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2 Landscape for Sustainability Education A large body of enduring and emerging research on sustainability showcases theoretical and goal-oriented frameworks that have informed sustainability edu- cation. This chapter briefly introduces four key frameworks that have emerged from sustainability research and influenced the subject matter of sustainability education programs. It also briefly describes the history and current status of sustainability education programs in the United States and globally. It then highlights the importance of sustainability-related employment and the need to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in sustainability-related education and employment, and it provides a summary of organizations engaged in sustain- ability in higher education. FRAMEWORKS FOR SUSTAINABILITY Frameworks help organize knowledge and practice (Ostrom, 2008). They offer a structure that can guide classroom, laboratory, and experiential learning, and orient policy, research, and practice. Sustainability frameworks fall broadly into two groups. The first set has sought to construct theoretical foundations for sustainability analyses and to represent the dynamic human and natural processes related to sustainability, highlighting at the same time the relationships among the constituent elements of the framework. Work on coupled natural and human sys- tems and social-ecological systems (Ferraro et al., 2019; Liu et al., 2007; Ostrom, 2009) falls into this first set. Many other frameworksâand the list does not ex- haust by any means the different fieldsâsuch as ecological economics (Costanza, 1991; Daly, 1996; RÃ¶pke, 2005), political ecology (Bryant and Bailey, 1997; Robbins, 2011), sustainability transitions (Johnstone and Newell, 2018; Markard 21
22 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA et al., 2012), resilience (Folke et al., 2010; Holling, 1996), environmental justice (Banzhaf et al., 2019; Mohai et al., 2009; Taylor, 2000), and earth systems gover- nance (Biermann et al., 2012; Dryzek and Stevenson, 2011) also seek to achieve analogous theoretical and explanatory understanding. A second set of frameworks concerns social and environmental sustainability goals and outcomes, seeking to identify how such goals can be achieved. Work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and on the Doughnut model falls into this second group, as do ef- forts in corporate social responsibility (Doh and Tashman, 2014; Montiel, 2008) and circular economy (Kirchherr et al., 2017; Pieroni et al., 2019). The private sectorâs reporting initiatives apply metrics and tools to similarly focus on busi- nesses pursuing sustainability goals, even if in more specific fields. Members of the committee and participants in its public workshops discussed a range of these frameworks in the context of how they apply to sustainability practice and research. The ensuing discussion does not aim at a comprehensive introduction to different sustainability frameworks. Rather, it emphasizes, when developing and implementing sustainability higher education programs, the value of explicitly considering conceptual underpinnings and how existing frameworks highlight different sustainability-related processes and outcomes. A unifying framework that encompasses and informs different aspects of sustainability edu- cation by connecting social and environmental factors, interactions, processes, and outcomes remains a work in progress, a goal toward which researchers and educators in sustainability education will be likely to continue to strive. Theoretical Frameworks in Sustainability Education As sustainability education has grown in importance and research on sustain- ability has informed sustainability education, the range, diversity, and integra- tive ambitions of sustainability frameworks that offer interdisciplinary theoretical foundations for sustainability education has also witnessed commensurate growth. Interdisciplinary frameworks in fields such as political ecology, common property, environmental feminism, and ecosystem-based management have combined disci- plinary insights and methods from a range of social and ecological fields of study to address sustainability challenges associated with different patterns of human- environmental interactions and the social and environmental outcomes with which sustainability is typically concerned. In particular, two frameworksâcoupled nat- ural and human systems and social ecological systemsâhave advanced theoretical ambitions to connect social and environmental interactions to inform systematic understanding of relationships and outcomes away from or toward sustainability. Coupled Human and Natural Systems Framework Research and curricular innovations relying on the coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) framework emphasize as their starting point the âpat-
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 23 terns and processes that link human and natural systemsâ (Liu et al., 2008, 639). Interactions between human and natural processes, and coupling at the system level are thus important features of the CHANS framework (NSF, 2018) (see Figure 2-1). Coupled systems frameworks additionally draw upon complexity science to highlight the nonlinearity of human-environment relationships, the importance of reciprocal interactions and feedback, the limits to rationality of agent decision-making, cross-scale interactions, the nested nature of both natural and social systems, and spatial and temporal causal coupling of systems (An, 2012; Pickett et al., 2005). The coupled systems approach has concrete frameworks for causal and de- scriptive analyses. The approach is encompassing in that it can accommodate a wide range of empirical phenomena with which sustainability educators, students, and professionals are concerned. The CHANS framework supports the elabora- tion of methods and education for sustainability because it highlights analytical approaches for systems analysis that explicitly connect behavior of agents with system outcomes and stresses the importance of feedback and emergent phenom- ena. Its emphasis on cross-scale interactions allows educators and practitioners to capture important dimensions of real-world sustainability processes. Over the past two decades, with substantial support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, CHANS research and educational innovations have expanded rapidly FIGURE 2-1 Four requisite components of a successful Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems project. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2018. Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program Solicitation. NSF 18-503. Available at https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/ nsf18503/nsf18503.htm, accessed on September 4, 2020.
