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Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels Committee on Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels Science and Technology for Sustainability Program Board on Higher Education and Workforce Policy and Global Affairs A Consensus Study Report of
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESSâ 500 Fifth Street, NWâ Washington, DC 20001 This activity was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sciences and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation (Award Number: R-1905-56342), with support from the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13:â 978-0-309-67839-1 International Standard Book Number-10:â 0-309-67839-0 Digital Object Identifier:â https://doi.org/10.17226/25821 Library of Congress Control Number: 2020949047 Additional copies of this publication are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2020 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25821.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Con- gress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and Â echnology. Members are t elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the char- ter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Â ciences to S advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, EngiÂ eering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and n a Â dvice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and Â increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Â edicine M at www.nationalacademies.org.
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COMMITTEE ON STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA AT THE UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE LEVELS ANNE R. KAPUSCINSKI (Chair), Director, Coastal Science and Policy Program; Professor, Environmental Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz ARUN AGRAWAL (NAS), Samuel Trask Dana Professor, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan CHRISTOPHER BOONE, Dean, College of Global Futures; Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University ERIN BROMAGHIM, Director, Olympic and Paralympic Development and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Fellow on the Sustainable Development Goals, Office of the Mayor, City of Los Angeles GARRICK E. LOUIS, Associate Professor, Systems Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Engineering and Society, University of Virginia DORCETA E. TAYLOR, Professor of Environmental Justice, Yale School of the Environment, Yale University Board on Higher Education and Workforce Staff LIDA BENINSON, Study Director and Senior Program Officer THOMAS RUDIN, Senior Director AUSTEN APPLEGATE, Research Associate Science and Technology for Sustainability Program Staff FRANKLIN CARRERO-MARTÃNEZ, Senior Director EMI KAMEYAMA, Program Officer Consultant PAULA WHITACRE, Full Circle Communications v
Preface We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty; just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet. The world will be a better place in 2030 if we succeed in our objectives. âUnited Nations Resolution adopted September 25, 2015 Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Societies that prioritize and intentionally connect healthy natural environ- ments and social justice are likely to sustain their institutions, people, and ecosys- tems in the face of large changes that challenge their status quo. The coronavirus 2019, or COVID-19, pandemic, which was rapidly enveloping the world as I wrote this preface, offers a harsh reminder that societies with these priorities best prepare their leaders and citizens to exercise the mutual aid, flexibility, and ingenuity needed to reduce harm from catastrophic shocks. Societies with these priorities improve their resilience to change and capacity to pursue new oppor- tunities for all to prosper. These insights, drawn from many fields of research, underlie the urgent drive by people and organizations around the world to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We are at a hinge moment of urgency. Now is the time to turn around un- sustainable environmental, economic, and social trends that already harm nature and billions of people. Left unchecked, these trends will profoundly diminish opportunities for future generations and environmental conditions on which life depends. But this need not lead us to despair. Urgency can focus and elevate indi- vidual and collective agency to navigate paths forward within an environmentally safe and socially just operating space for humanity. Countless youth, workers, elders, and leaders are founding and implementing relevant initiatives in their communities, nations, and international networks to recover healthy ecosystems and human communities and to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in these efforts. Higher education plays a crucial role in meeting this grand challenge. In- deed, the number of U.S. undergraduate and graduate degree programs, research institutes, and centers focused on sustainability has markedly increased in the vii
viii PREFACE past decadeâan exciting and hopeful sign. This has generated a vibrant debate on what should be the key elements of and structural support for interdisciplinary sustainability education programs. The National Academies of Sciences, Engi- neering, and Medicine Board on Higher Education and Workforce and the Sci- ence and Technology for Sustainability Program therefore formed the Committee on Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels. Our committee was tasked to consider current practices and major advances, key competencies, partnerships with enhanced recognition of the Sustainable Development Goals and other frameworks, and other issues. We convened three workshops to solicit input on the current state of play and opportunities to strengthen sustainability curricula and programs. We received input from a wide range of interested parties, particularly educators, students, and graduates of sustainability programs; members of bridging organizations that address sus- tainability; and employers of graduates who received sustainability education. We also considered literature from a wide range of fields. This report presents our recommendations on strengthening sustainability curricula and programs in higher education in terms of core competencies, contents, and broader contexts; building the academic environment to incentivize these programs; and developing a sustainability workforce. The report also emphasizes the need for inclusion of faculty and students who collectively span diversity across the social spectrum. It has been a great honor and pleasure to chair our six-member committee in designing three different workshops across the nation and collaborating on this report. Our deliberations revealed a willingness to simultaneously embrace hard truths about structural obstacles and rising opportunities for