INNOVATING FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN "THE BEST GEOSCIENCE CLASS I'VE EVER TAKEN"
Through readings and conversations we explored criteria used to define sustainability including planetary boundaries, the UN sustainable development goals, and doughnut economics. To establish trust and promote creative freedom in a remote classroom we focused on class values and effective communication. For the sustainable product innovation project, students were tasked with creatively rethinking consumer goods and services and quantitatively redesigning them using environmental, economic, and societal sustainability criteria. Students developed system maps illustrating the life-cycle of a product from raw materials to disposal and used this map to brainstorm solutions to improve sustainability. They quantitatively evaluated how combinations of novel materials, manufacturing, and transportation could reduce product energy consumption. A final decision matrix balanced the team's business and sustainability goals. Students enjoyed exploring these uncertainties, where they defined the terms to the “right answer.” However, they also self-reported lacking the creativity or business skills to continue the work beyond the classroom. In the future, we plan to integrate more design and business role models and hold meetings in a makerspace to spark creativity through prototyping. Overall, students valued the authentic focus on sustainability and one student commented that this was the best geoscience course they had ever taken.