24 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA and provided important foundations for both curricular and scientific advances relevant to sustainability education (Kramer et al., 2017). Social-Ecological Systems Framework The social-ecological systems (SES) framework has been described as âargu- ably the most comprehensive conceptual framework for diagnosing interactions and outcomes in social-ecological systemsâ (Partelow, 2018). Consistent with the coupled systems framework, the SES framework also emphasizes the social and ecological interactions and links in attempting to understand sustainability processes and outcomesâit is, however, more specific in two ways. It identifies a suite of concrete causal factors hypothesized to be responsible for observed social-ecological outcomes. It is also more specific in that its primary focus is on social-ecological interactions in the context of natural resources such as land, water, wildlife, pastures, fisheries, and forests. With founding contributions from Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues (Agrawal, 2001; Anderies et al., 2004; Ostrom, 2007), the SES framework high- lights the importance of four core subsystems of governance, users, resource systems, and resource units; their interactions; and the social, economic, and political settings in which resource systems are embeddedâboth contextually and through causal connections (see Figure 2-2). Understanding these linkages and the relationships among the factors characterizing the subsystems is critical to understand system outcomes. FIGURE 2-2 The core subsystem in analyzing the social-ecological systems framework. SOURCE: Ostrom, 2009. Available at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/325/5939/ 419, accessed on November 5, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 25 Frameworks Emphasizing Sustainability Goals Goal-focused frameworks aim to orient and guide action for achieving socio-environmental sustainability, in some contrast to theoretical frameworks providing ways to envision and understand relationships, interlinkages, and feedbacks among social and environmental processes that affect sustainabil- ity. It is important, however, to not overstate this distinction. The two sets of frameworks, rather than working at cross-purposes, offer complementary emphases on sustainability processes and outcomes. One set seeks to pro- vide integrative understandings of the processes, the other set analyzes and develops goals toward which sustainability efforts can direct attention and resources. Perhaps the most prominent of such goal-setting frameworks is the 17 SDGs, adopted by the United Nations and its agencies, more than 190 country governments, and many nongovernmental organizations striving for greater sustainability. Below, we also discuss the Doughnut model, which at- tempts to identify a safe and just operating space for humanity by taking into account aspirations for the well-being of people and the natural environment. Sustainable Development Goals Perhaps the most well-known framework articulated globally as a set of in- terlocking aspirational goals is the 17 SDGs. In 2015, 193 member countries of the UN came together to commit to meeting 17 wide-ranging goals (see Figure 2-3) that group together 169 more specific targets and more than 240 indicators for measuring progress. The SDGs use clear, direct language (e.g., No Poverty, Affordable and Clean Energy, Climate Action) and bold graphics to present high- level global aspirations to achieve economic prosperity, social inclusion, and environmental integrity by 2030. The near-universal adoption of the SDGs has provided an organizing principle, shared agenda, and common language for gov- ernments, the private sector, civil society members, academia, and philanthropic communities around the world to frame their activities, interactions, impact, and reporting.1 SDG 4 addresses the issue of education directly, that is, âEnsure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,â and Target 4.7 of that goal specifically addresses education for sustainable development (ESD) by stating âby 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of cultureâs contribution to sustainable developmentâ (UN, 2020). The SDGs are 1â See United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, available at https://sustainabledevelopment. un.org/sdgs, accessed on March 11, 2020.
