Student Sustainability Projects

Daniel Soto

24 July 2017

Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Participants recognize elements of successful student sustainability projects
  • Participants brainstorm possible projects and participants for their own communities

Outline

  • Motivation: Sustainability and Education
  • Theory: Elements of Authentic Student Projects
  • Application: Case Studies

Sustainability and You

  • What does sustainability mean for you.
  • How about your students?
  • How about your institution?

Motivation

Why Education and Sustainability?

  • Why should sustainability be a focus of the curriculum or co-curriculum?
  • Schools prepare our next generations of citizens.
  • Sustainability is an issue of intergenerational equity.
  • Claim: It is natural for schools to practice and promote sustainability in the long-term interest of their students.

Multiple Institutional Missions

  • Institutions often have multiple goals that could compete for time and attention.
  • Examples:
    • Providing disciplinary content and teaching soft skills
    • Standardized testing and inquiry-based learning
  • Do you have other examples?

The Sustainability Dual Mission

  • As we consider sustainability at SSU we are considering the dual mission of
    • Cultivating sustainability competencies in our students
    • Lowering resource use on our campus
  • How do we simultaneously meet both of these goals?
  • Are they mutually exclusive?

Authentic Projects

  • Claim: Authentic projects that use students to help meet local sustainability goals can simultaneously meet these two objectives.
  • Authentic projects have sufficient relevance and tangible impact to motivate and engage students.
  • The challenge is to define, create, and administer these projects within the constraints of your institution.

Elements of Authentic Projects

  • A clear statement of the desired learning and institutional outcomes
  • Clear roles for all participants (students, teachers, staff, administrators, community members)
  • Adequate time, space, and resources for the participants
  • Claim: Adding sustained workload to any participant is unsustainable.

Questions

  • Do you see similar dual missions at your home institutions?
  • Does your institution have sustainability as a value?
  • Who are your likely participants in projects?

ETC Tour

Overview

  • The ETC Building was funded through an NSF grant to create a classroom laboratory for green buildings.
  • State of the art technologies were chosen as design elements.
  • Our energy related classes use the building as a laboratory for classroom exercises on energy use.

Case Study: Student Energy Projects

Vision and Mission

  • Vision: A world where resource abundance is created through the careful matching of supply and demand by thoughtful leaders
  • Mission: Students using digital data from the campus on resource use identify and propose opportunities for efficiency and monitor the effectiveness of interventions

Participants and Contributions

  • CSU provided grant for curriculum development and data-logging equipment
  • One faculty member pursued and administered grant
  • One faculty member developed curriculum and taught class
  • One staff member coordinated the installation of equipment and the delivery of data
  • The department counts this class toward the degree.
  • Community volunteers provided coaching and expertise to students.

Outcomes

  • A class was updated to better reflect the skills that students need to develop in computational literacy and energy efficiency.
  • Students take class for credit where they investigate energy questions on campus.
  • Students present their work at our spring campus research symposium.
  • One student project quantifying energy savings from automatic light sensors was presented to our campus facilities leadership.

Difficulties

  • I didn't anticipate the difficulty in coaching students to identify interesting research questions.
  • Not all data sources were as available and organized as students hoped.

Questions

  • What about this case study could be relevant at your institution?

Case Study: Garden Classroom

Vision and Mission

  • Global Vision: A global agricultural system that simultaneously promotes universal human and environmental health.
  • Local Mission: SSU students producing food and knowledge to address food equity issues in the surrounding community.

Participants and Contributions

  • Students, student organizations, and service learning opportunities provide labor
  • One faculty member provides coordination as part of university service
  • One faculty member provides agro-ecological expertise as part of teaching
  • SSU provides Instructionally Related Activities Grant to fund assistants and supplies

Outcomes

  • The garden serves as a classroom for a 2-unit class during fall and spring.
  • Student assistants harvest and deliver produce to a local food bank.
  • Garden Classroom Webpage

Difficulties

  • We have an expertise gap during the summer, since there are no classes or instructors.
  • Coordinating sufficient student effort to maintain the garden is challenging.
  • There are garden maintenance tasks which don't always have a clear owner.

Questions

  • What about this case study could be relevant at your institution?

Brainstorming Potential Projects

Vision and Mission

  • What sustainability values and visions exist in your education communities?
  • How could these connect to authentic student projects?

Participants and Contributions?

  • What participants are available in your institution and community?
  • What resources are potentially available?

Outcomes

  • What are the learning outcomes?
  • What are the other tangible results?

Difficulties

  • Do you anticipate any difficulties?
  • Do all the participants have the time, space, resources, and energy to participate?

Resources

Resources