Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology

Download the case study science lesson.

This case study examines a variety of biological factors that may have been involved in the 2013 dolphin “unusual mortality event” (UME) on the East Coast of the United States. The story follows a news reporter and four different scientists who are preparing their notes for speaking at a public hearing about the dolphin die-off event. After reading the story, students assume the roles of these scientists and use the jigsaw method to gather, analyze, and share information.  Due to the interdisciplinary nature of environmental toxicology, this case study exposes students to four main topics: ecology of ecosystems, endocrine system/chemical messaging, immune system function, and virus biology. The case also emphasizes the importance of considering an issue from multiple viewpoints since even scientists can sometimes be biased to their field of interest when proposing explanatory hypotheses. This case was originally designed for an undergraduate introductory biology or environmental science course. With some adaptation it may also be suitable for an advanced high school biology class.

Marine Debris & Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit for Colleges & Universities

Download the document.

Many plastic food service ware items originate on  college and university campuses — in cafeterias, snack rooms, cafes, and eateries with take-out dining options. That’s why we created this Campus Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit. The toolkit was piloted at three University of California (UC) campuses–Santa Barbara (UCSB), San Diego (UCSD), and San Francisco (UCSF) — but we designed each of these steps to be replicable and easily implemented by other colleges and universities around the country. By following the steps in the toolkit, you can help your college or university reduce plastic waste through source reduction–the process of minimizing the amount of plastic used. Together, we can cut down on plastic waste and reduce the amount of marine debris polluting the planet’s oceans and waterways.

A Reason to Be Optimistic: The New Generation of Sustainability Professionals

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

The task before sustainability educators is to take the inspiring energy and enthusiasm of our students and channel it into an effort to develop the conceptual and analytic tools needed to conduct high quality management and policy analyses. I’ve been involved in this work for many years and I find that while my students often start their studies as advocates and activists, many complete their studies as analysts and professionals. They still care deeply about the planet and its wellbeing, but they have the tools to speak truth to power and to even achieve power themselves.

AASHE Sustainability Awards Call for Applications

Applications for the Tenth Annual AASHE Sustainability Awards are now being accepted through June 11. During the past ten years, AASHE has recognized leaders from over 60 campuses from across the U.S. and Canada for outstanding ideas and initiatives that are furthering the higher education sustainability transformation.

Award winners will receive one complimentary AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo pass, one invitation to a special reception during the 2015 conference, an opportunity to present your winning submission at the 2015 conference and during the 2016 AASHE Award Winners Webinar Series, and featured in Sustainability: Journal of Record.

There are three categories of submissions.

  • The Campus Sustainability Case Study honors campus projects at AASHE member institutions that promote sustainability in any sector including operations, education, administration and engagement.
  • The Student Research on Campus Sustainability award seeks to honor students from AASHE member institutions who are advancing the higher education sustainability transformation with focused research of any length.
  • The Student Sustainability Leadership award honors student teams from AASHE member institutions who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability efforts.

Apply today for a chance to join this celebrated group and receive recognition and complimentary registration to the AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo. Awards will be presented during the opening ceremony on Oct. 25 in Minneapolis, Minn. Application deadline is June 11, 2015.

NHL seeks sustainability on ice

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Think about a typical ice rink and all the energy and resources it requires. There is the need for lighting, restrooms, locker rooms, concessions, heating, cooling and obviously the ice. The NHL has been working to reduce its environmental impact. Many of the same efforts can also be implemented at your local rink.

AASHE Research in Sustainability Webinar Series – 2015

Our urgent sustainability challenges require integrated, cross-disciplinary thinking. By researching sustainability issues and refining theories and concepts, higher education institutions can lead the transition to a sustainable future and continue help the world understand sustainability challenges while developing new technologies, strategies, and approaches to address those challenges.

In recognition of the importance of emerging scholarship in sustainability, AASHE is pleased to announce the “Research in Sustainability” Webinar Series which precedes the 2015 AASHE Conference & Expo’s new “Research” track dedicated to workshops and presentations about sustainability-oriented research.

Through the “Research in Sustainability” Webinar Series, AASHE is inviting you to explore the current models of research in sustainability, the future of engaged sustainability education, and how to institutionalize research in sustainability. Sustainability officers, faculty, researchers, students, chief academic officers, staff of teaching and learning centers and others are invited to participate in the conversation about breaking down barriers and building coalitions to support institution-wide research in sustainability and key innovation happening in curricular and co-curricular activities. You can also email your questions and thoughts in advance to

  • Webinar #1 (May 20, 2015, 3:00-4:30PM ET) From Classroom to Community and Planet: The Future of Engaged Learning and Research in Sustainability features Rod Parnell – moderator (Professor of Earth Science & Environmental Sustainability and Coordinator of Academic Sustainability Programs at Northern Arizona University), Debra Rowe (Faculty in Sustainable Energies and Behavioral Sciences at Oakland Community College) and Steve Boss (Director of Environmental Dynamics Program and Sustainability Academic Programs at University of Arkansas). This first webinar in the series will briefly present an overview of different models of research, applied learning and community engagement in sustainability – not just learning taking place in the classroom or laboratory but engagement at various levels on campus and in the community. Panelists will also share some of the professional organizations with which they are affiliated that provide resources for improving co-curricular activities. The formal presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion with participants’ input on developing and improving community-based research and service learning. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the conversation about key innovations happening in curricular and co-curricular activities related to research in sustainability. For more information and to register, please click here.
  • Webinar #2 (June 10, 2015, 3:00-4:30PM ET) Institutionalizing Research in Sustainability in the Context of Competing University Priorities features Jacob Park – moderator (Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy at Green Mountain College), Debra Rowe (Faculty in Sustainable Energies and Behavioral Sciences at Oakland Community College) and David Auston (Executive Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a member of the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council). They will continue the conversation started in the first webinar and will focus on different models and strategies that support integrating research with operations in the light of competing university priorities and tips on institutionalizing research in sustainability. The formal presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion with participants’ input on how to break barriers, where to find allies and how to build coalitions to to support institution-wide research in sustainability. For more information and to register, please click here.

Students become ‘citizen scientists,’ track D.C.’s wildlife with cameras

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Jasmyn Hill had been attending the same charter school in Southeast Washington for five years before she ever ventured into the woods that surround the campus.

“I had no idea what was in there,” said the 16-year-old junior with long turquoise nails and waist-length braids. She described herself as “not really the type who goes camping.”

But the city kid joined a “Green Team” at her school, and she now spends afternoons taking walks in the woods to learn about what lives there. She also helps set up cameras to record the wildlife. The experience has kindled an interest in environmental science, she said.

Hill and other students at the SEED Public Charter School are joining a growing army of “citizen scientists” who are gathering data about wildlife for the Smithsonian collection, information and images that can be used for scientific research and conservation efforts.