Education for Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems : From Theory to Practice book cover
1st Edition

Education for Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems
From Theory to Practice

ISBN 9780367500504
Published March 3, 2020 by Routledge
296 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The goal of Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems (SHES) education is to prepare students to facilitate social learning in communities that builds knowledge of, capacity for, and commitment to sustainability to facilitate the emergence of sustainable societies.

The SHES approach to sustainability education relies on complexity-based systems thinking that transcends disciplinary boundaries. This book provides a comprehensive guide to the SHES approach, including its rationale and theoretical foundation, its pedagogy and practical applications in curricula, and ways to support the approach through institutional administration.

This book will be of great interest to academics and students of education, environmental sciences and studies, sustainability and sustainable development, natural resource management, conservation, environmental policy, environmental planning, and related fields in higher education. Educators can use this book as a guide to SHES pedagogy, curriculum design, sustainability, environmental studies, sustainable development, and sustainable well-being. Administrators will find the book useful in establishing, evaluating, staffing, and promoting programs based on the SHES approach.

Table of Contents

Preface: Innovation of the SHES Approach Will Focht, Paul A. Barresi, and Michael A. Reiter

Part I: Foundations Editor: Will Focht

1. Why Education for Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems? Will Focht and David V. J. Bell

2. Sustainability: Systems Thinking in Complex Situations Martin J. Bunch, Ricardo Ramírez, and Karen Morrison

3. Viability of Complex Systems: A Holistic Conceptual Framework David Mallery and Martin J. Bunch

4. The Social Learning Challenge Karen Morrison, Will Focht, and Martin J. Bunch

5. The SHES Approach to Sustainability Education Will Focht and Paul A. Barresi

6. Ethical Analysis of Stakeholder Values in Revealing Complexity Steven A. Kolmes, Michael L. Humphreys, and Sara K. Kolmes

Part II: Pedagogy Editors: Paul A. Barresi and Richard C. Smardon

7. Operationalizing the Vision: From Foundations to Pedagogy and Practice Paul A. Barresi

8. Essential Learning Outcomes Richard C. Smardon, Paul A. Barresi and Michael A. Reiter

9. Course Design: An Example of an Undergraduate Course Kimberly Reiter

10. Course Design: Examples of Graduate Courses Richard C. Smardon, Michael A. Reiter, and Michael L. Humphreys

11. Program Design: Degree, Certificate, and Other Programs Richard C. Smardon

12. Institution-Wide Design: Sustainability Education across the Curriculum and Beyond Paul A. Barresi, Richard C. Smardon, and Valerie A. Luzadis

Part III: Administration Editors: Michael A. Reiter and Richard C. Smardon

13. Program Evaluation and Assessment Richard C. Smardon and Michael A. Reiter

14. Supporting Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems Faculty Stephanie Pfirman, Richard C. Smardon, and Michael A. Reiter

15. Supporting Curriculum and Program Design Michael A. Reiter and Richard C. Smardon

16. Model Structures for Institutional Support and Recognition Stephen S. Mulkey, Richard C. Smardon, and Michael A. Reiter

Realizing the Vision: Reflections and Implications Richard C. Smardon, Michael A. Reiter, Paul A. Barresi, and Will Focht

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Will Focht is Associate Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA

Michael A. Reiter is Professor of Environmental Science at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

Paul A. Barresi is Professor of Political Science and Environmental Law at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA

Richard C. Smardon is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York, USA


"This long-overdue volume addresses a very serious gap in pedagogy around sustainability: How do we create learning that is systems-oriented and interdisciplinary? The answers, as this important book suggests, go to the very foundations of academic institutions. The transformational changes the authors envision are vital to creating sustainability education that can meet the challenges that global stewardship presents to current and future generations." — Michael V. Russo, Charles H. Lundquist Professor of Sustainable Management, Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon, USA

