Here are summaries of some of our work in sustainability education.
We have worked with school districts, colleges, and universities around the country. We also provide webinars and workshops for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
If you would like longer case studies, just ask – we are happy to share our reports, evaluations, and all that we’ve learned.
RESULTS WITH HIGHER EDUCATION
Our work in higher education focuses on helping faculty integrate sustainability across the curriculum while supporting institutions to develop change at the program level. Here are some examples:
SUSTAINABLE COURSE DESIGN AT UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, PAN AMERICAN
What happens when you mix talented faculty, visionary leaders and a dynamic culture? You get Project Sin Fronteras (“without borders”) , a professional development program to infuse sustainability concepts and practices into the curriculum at the University of Texas Pan American and Brownsville campuses.
Creative Change was a part of this program and worked with an energetic group of faculty to integrate sustainability into a range of courses. Using our Inquiry as Narrative approach to course design, we guided participants through the process of creating or revising a course syllabus.
In this region along the US-Mexican border, language and culture play significant roles in sustainability. Discussions went far beyond environmental issues, with faculty integrating social justice and community engagement into a range of courses including marketing, social work, philosophy, nursing and history.
“Faculty proclaimed your session as one of the best pedagogy workshops they had ever attended,” says Amy Hay, one of the program organizers.
TEACHER EDUCATION AT 10 UNIVERSITIES & COLLEGES
Practicing teachers and education students entering the field feel the anxiety brought about by the upheaval in our K12 systems. We help them understand that times of dramatic change can also be times of great opportunity. By working with colleges of education, we provide pre- and in-service teachers proven pedagogy and rich resources to bring effective, integrated instruction to their classrooms. In doing so, we provide real hope for making a tangible difference in students’ lives and communities. Here are some examples:
- We’ve been working with San Jose State University since 2011 to support pre- and in-service teacher education programs to integrate sustainability.
- Our work with in-service teachers has focused on the Bay Area Earth Science Institute (BAESI), a comprehensive year-round professional development program for teachers of grades 4-12. Our Curriculum Resource Center serves as a source of materials for the in-service teachers as they learn sustainability content and bring the topics into their science classrooms.
- We’ve also been supporting SJSU’s pre-service elementary certification program by helping professors integrate sustainability into required courses in social foundations and science and social studies methods. course.
- Located in the heart of Detroit, Marygrove College has a strong commitment to community revitalization and social justice. To bring these issues into the teacher education program, we designed two graduate-level courses: Teaching for Sustainability, and Educating for Sustainable Food Systems.
- Supporting teacher educators at multiple universities (ongoing): We’re working with a cohort of teacher education professors from multiple universities to integrate sustainability content and methods into a variety of courses. Universities include Eastern Michigan University (EMU), Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Cincinnati, SUNY Fredonia, Northeastern University (Boston), and Florida Gulf Coast University. Participating professors teach a wide range of courses including science, math, and social studies methods; social foundations; educational psychology; literacy and language; and educational policy.
- Creative Change has collaborated with Eastern Michigan University’s Social Foundations of Education Program (2003-2008) to offer graduate courses for practicing teachers. Courses wre offered as part of the Social Foundations EcoJustice Education Concentration in the Department of Teacher Education. Courses offered:
- Teaching Ecological Economics: This course introduced the field of ecological economics and presented strategies for teaching it with the goal of fostering an integrated ecological, economic, and civic literacy.
- Teaching for Sustainability: In this course, teachers developed develop strategies and materials to engage students as scholars and citizens in vital economic, social, and ecological issues. Participants developed interdisciplinary units and lessons that met standards, promoted critical thinking, and connected students to the community.
INTERDISCIPLINARY INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN AT NORTH CENTRAL MICHIGAN COLLEGE
To support course development, we provided an on-site program focused on instructional design. Using our Inquiry as Narrative approach, faculty reframed their syllabi to be more interdisciplinary and focused on community problem-solving. For example, a team of three professors developed a course that links economics, philosophy and environmental science, and incorporates student research on local ecosystems.
Participant Seamus Norgaard expressed the enthusiasm of the participants. “Creative Change provided valuable insights and materials, as well as masterful guidance and facilitation for our faculty, as we strove to develop meaningful interdisciplinary curricula for students.”
RESULTS WITH K12
OBERLIN, OHIO – DISTRICT-WIDE INTEGRATION OF SUSTAINABILTY
When the Oberlin City Schools decided to integrate sustainability district-wide, they knew they needed to align it with Ohio standards and the district’s International Baccalaureate program. It was a big challenge, and they turned to Creative Change for guidance. Since 2012, we’ve provided planning, curriculum, and professional development to embed sustainability content and teaching approaches in all grade levels and disciplines. Community engagement is a key element of the work. Teachers have developed service learning projects focused on food systems, energy, and waste reduction in partnership with The Oberlin Project, a regional sustainability effort led by renowned educator David Orr.
- Second graders examined the relationship between human and natural systems in the local economy.
- Ninth grade math students used linear functions and doubling time to explore resource use and population.
- High school English Language Arts students investigated the food system as a platform for literacy and writing.
The new lessons engaged over 500 students in investigations of community sustainability, the food system, the local economy, and the interdependence of social and ecological systems. Students tested regional waterways, got involved with local food projects and made presentations to the community. They learned from sustainability efforts in the region and discovered how they are connected to the larger world.
Request the report detailing the first year of the initiative.
WASHTENAW TECHNICAL MIDDLE COLLEGE
Located in Ann Arbor, MI, Washtenaw Technical Middle College (WTMC) is a unique high school that provides students with college coursework through its chartering agency, Washtenaw Community College. All graduates complete either an associate degree or a technical certificate in a career area.
WTMC developed an interdisciplinary 9th grade program focused on sustainability that was piloted in the 2012-13 school year. The program was structured as a series of in-depth investigations on food systems. In the first year, the program drew twenty-eight students from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Teachers also noted a wide range in political and religious philosophies among the students.
To support the program, Creative Change provided teachers with a fully-developed module on food and energy systems. This module, available in Creative Change’s online Curriculum Resource Center, served as the basis of the course. Creative Change also provided on-site professional development and on-going assistance as teachers implemented the course. Supported by the module, students investigated the environmental, economic, and social aspects of the food system, and developed strategies to advance sustainability.
The teachers focused on the following areas in their disciplines:
- Science: energy in food systems; life cycle analysis
- English Language Arts: communication, rhetoric, literacy, vocabulary, critical analysis of media
- Social studies: history of the food system, governance and citizen involvement, healthy food access, economics of food, perceptions and mindsets about food (e.g., comparing Depression-era focus on growing and conserving food to current patterns of consumption and waste).
In 2014, Newsweek designated WTMC as one of the top ten high schools in the nation, citing its sustainability work.
Contact us for the first year evaluation report for this initiative.
Get examples and strategies for effective change.
Download case studies on curriculum transformation.
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