2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
Paper No. 224-7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM-9:45 AM

WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY AND HOW DO WE TEACH IT?

VOORHEES, David H., Earth Science / Geology Department, Waubonsee Community College, Rt 47 @ Waubonsee Dr, Sugar Grove, IL 60554, dvoorhees@waubonsee.edu

As an interdisciplinary issue, sustainability presents some unique problems and challenges for geo/earth-science educators. Sustainability was originally broadly defined by the Brundtland Commission in 1987 as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, but it has evolved to take on different meanings in different disciplines and venues. Clearly, the geo/earth-sciences play a significant role in the understanding of the importance of sustainability to our students. An Earth systems approach to teaching sustainability would include topics such as climate change, natural resources (geologic and energy), cycles (water, carbon), and waste management, but it is also clear it is not the only discipline that is important to this understanding. Other critical issues to defining sustainability include population, ecosystems, environmental integrity, economics, politics, psychology, to name a few. An analysis of an inventory of sustainability courses listed on the AASHE website reveals that it is taught in various ways in over 26 different disciplines. This analysis also revealed that most of the courses listed as pertaining to sustainability are in fact some component of the overall concept, where the ultimate development of the total concept of sustainability is left to the student. How many of these interdisciplinary variations and nuances of sustainability do we, or should we, address in our geo/earth-science classes? Is sustainability truly an earth/geo-science class, or should it only be offered as an interdisciplinary class? Finally, what kinds of credible and appropriate resources (i.e., textbooks, internet sites, and exercises) are available to teach sustainability, and at what grade level? Waubonsee teaches 2 sustainability classes that use faculty from multiple disciplines.

2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 224
Geoscience Education III: Professional Development and Resources
Colorado Convention Center: Room 201
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 531

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