Webinar: Teaching Systems Thinking to Fill the Climate Literacy Gap

Thu, Jun 1, 2017 12:15 PM – 1:45 PM CDT
Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2157232300557877507

What will it take to produce a workforce that understands the relationships between environmental, social, and business factors so we can better address the risks of climate change in the coming years? A number of interrelating systems comprise each factor so incorporating systems thinking into the public and private educational systems should result in graduates better prepared to understand the interrelationships and make or contribute to better climate decisions and policies.

In this 90 minute webinar join leaders from education, business and philanthropy as they discuss:

  1. The validity of the climate literacy gap and its impact on the workforce
  2. Existing and emerging ways to teach systems thinking about climate disruptions, mitigation, adaptation and risk management
  3. Concepts for developing the national/international capacity to support climate literacy
  4. The role of philanthropy in accelerating deployment
  5. How community colleges can be at the center of better preparing the workforce for climate risk decisions

Webinar: Rethinking Thinking about Sustainability Curriculum

June 7 from 2:00-3:00 pm CDT
Register at http://www.aashe.org/calendar/rethinking-thinking-sustainability-curriculum/

If a snap of the fingers could reverse the environmental destruction of the past 400 years, we would start repeating our mistakes tomorrow, unless we have changed. The environmental crisis is a symptom of human thinking and we need to think differently to resolve it. Split brain science is explained from major findings of “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” (2009, Yale University Press), by psychiatrist and clinical psychologist Iain McGilchrist, which provides profound insight into the workings of the human brain from combining clinical research in split brain science with its evidence in western history and philosophy. This remarkable book explains how dominant thinking has deluded society into its current predicament, warns of the dangers involved and what Einstein meant. Christopher Haines will discuss implementing these insights into higher education curriculum on sustainable development, with examples from the author’s experience. This session will be interesting to anyone concerned with environmental curriculum that will effectively address problems.


College Dorms May Contain High Levels of Toxins

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Parents have enough to worry about when sending their 18-year-old freshman off to college, but a new study shows some dormitories may contain high levels of toxic flame retardants.

The Silent Spring study, which looked at two U.S. college campuses in the northeast, showed that dust samples taken in dorms contain carcinogens, hormone disruptors and chemicals from dozens of flame retardants.

Nitrogen Pollution: An Emerging Focus of Campus Sustainability Efforts

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

Many colleges and universities are working to transition toward sustainability in their academic programs, operations and engagement with communities. A major emphasis of their efforts has been reducing the environmental harms associated with campus operations. Typical initiatives include reducing emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases; reducing consumption of energy, water and other resources; building ‘green’ buildings; purchasing ecologically and socially preferable food and other products; and reducing waste generation and disposal in landfills.

While many of these initiatives can and do reduce nitrogen pollution, this has not been a significant or deliberate focus of college and university sustainability programs. That may be changing.

Volunteers flip this corner of campus for a ‘natural’ makeover

Read the full story at the ISTC Blog.

After two years a project to invigorate 22 acres near Windsor and Lincoln at the University of Illinois is bringing the plot closer to its “natural” state.

This high profile territory had become a thicket of brambles, invasive species, and dead plants. “I became disgusted,” said John Marlin, a research associate at Illinois Sustainable Technology Center who leads the project. “I drive by it every day on the way home. The honeysuckle was so thick that it was difficult to see more than five feet into the woods.  The understory was shaded to the point that virtually nothing grew at ground level.”

Educational sustainability doctorate offered at UW-Stevens Point

UW-Stevens Point has a long history as a leader in sustainability practices. With a widely respected School of Education and a nationally known College of Natural Resources, it is an ideal home for a doctoral program in educational sustainability.

The program – the first Ed.D. in Educational Sustainability in the country and the first standalone doctorate offered at UW-Stevens Point – takes sustainability to a deeper level.

“When you hear ‘sustainability,’ you think of recycle, reuse and resource conservation. That’s just one aspect,” said Joy Kcenia O’Neil, assistant professor and director of Educational Sustainability at UW-Stevens Point. This program defines sustainability as an interconnected process that cultivates integrity and well-being for human and natural systems.

“This means educating about sustainability is not enough; our program will challenge students to educate for sustainability and as sustainability in their studies and professional practice,” O’Neil said.  Participants will practice understanding and responding to problems in economic, ecological and social justice contexts, in ways that promote sustainability.

Graduates will be leaders in sustainable change in education, the environment, business and communities. “Educational sustainability students will learn how to be agents of change in the world,” O’Neil said.

“The program is designed to turn your passion for education and sustainability into a career that will improve our world,” said Marty Loy, dean of the College of Professional Studies. “This is the most significant milestone since the School of Education was formed.”

Social and economic systems are inextricably linked to life support systems on the planet, O’Neil explained.  “These systems are in flux and we can no longer think about them in isolation. For example, what may be an environmental problem upstream of a watershed quickly becomes a social justice concern downstream. And let’s not forget the economics of the situation.”

A more holistic approach is needed for today’s more complex problems, O’Neil said. She completed her Ph.D in sustainability education and master’s and bachelor’s in water resource management and environmental science.

The educational sustainability curriculum has three areas of focus:

  • Sustaining learning environments
  • Sustaining civic and business communities
  • Sustaining educational systems

Course work takes sustainability learning and leadership theories and puts them into practice that will encourage students to innovate, engage and take action. Graduates will be able to transform educational systems, design ways to consider sustainable use of natural resources, foster citizen engagement and build or repurpose businesses and economies.

“This doctoral degree is applicable to many working professionals and equips people with knowledge and skills to tackle some of society’s most challenging circumstances,” said Pam Bork, director of graduate studies and professional development in UW-Stevens Point’s School of Education.

“Now more than ever, we need to restore our human and natural systems,” O’Neil said. Leaders completing this doctoral degree will be prepared for such roles as helping an educational nonprofit build sustainable learning environments, develop sustainability curriculum for an elementary school or university, guide a corporation to operationalize sustainability practices; or lead a business toward organizational change.

The program is almost completely online. One of the program highlights is to connect with local, national and global community projects through the applied residency course. It also fits well with UW-Stevens Point’s Partnership for Thriving Communities initiative, O’Neil said.

More than 60 people from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and careers across the country have already inquired about it, she said. “We will come together to build systems of teaching and learning as one way to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time.”

For more information, visit www.uwsp.edu/eddsustainability.

University of Illinois to offer Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Writing

The Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Writing (CEW) is a new offering for University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students wanting to engage the latest research in sustainability science — and to build their skills in environmental communication.

The Certificate is a joint venture of iSEE, the School for Earth, Society, and Environment, and the English Department…

The motto of the CEW is “turning data into narrative” — learning about the latest scientific research on the environment and how to communicate that research effectively to the public.