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ERIC Number: EJ1159790
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1467-6370
Assessing Sustainability Curriculum: From Transmissive to Transformative Approaches
Gaard, Greta C.; Blades, Jarod; Wright, Mary
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v18 n7 p1263-1278 2017
Purpose: This paper aims to describe a two-stage sustainability curriculum assessment, providing tools and strategies for other faculty to use in implementing their own sustainability assessments. Design/methodology/approach: In the first stage of the five-year curriculum assessment, the authors used an anonymous survey of sustainability faculty and requested data that would verify the survey's self-reporting: updated sustainability syllabi, and answers to the question, "where have you integrated the three aspects of sustainability--biological systems, social systems, economic systems--into this course?" Finding that the self-reporting results did not match the evidence on the syllabi, the authors interrogated their methods from the faculty workshop trainings for sustainability curriculum transformation. Findings: The authors' workshops had not provided clear definitions for "sustainability" and the learning outcomes expected in sustainability courses. They had also not addressed the role of transformative pedagogy in teaching a holistic approach to sustainability. The research identified and transcended five key barriers to implementing sustainability curriculum: an over-reliance on faculty volunteers, unclear and unenforced expectations about sustainability implementations, a failure to recognize and circumvent institutional and philosophical barriers to teaching sustainability's interdisciplinary approach through disciplinary-based curriculum, conceiving of sustainability pedagogy as transmission rather than transformation, and overlooking the ecology of educational systems as nested within the larger sociopolitical environment. Research limitations/implications: This study confirms the limitations of faculty self-reporting unless augmented with verifiable data. Practical implications: Sustainability educators can use this research to devise curriculum or program assessment on their campuses: the mixed-methods approach to data collection, the inquiry into sustainability workshop trainings, the elements required on sustainability syllabi for building a coherent sustainability studies program, the resources for practicing a transformative sustainability pedagogy, and the barriers to sustainability implementation along with strategies for surmounting these barriers will all be of use. Originality/value: This paper explores and combats root causes for an all-too-common disconnection between positive faculty self-assessment and syllabi that do not fully integrate sustainability across the disciplines.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Georgia (Atlanta)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A