46. The Loma Prieta Center for Sustainability Education, Science, & Workforce Development
Human actions have placed many aspects of our environment and civilization in danger: the
availability of natural resources, diversity of species, the health of oceans and atmosphere and
the Earth’s climate, not to mention the well-being and welfare of billions of people. Creating
the sustainable, built environments to meet these challenges requires new technologies to
reduce dependency on non-renewable resources as well as the political, economic, social and
psychological capacity to bring the necessary technologies and associated practices into the
mainstream. This can only happen through radical transformations in institutions of higher
education and research.
To these ends, faculty from a group of institutions in Central California, and hailing from a broad range of disciplines (see end notes), have established the Loma Prieta Center for Sustainability Education, Science and Workforce Development, with the goals of:
•Building capacity for sustainability education, disseminating sustainability curricula, modules and labs to participating institutions and faculty, and deploying real-time, distance-learning systems for sharing sustainability-related courses;
•Developing and supporting research focused on sustainability science and engineering, investigating the social science aspects and implications of sustainability policies and sustainable systems, and pursuing “sustainable systems research and development;” and
•Creating the infrastructure for development of the green workforce of the future, trained in interdisciplinary sustainability analysis and problem solving, and facilitating establishment of businesses, agencies and institutions necessary for a sustainable future.
The Loma Prieta Center’s faculty members draw on tried-and-tested, innovative, imaginative curricula and research projects developed by its affiliates, based on many years of pedagogy, research and action on sustainability. The Center aims to provide educator training, faculty consultations, curriculum development and project formulation and implementation. With the acknowledgement of mutual interest in advancing sustainability education, the Center’s faculty members have identified several major capacities and functions that, through collaboration, will exceed what can be accomplished on any individual campus alone. These include:
1.Community College – University pathways: Collaborative development of interdisciplinary curricula and degree pathways, including articulation between community college and university course requirements, that capitalize on distributed expertise and resources;
2.Exchange of curriculum modules: Support for adapting new curricula and teaching materials to meet the alternative needs of diverse student populations at different campuses;
3.Course-sharing through on-line and real-time instruction among participating institutions;
4.Establishment of a “lending Library” of measuring, monitoring and experimenting equipment needed to conduct hands-on learning activities and laboratory exercises;
5.Internship umbrella: Launch of and support for cross-site “field based” and “service-learning” projects that position students to apply, in integrative ways, their newly-acquired content and process knowledge to the technological, humanistic and societal aspects of real-world scenarios and situations;
6.Connecting academic institutions and industry in Central California, especially Silicon Valley;
7.Outcome-linked education: Articulation of commensurate learning outcomes and development and implementation of performance-based assessment tools and evaluation methods for use in sustainability-related courses and curricula;
8.Information-sharing across institutions, through a web-based clearinghouse providing information on and access to course materials, projects and publications, publicizing availability of new facilities and opportunities fro students and faculty, reporting on advances in research & technology; etc.);
9.Creation of advanced career services and networking in sustainability science and engineering for students and recent alumni, especially through expanded network for internships and placements;
10.Faculty-oriented professional development programs, networks and pedagogy that support development and deployment of interdisciplinary sustainability curricula and research and foster various modes of on-line and real-time distance learning.
LPC Current Member Colleges & Representatives:
Community colleges: Hartnell (Mike Thomas, Melissa Hornstein, Thomas Rettenwender), Cabrillo (Susan Tappero, Karen Groppi, Michelle Merrill), Foothill (Robert Cormia, Jamie Orr, Oxana Pantchenko);
California State Universities: San Jose (Thalia Anagnos, Dustin Mulvaney, Hilary Nixon), Monterey Bay (Daniel Fernandez);
University of California campuses: Merced (J. Elliott Campbell), Santa Cruz (Tamara Ball, Michael Isaacson, Ben Crow, Ronnie Lipschutz, Sue Carter, James Barsiamentov, Melanie DuPuis,)
Disciplines Represented: Engineering, Sociology, Politics, Education, Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Physics, Applied Physics, Chemistry, English, Science & Environmental Policy, Architecture, Urban Planning and Mathematics.
Why it should be recognized:
Coming generations of college graduates must be able to address complex issues that stretch across scientific and professional environments (Jacobson & Wilensky 2006; Roehler et al. 1998; Spelt et al. 2009).To meet these needs, a more collaborative, broad-based, and imaginative
education will be required. We can no longer rely on accomplished intellectuals, working in isolation, to deliver curricula through the kind of “sage on the stage” model that remains so ubiquitous. Preparation of the 21st century workforce for the kind of interdisciplinary challenges confronting us requires learning and research opportunities and projects, in alternative educational environments, that bring together diverse and innovative individuals. Moreover, sustainability curricula must be inspired by systems-based thinking*, incorporating STEM training within a problem-based approach that trains the green workforce to tackle tough technological tasks.
*Systems thinking recognizes that “the properties and modes of action at higher levels are not explicable by the summation of properties and modes of action taken in isolation” (Bertalanffy, 1972).