Review of Sustainability Pedagogy and its Application in ATEC

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The field of Arts, technology, and emerging communication is quite broad. It contains artists, designers, scientists, researchers, and reflective practitioners across multiple disciplines in collaborative activities to create new knowledge, explore the expressive possibilities, and assess the cultural impact of emerging technologies[6]. In other words, this field is interested in Intentional Future-Making [6]. In other words, this field asks questions such as, how can we design and implement a societal structure that is sustainable for both us and future generations? With current human infrastructure, it is only a matter of time before climate change, pollution, and degradation of water and soil drastically reduce the quality and richness of both human and non-human life [3]. Thus, the topic of sustainability is a vital contemporary topic in the field of ATEC. However, how does one teach sustainable values and understanding, and encourage real change within the context of a broad artistic and technological field? This review summarizes and analyzes five articles regarding teaching methods that intentionally integrates sustainable attitudes and practices.

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The main common argument among the papers that I support is that of actively involving and requiring participation and discussion, in order to facilitate impactful learning in students. On the other hand, there is also an overarching weakness that I hope can be addressed in the future, which is that there is no long term follow up for what the participants retained after the courses or workshops. I hope to teach sustainable attitudes and behavior that will be retained long term, meaning years after the class. Secondly, I wish to develop methods that will assess whether or not there was long term retainment. The following paragraphs will summarize and respond to more specific details regarding the five articles.

Hand Heart Head: Aesthetic Practice Pedagogy for Deep Sustainability Learning describes the process of using aesthetic inquiry’ of painting to foster the development of proactively empathetic leaders who possess a deep understanding of sustainability and world issues [1]. The article outlines the steps of an aesthetic inquiry’ based workshop and discusses four cases of holding the workshop. The first step of the workshop is groups of people define a selected problem and what the desired outcome is. Next, the group turns the issue into a metaphor and then paints it on a canvas. After painting, each group presents their metaphor and how it can be extended to reality and future actions. The last step is that all the groups gather together to make one final collective metaphorical painting[1].

There are two significant ideas this article provides. First, it is rich with resources containing arguments for what aesthetic inquiry’ is and why it is important as a teaching method. The second is that this article contains concepts and phrases that are beneficial for teachers to contemplate and merge with their own attitudes about teaching. Integrating playfulness into teaching method, collaboration, and creating and examining metaphors are all some of the concepts brought up. It caused me to consider how to improve teaching methods in universities. We should merge empiricism and rationality with more holistic understanding and learning. Examples of this includes Schneider, Zollo and Manocha’s insertion of meditation and reflection in teaching and Orr’s experiential learning as cited in [1]. For example, the article mentions in their methodology section that the feedback sheet given to the learners at the end of workshop consisted of questions asking for them to describe their experience. This is similar to a phenomenological research approach, which fosters a collaborative and meaningful environment for both the learner and teacher.

A shortcoming of this article is that the workshop is in the very early stages of framework development. The workshops were held only in one time sessions (4-6 hours). Consequently, there was no opportunity to build upon the first session. One session does not seem involved enough to have learners integrate the experience into their lives in depth. The article mentions in the conclusion that they would recommend further testing as well as getting a second round of feedback 6 to 12 months after the workshop [1]. The lack of time and multiple meetings makes it difficult to create an informed and educated metaphor regarding sustainability in the first place, so even if their metaphors were retained, they may not be beneficial ones.

The 3H-model’ of aesthetic inquiry’ should be implemented into a multiple-session workshop class. For example, in a critical art project class, students could be assigned to creatively express a sustainability metaphor. For example, take the classic dollhouse and turn it into a metaphor that instead of portraying the ideal American family, portrays a house that is sustainably shaped from the surrounding land, or one that utilizes water efficiently. Additionally a workshop could be formed around a topic that the group agrees on rather than something the teacher provides.

Radically different learning’: implementing sustainability pedagogy in a university peer mentor program was an article that discussed a graduate college course at Portland State University. In this course, the instructor’s framework for teaching was the BMSP, or the Burns model of sustainability pedagogy. The instructor designed the course, using the ecological design process, as follows: (1) observation, (2) visioning, (3) planning, (4) development, and (5) implementation. This process was created by Burns’ 2009 article and cited in [4]. Radically different learning’ examined how the Burns model, when implemented in a classroom setting, affected the students’ grasp of sustainability [4].

The most useful element from this article was the before and after the semester examples’ of students writing about their understanding of sustainability. These concrete examples helped me gain a perspective of how the students were changing their ways of thinking. After these writing examples, the paper discusses how the students spoke up for themselves on whether their final assignment was beneficial to their education or not, and whether the final assignment was going to be useful in mentoring other students in sustainability and college.

