GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 39-7
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


MARTINEZ, Jessica, College of Education & Human Development, Honors College, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, GROSSMAN, Sabrina, CEISMIC, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30308 and VISAGGI, Christy C., Geosciences, Georgia State University, PO Box 3965, Atlanta, GA 30302,

In Georgia, pre-service elementary teachers receive a general science methods course focused on creating and implementing strong science units based on k-5 standards. They also receive two semesters of integrated science courses (ISCI) to strengthen the students’ content knowledge in various sciences (astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics) and help increase their efficacy in expanding the standards’ criteria. These courses highlight the connections between content and sustainability as well as an interconnectedness of biotic and abiotic systems, but they do not effectively emphasize the relationship of sustainability to other subjects in the curriculum. Thus, teachers do not transfer concepts related to sustainability into their classrooms.

The public is not prepared nor willing to confront issues related to sustainability. We argue for the crucial need for teacher preparation programs to establish deep-rooted connections to sustainability within all offered courses. Through the integration of sustainability into all courses as can be applied through place-based learning, new teachers will most likely transfer this knowledge successfully to their students in developing a culture of sustainability in their classroom. This culture takes time to develop, must emphasize the implications of sustainability beyond science; thus, calling for the argument of its integration in all subjects.

For example, in addressing Atlanta’s traffic problem and limited public transportation, various science, math, and social studies standards are addressed. Within an aquaponics and urban gardening discussion, teachers include standards relating to chemical and physical processes and other math and science concepts. As students propose solutions and critically evaluate current approaches, they learn the process necessary for change. Reading comprehension is reinforced as students read about sustainable solutions to analyze the effects of such approaches on individuals and the environment. Writing standards are covered as students contact public officials to advocate for implementation of their proposed solutions. Students learn geography skills as they locate sources of pollution and track the movement of trash. It is time for a paradigm shift in education; the fate of our future depends on this shift.