26 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA FIGURE 2-3 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. SOURCE: United Nations, 2019. Communications materials. Available at https://www. un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/communications-material, accessed on June 19, 2020. intentionally interrelated: for example, education is needed to achieve other SDGs, while other SDGs affect whether quality education becomes a reality. In addition, several existing legal, policy, and organizational constructs have been mapped to the SDGs, including longstanding global norms on human rights2 and nationally determined contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.3 Such mapping can align agendas to the framework of the SDGs, but does not neces- sarily look at the tensions between the goals. Interactions across the 17 goals and their 169 targets generate multiple synergies (i.e., progress in one goal also supports progress in another goal) but also trade-offs (i.e., progress in one goal would hinder progress in another goal). Understanding these linkages and externalities is essential to âleave no one behind,â the commitment made in UN Resolution 70/1 adopting the 2030 Agenda that has become the de facto slogan and organizing principle for implementation of the SDGs.4Â Many experts contend that leaving no one behind requires locally adapted solutions. For example, Stafford Smith et al. 2â See the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Sustainable Development Goals, available at https:// www.humanrights.dk/our-work/sustainable-development-goals-0, accessed on March 11, 2020. 3â See the German Development Institute on connecting climate action to the SDGs, available at https://klimalog.die-gdi.de/ndc-sdg/, accessed on March 11, 2020. 4â See the United Nations Committee for Development Policy document âLeaving No One Be- hind,â available at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/2754713_July_PM_2._ Leaving_no_one_behind_Summary_from_UN_Committee_for_Development_Policy.pdf.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 27 (2018, 1483) state that âdeeply differentiated and context-specific actionsâ are required and âdespite the need for global outcomes, most implementation will be local.âÂ Moallemi et al. (2019) similarly argue for a local agenda on the SDGs and a means to codevelop this information with communities and stakeholders. The global push to achieve the SDGs is driving the need for highly skilled, well-trained experts in sustainability who can translate global policy into a local or organizational context, source measures of impact, and build action-oriented coalitions. Higher education institutions are responding to the need for educational approaches to help students address the challenge of balancing the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. A Framework for Safe and Just Sustainable Development The development of the SDGs was preceded by other goal-oriented frame- works that focused attention on environmental and social boundaries. The Doughnut framework, originated by Kate Raworth in 2012, builds on the planetary boundaries model developed in 2009 that focused on planetary-scale environmental impacts. The Doughnut framework explicitly includes social boundaries to navigate pathways in a âsafe and just operating space for human- ityâ (Raworth, 2012; Leach et al., 2013; Dearing et al., 2014). This framework adds a set of 11 social boundaries as lower bounds for human well-being to the upper environmental planetary boundaries (Raworth, 2012; see Figure 2-4). These social boundaries, including water, income, education, resilience, voice, jobs, energy, social equity, gender equality, health, and food, aim to raise all of humanity above minimums: for example, ensuring people have at least a certain level of nutrition, education, income, and other basic needs. This framework stresses that the challenge of sustainability is to navigate develop- ment within a socially just and environmentally safe space between these lower and upper boundaries: âcombining the inner limits of social boundaries and the outer limits of physical boundaries in this way creates a doughnut-shaped space within which all humanity can thrive by pursuing a range of possible pathways that could deliver inclusive and sustainable developmentâ (Leach et al., 2013, 85). Other Frameworks In recent years, a number of organizations have built frameworks based on the SDGs, the Doughnut models, and their own research and analysis. For example, The World in 2050 presents a framework of âintegrated pathwaysâ that identifies six âexemplary transformations which allow achieving the SDGs and long-term
28 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA FIGURE 2-4 The âdoughnutâ-shaped space to provide possible pathways that could deliver inclusive and sustainable development based on social and planetary boundaries. SOURCE: The Big Whisper, 2020, based on Raworth, 2012. Available at https://www. thebigwhisper.com/blog/2019/12/23/introduction-to-doughnut-economics-and-thoughts- for-how-to-apply-this-framework-to-your-endeavor, accessed on November 5, 2020. sustainability to 2050 and beyond.â5 In 2018, the World Bank released its own âEnvironmental and Social Frameworkâ to guide its investment project financing.6 The private sector also incorporates sustainability principles into strategy and operations through metrics and tools to measure progress (Matson et al., 2016). According to a recent survey of more than 700 global companies conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 72 percent of companies mention the SDGs in their annual corporate or sustainability reports, 50 percent identify SDGs as a priority, and 54 percent mention them in their business strategies (PwC, 2018). Findings from a McKinsey survey show that companies that address sustainability do so âto align with their business, goals, and values; build, maintain, or improve cor- 5â The six transformations relate to (1) human capacity and demography; (2) consumption and production; (3) decarbonization and energy; (4) food, biosphere, and water; (5) smart cities; and (6) digital revolution. For more information, see âTransformations to Achieve the Sustainable Develop- ment Goals,â available at http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/id/eprint/15347/1/TWI2050_Report081118-web-new. pdf, accessed on March 12, 2020. 