However, it is possible that the students voiced opinions that stemmed directly from their professor and might not necessarily reflect a deeper understanding of sustainability. The highlighted opinions voiced by the students in the article reflected the opinions voiced by the authors, who were directly involved in the class. There needs to be further investigation of the students’ thought processes. Additionally, the details of exactly how they implemented the BMSP model were lacking. For example, the specific details of experiential, participatory, service learning, and community based learning was not given. The instructor claimed to have assigned readings of multiple topics and perspectives, but none of the titles were mentioned except for one author, David Orr [4].

Pedagogy for Sustainability Science in congruence to the other articles, emphasizes the importance of how students need to be adept in systemic thinking. It discusses the definition and goal of sustainability pedagogical approaches; to help students deeply and critically analyze issues in order to create a society that is sustainable. The article is a proponent for the case study method’, but before it delves into demonstrating the types of case studies and their effectiveness, they discuss the competencies that people need in order to address local and global sustainability challenges. Then they discuss research in the fields of education and sustainability education.

The case study method not only has the ability to teach sustainability topics, but also develops the competencies needed to become critically engaged with sustainability. In other words, case studies can be used in non-sustainable related classes and still prepare the student to engage with sustainability by developing certain competencies. The competencies, dawn from Wiek et al. (2011) cited in [5], are: systems thinking, anticipatory, normative, strategic, and interpersonal. Wiek et al. (2011) emphasizes that interpersonal competency is the most crucial one of them all because it crosscuts the other competencies.

Case based approaches are defined as those that use cases that represent diverse problematic situations in real life that can be studied and analyzed and are usually reasonably complex[5]. The types of case studies are adapted from Lundberg et al. (2001) and are as follows: sustainability puzzles (team of students identify factors of issues and discuss strategies to resolve it), iceberg (a brief prompt and students look into what information they need to assess the sustainability of the prompt), illustrative (examining the process of something that was successful), dialogue (roleplay how stakeholders debate their different views of a specific topic), application (describe what you would do in a given situation given your knowledge), data (provide a lot of data and have students pull out meaningful parts), and issue (examine a narrative of a situation and ask questions about it).

Overall, this article was informative and inspirational towards teaching methods. In the field of ATEC, I think case studies should be implemented into classes. The case studies should not only be provided by a teacher, but students should bring in their own case studies, including projects about their situations and communities. Such case studies could also be used to connect ATEC students with people of other fields. A particularly useful case study type is the data cases’. For example, ATEC students would be given a deforestation dataset and pair with a data researcher to create an infographic or digital interactive piece that effectively informs the public about the current situation of deforestation.

Inquiry into Sustainability issues by preservice teachers summarizes and discusses a program where undergraduate students were required to attend a course on research methods for the first half of a semester. Then for the rest of the semester, they were to apply the learned research methods through their own open ended research project [2]. The point of the study was to see if the participant’s sustainability consciousness increased or not, which is essentially the attitude, awareness, and behaviors of a person regarding sustainability. In order to measure this, the participants were interviewed and took Michalos’ et al. (2012, 2015) as cited in [2], questionnaire both before and after the 11 week semester. The results showed that sustainability consciousness increased in knowledge, attitude, and behavior though there wasn’t as significant of an increase in the economic dimension of sustainability consciousness.

In Influences on Student Intention and Behavior Toward Environmental Sustainability, the author performed an extensive overview on sustainability pedagogy in college level business education. What they found from Holt 2003 as cited in [6], was that a person’s personal beliefs motivated behavior above all else and that these beliefs were significantly influenced by unreliable opinions from family, friends, media, politicians, and celebrities. Taking the potential effectiveness of case studies, from Sprain [5], it might be beneficial for students to analyze case studies of when an unreliable resource incorrectly influenced people’s views on a specific matter. It could be taken a step further and be a blind’ study where the students do not know who the exact politician, for example, or social media site is until after initial examination.

With this aside, the pedagogical review section reflected similar suggestions of the other four articles analyzed in this paper for teaching sustainability including team-based work, one-to-one student dialogues, student-lead class discussions, role-plays, peer interviews, and student created videos (much like the Hands Heart Head workshop). This article also fills in for a weakness of Kalsoom’s [2] article. In Kalsoom’s article, the participants did not experience much of an increase of their sustainability consciousness regarding economy. In Swaim’s et al. [6] article, it suggests giving students a basic framework and understanding of public goods (external costs, transparency, free riders, the tragedy of the commons, etc) because students are more apt to identify the structural and institutional weaknesses that lead to environmental degradation and asses possible resolutions.

These articles are a useful tool in the beginnings of the development towards developing successful sustainability education. Though the sustainability teaching in these articles has taken place from short workshops or from other fields, a critical analysis of them leads to potentially useful methods for teaching sustainability in the field or Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication. Further research should include investigation into art schools that have specializations in sustainability like School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Perhaps places such as this would have some longer term research available regarding the long term retainment of sustainability attitudes of the students.

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Review of Sustainability Pedagogy and its Application in ATEC. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from
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