achieving a more sustainable and just future. We learned so much from each other, and I look forward to ongoing friendships. We benefited tremendously from the vision and advice of National Academiesâ staff leadership, including Vaughan Turekian, ex- ecutive director of Policy and Global Affairs, who initially conceived this study; Thomas Rudin, senior director of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce; and Franklin Carrero-MartÃnez, senior director of the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program. Special thanks go to our outstanding study director, Lida Beninson, for her guidance, knowledge, and professionalism; to Emi Kameyama for sophisticated corralling of information and other assistance; and to Austen Applegate for coordinating complex workshops and committee meetings. We are enormously grateful to Paula Whitacre, who served as consulting writer for this report. We also thank the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation for sup- porting this project. Anne R. Kapuscinski, Chair Committee on Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels
Acknowledgments The committee would like to acknowledge the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and National Academies George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science for their generous support of this study. The committee would like to acknowledge the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center of the University of California, Santa Cruz, with support from the dean of the Division of Social Sciences and dean of the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences, for hosting the committeeâs meet- ings. The committee also thanks senior librarian Rebecca Morgan in the National Academiesâ research library for her assistance with fact checking and literature searches. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PRESENTERS AND PARTICIPANTS The committee gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following individuals who made presentations at the workshops: NATALIE ARORA, Head of Operations, Susa Ventures DAVID CARUOLO, Legislative Assistant for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), United States Senate WILLIAM CLARK, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, and Chair, International and Global Affairs Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University KELLY DAMEWOOD, Chief Executive Officer, California Certified Organic Farmers ix
x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MARILU HASTINGS, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation KRISTI KREMERS, Director of Graduate and Faculty Leadership Programs, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota PAMELA MATSON, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor in Environmental Studies; Director, Change Leadership for Sustainability Program; and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute, Stanford University MIKE MIELKE, Senior Vice President, Silicon Valley Leadership Group HAROLD MITCHELL, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ReGenesis KATHARYNE MITCHELL, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz DAVID PALTER, Workforce Development Director, Silicon Valley Leadership Group ROD PARNELL, Professor of Geology and Environmental Science, Northern Arizona University ALVARO SANCHEZ, Environmental Equity Director, The Greenlining Institute RAFID SHIDQI, M.S. Student, Coastal Science and Policy, University of Cali- fornia, Santa Cruz LEEHI YONA, Ph.D. Student, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program, Stanford University ANGELA XIONG, Environmental and Sustainability Planner, Ascent Environmental ERIKA ZAVALETA, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, University of California, Santa Cruz CASEY ZWEIG, M.S. Student, Wells Fargo Fellow in Coastal Science and Policy, University of California, Santa Cruz We would also like to thank the more than 75 educators, employers, and oth- ers who participated in the interactive sessions held at the first two workshops. Their active engagement provided critical input to the committee. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF REVIEWERS This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institu- tional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: DAVID BLOCKSTEIN, Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences;
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi DIANNE CHONG, The Boeing Company (retired); CASONDRA DEVINE, Wells Fargo; RODOLFO DIRZO, Stanford University; LISA GRAUMLICH, University of Washington; CATHRYN MANDUCA, Carleton College; STAN MEIBURG, Wake Forest University; MELISSA NELSON, San Francisco State University; CHARLES REDMAN, Arizona State University; MEGHNA TARE, University of Texas, Arlington; and GILLEN WOOD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive com- ments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recom- mendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by PAMELA MATSON, Stanford University and HELEN QUINN, Stanford University (retired). They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW 13 An Urgent Journey, 13 Work of the Committee, 16 Scope of the Study and Organization of This Report, 18 References, 18 2 LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 21 Frameworks for Sustainability, 21 Sustainability Science, 29 Sustainable Development and Sustainability, 31 Brief History of Sustainability Education at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels, 32 Current Status of Higher Education Programs in Sustainability, 34 Sustainability-Related Employment, 43 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Sustainability Education and Employment, 45 Organizations Engaged in Sustainability Education, 51 References, 52 3 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS 59 Institution-Wide Considerations, 59 Competencies and Capacities for Sustainability Education, 60 Content Areas in Sustainability Education, 67 xiii
xiv CONTENTS Contexts and Applications of Sustainability Education, 71 Experiential Learning, 73 References, 79 4 BUILDING THE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT 83 Colleges and Universities as Living Labs, 83 Bridging Disciplinary Silos, 85 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, 90 Federal Support of Sustainability Programs in Higher Education, 97 Sustainability Education Research Agenda, 101 References, 103 5 DEVELOPING A SUSTAINABILITY WORKFORCE 109 Considerations Beyond the Academic, 109 Developing Change Agents, 110 Enhancing Collaboration among Sustainability Professional Societies, 114 Accreditation, 117 References, 119 6 FINAL THOUGHTS AND SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS BY STAKEHOLDER 121 Committee Recommendations by Stakeholder, 122 APPENDIXES A Definitions of Key Terms and Phrases Used in the Report 125 B Abbreviations and Acronyms 131 C Biographies of Committee Members 133 D Workshop Agendas 137