Penn State’s new Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability makes it easier than ever for faculty to discover, implement and share sustainability curriculum. Visitors can find assignments created by their peers and connect with faculty and other sustainability champions across the Penn State community and beyond.
The project was initiated by retired Mont Alto professor Jim Hamilton and piloted through a collaboration between the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.
“My original intent was to provide a place where both faculty and staff could go to facilitate teaching about sustainability at Penn State,” said Hamilton.
“You see, I consider everyone (professors, cleaning staff, purchasing agents, cooks, groundskeepers… everyone) to have stake in teaching our students, ourselves and each other about how to make Penn State, our lives and the world more humanely sustainable," Hamilton said.
"Penn State defines sustainability as ‘the simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations,” said Denice Wardrop, director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.
"Using the Field Guide, faculty are encouraged to use this definition as a framework for students to deepen their personal understanding of sustainability, which can guide their behaviors in their personal and professional lives."
Visitors to the “Assignments” page can search by a type, topic, discipline, course and sustainability competency. Syllabi and semester-long projects on climate change and low-energy homes, in-class exercises on environmental ethics and multimedia projects on nature or sustainability issues are a few of the many available compiled assignments. Faculty in English, education, engineering and ecology have all contributed. Because the Sustainability Institute wants to maximize the interactivity and integration of sustainability education, visitors can also share their assignments.
The “Resources” page has an extensive annotated list of sustainability education resources across six categories to help guide searches: Business, Governance, & Health; Disciplinary Lenses of the Arts & Sciences; Education for Sustainability; Environmental Problems & Possibilities; Philosophy of Sustainability; and Technology. Faculty, staff and the public are encouraged to contribute resources.
The Field Guide also features a blog curated by Peter Buckland from the Sustainability Institute.
The blog includes an ongoing series on education for climate neutrality that has featured writing by faculty and experts from Penn State, Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project, the University of Delaware, George Mason University and the Climateweb. This fall, the blog has also featured a number of posts on shale gas and fracking to accompany the Penn State Reads book, Russell Gold’s The Boom. Following an introduction to fracking as an issue for Pennsylvanians, guest pieces have come fromactivist and farmer Jenny Lisak, poet Julia Kasdorf, geoscientist Terry Engelder and others. Future posts will cover social, economic and political issues including environmental justice, sex and gender equality, democracy and media, imprisonment and cultural sustainability, and consumerism.
Faculty, students and the public are encouraged to visit and contribute to The Field Guide.
“If you have something you want to share—assignments, articles or films, or you have a fresh idea on sustainability—you can make the educational soil more fertile,” said Buckland.