"Sustainability is such a critical idea, whether it be preparing students, engaging citizens, or developing active community practices and dynamic interactions that might actually lead to a shared positive outcome. And to put ideas into action, sometimes you have to just step back, engage, and collaborate on what might be useful and what might really work. The editors and authors of this book have encouraged exactly that kind of approach. I think that those who are now able to tap into this pool of shared knowledge are more likely to reach a result that will benefit the sustainability of both human and environmental systems. A much needed effort." — John A. "Skip" Laitner, Energy and Resource Economist, Economic and Human Dimensions Research Associates, Immediate Past-President, Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS)

"While much has been written about the shortcomings of higher education in engaging students meaningfully in the grand sustainability challenges of our time, a comprehensive change-narrative is still hard to find. Apparently, it is much easier to critique than it is to transform. Fortunately, this book changes that as the innovative SHES approach at last provides the much-needed principles, practices and prospects for a counter-hegemonic education that can help cultivate the wisdom, care and wonder needed to overcome rampant systemic global dysfunction." — Arjen E. J. Wals, Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability, Wageningen University, Guest Professor Education for Sustainability, Gothenburg University, UNESCO Chair Social Learning for Sustainability

"In this long-awaited volume, Will Focht, Michael Reiter, Paul Barresi, Richard Smardon and their colleagues in the Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems (SHES) Roundtable provide an invaluable resource for professionals in sustainability in higher education, especially for those of us who are focused on what is happening in the classroom as opposed to "greening the campus." Over a period of several years, the participants in the SHES Roundtable -- a loose network of dedicated teaching faculty and practitioners -- have convened periodic meetings to compare notes on pedagogy and curriculum design and then, importantly, they have refined their collective thinking in the classroom to produce a robust framework for teaching sustainability. Though based largely on the experiences of university-level educators, all sustainability leaders will find in these chapters both useful constructs and helpful pointers to apply in their own work. In brief, the hallmark of the SHES approach to sustainability education is the use of systems thinking to reveal the "systemic and interactional complexity" of sustainability situations. The SHES model articulates a coherent sequence of Stages, Phases and Tasks for educators to plan, deliver and evaluate the efficacy of their curricula. In layman’s terms, once you have read Education for Sustainable Human and Environmental Systems, even experienced faculty will better appreciate why their courses succeed or fail and will be better able to identify where improvement is possible since the SHES framework requires careful and critical consideration at each step. Particularly useful is Chapter 7, "Operationalizing the Vision: From Foundations to Pedagogy and Practice," which walks the reader through the full model introduced in Chapter 5, and literally provides the questions to ask at each step along the way. I especially liked the discussion of "framing" in this chapter, not only because it emphasizes how important the frame of a given circumstance of concern is to limiting the range of effective solutions, but also how it builds on the "frame analysis" work of Erving Goffman, which unfortunately has generally been overlooked by sustainability professionals. Other sections similarly offer guidance that rests on prior research and/or classroom-tested examples. While no one is clamoring for a "one size fits all" pedagogical route for sustainability education, at times the cacophony of diverse pedagogical strategies can be not only confusing but disheartening to proponents of sustainability in higher education. The search for consensus with respect to pedagogy and curricula will continue, but this work by the SHES team will certainly advance the state of play with the solid and structured roadmap presented here." — Ira Feldman, Founder and Managing Director, Sustainability Curriculum Consortium

"Books about sustainability-related education often provide more cheerleading than analysis. This book, in contrast, offers a systematic look at the theory and practice of sustainability education, based on systems thinking. By combining a holistic vision with practical implementation advice, the authors have created an approach to sustainability that truly merits the attention of everyone in higher education!" Lamont (Monty) Hempel, Hedco Professor and Director, Center for Environmental Studies, University of Redlands, USA

"There has long been a consensus in academic circles concerned with sustainable futures that a systemic and systems-thinking approach both to socio-ecological issues and to education is crucial to making any sort of breakthrough to a more secure and livable future. But to date, the elaboration of why and how this path to sustainability education should and can be realised has been sparse. In response, and by setting out the principles and methodology of the SHES approach, the authors have achieved a significant and innovative contribution to the literature." Stephen Sterling, Professor Emeritus of Sustainability Education, Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth, UK