Teaching Sustainability

Last Wednesday, I joined Joe Zietsman (Texas A&M), Damon Fordham (Cadmus), and Ann Xu (Georgia Tech) in New York for a discussion of Education and Practitioner Training to Promote Sustainability. We were invited to speak at the TRB ADC60 summer conference on Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure.

To prepare for my presentation on “Teaching Sustainable Development/Transportation in Institutions of Higher Education,” I reviewed the past decade of research captured in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. I also read papers from journals such as Sustainability Science and the Journal of Cleaner Production. For those new to this subject area, I recommend the following articles that provide useful frameworks or discuss important pedagogical approaches:

BrainstormingAfter absorbing this material, I tried to visually capture the various approaches, theories, competence areas, etc. that emerged (see photo). This visual patchwork of ideas laid the foundation for my presentation that focused on the following four questions:

  • —What knowledge and skills do students need to learn?
  • —How should we promote ‘Sustainability in Higher Education’ (SHE) – e.g., top down vs. bottom up?
  • —How do we change the hearts and minds of faculty?
  • —What should be the role of non-academic entities – e.g., government agencies, private businesses, and NGOs?

While I was only able to briefly respond to these questions in my presentation (below), the literature I cite on my slides (and listed above) should provide a useful starting point for anyone interested in learning more about theories on how to teach sustainability.



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