sustainability-oriented service-learning experience of the Office of Sustainability, the Community will also help establish methods of integrating service-learning into the academic framework of the new degree program, and the ways of knowing that service learning might offer.

Previous SCoP Meetings

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  • May 2013 3-Day Curriculum Workshop
    • Description: The first 3-day May workshop convened a group of 13 faculty who teach sustainability-related courses for a broad discussion about pedagogical approaches to sustainability. Facilitators Lisa Sideris, Joan Middendorf and Michael Hamburger used the Decoding the Disciplines framework to help faculty unpack where students get stuck and develop metaphors for helping them through bottleneck concepts. The conversation wrapped up with a design exercise, engaging faculty in creating a new intro course on sustainability.
    • Attendees: Simon Brassell (Geol Sci), Bill Brown (IUOS), Jim Capshew (HPS), Laura Carpenter (CITL), Tom Evans (Geography), James Farmer (SPH), Michael Hamburger (Geol Sci), Vicky Meretsky (SPEA), Joan Middendorf (CITL), Rasul Mowatt (SPH), Emilie Rex (IUOS), Jen Meta Robinson (CMCL), Jonathan Schlesinger (History), Peggy Schultz (Biology), Lisa Sideris (Rel Studies), and Catherine Tucker (Anthro). Special Guests: Bennet Brabson (Physics) & Scott Russell Sanders (English)
    • Download the Agenda | View the Slideshow
  • November 2013 Community Meeting
    • The November meeting included conversations about core competencies in sustainability education and common core course content, lasting approximately 1 1/2 hours and be followed by a reception.
    • Download the Agenda
Resources

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  1. The updated proposal for the BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.
  2. Key Competencies in Sustainability   By Wiek et al.
  3. U.S. Higher Education Environmental Program Managers' Perspectives   By Vincent and Focht. Please focus on pages 169-179.
  4. Report on Peer Institutions.
  5. An excerpt from Environmental Literacy. By Heather Reynolds, Jen Robinson, et al. 
  6. Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation. By Al-Hallaj et al.
  7. Teaching Sustainability 101: How Do We Structure an Introductory Course? Roundtable discussion moderated by Tom Schrand.
  8. Key Competencies (Combined Examples).