6â See the World Bankâs âEnvironmental and Social Framework,â available at http://pubdocs. worldbank.org/en/837721522762050108/Environmental-and-Social-Framework.pdf, accessed on March 12, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 29 porate reputation; and/or improve operational efficiency and lower costs.â7 The environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, framework has been increasingly used in recent years to evaluate the sustainability of companies and investments, as well as to better evaluate risk. Henisz et al. (2019) note that ESG-oriented global sustainability investment has increased 68 percent since 2014 and tenfold since 2004, currently reaching $30 trillion. The UN launched its private-sector UN Global Compact in 2000, a voluntary, nonbinding pact among businesses based on 10 principles that include respecting the environment. With 10,453 member companies across 166 countries, the Global Compact has been a driving force for businesses to adopt and align their work to the SDGs.8 The Business and Sustainable Development Commission, a global group of business leaders, identifies 60 market opportunities that could be commercially lucrative while also helping achieve the SDGs (AlphaBeta, 2017). The commission also recog- nizes the impact on education and employment if the private sector were to build on these opportunities, including the creation of 380 million jobs by 2030 and creation of new business models by company innovators.9 Membership organi- zations, such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and transparency and accountability tools, such as the World Benchmarking Alliance or the Global Reporting Initiativeâs Sustainability Disclosure Database, seek to build platforms and forums for sharing information and best practices around sustainable business (see Box 2-1).Â Â SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE The abundance of theoretical and action-oriented frameworks to guide sus- tainability education and to strengthen its connections with the world of sustain- ability goals and actions is a clear sign of the vigor of a growing field. Research in sustainability science provides key organizing principles for available and emerg- ing knowledge and frameworks related to sustainability. Sustainability science emerged as a distinct field in the early 2000s with key contributions that sought to better delineate the relationship between human well-being and the environment. Sustainability science has an explicit commitment to interdisciplinarity and use- inspired basic and applied research that advances fundamental knowledge and also influences sustainability outcomes through active engagement. Both these features of the field aim to undermine the traditional separation between social, natural, and applied sciences, as also between science and practice (Clark, 2007; 7â See McKinsey & Companyâs survey review âSustainabilityâs Strategic Worth,â available at https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/sustainabilitys-strategic-worth- mckinsey-global-survey-results#, accessed on March 12, 2020. 8â See http://unglobalcompact.org, accessed on March 12, 2020. 9â See the Business and Sustainable Development Commissionâs report Better Business Better World, available at https://d306pr3pise04h.cloudfront.net/docs/news_events%2F9.3%2Fbetter- business-better-world.pdf, accessed on March 12, 2020.Â Â
30 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA BOX 2-1 Sustainability Commitments in the Private Sector With an increase in companies using the United Nations Sustainable De- velopment Goals (SDGs) framework to develop new sustainable opportunities, universities can support corporate sustainability efforts by developing educational approaches that align with the SDGs and private-sector approaches. As noted later in this chapter, a trend with implications for sustainability education includes the growing demand for well-qualified sustainability professionals within the pri- vate sector. Several recent, high-profile efforts have signaled the private sectorâs recogni- tion that verifiable steps toward sustainability are important for their customers, with implications for their bottom line. For example, in August 2019, the Business Roundtable released a âStatement on the Purpose of a Corporationâ signed by 181 chief executive officers representing more than 15 million employees and more than $7 trillion in annual revenues. This statement recognized the need to benefit all stakeholders, rather than just shareholders, which revises more than 20 years of âshareholder primacyâ as central to the Business Roundtableâs Principles of Corporate Governance. The shift focuses on creating long-term value through practices that include investing in employees and communities, thus also orienting the corporations toward the breadth of stakeholders involved in the SDGs. Some nonprofit groups have emerged to further promote sustainability in the private sector. Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with inves- tors and companies to address key global sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces while advancing sustainability in businesses (Ceres, 2020). The Carbon Disclosure Project is a nonprofit organization that administers the global system for reporting on environmental impacts by public and private entities, providing benchmarking and scoring to measure and manage those disclosures (CDP, 2020). B Lab is a global nonprofit organization that supports using business as a force for good, or in its words, âbuild a regenerative and inclusive economy that works for all.â B Lab is perhaps most recognized as the certifying administrator for companies designated as Benefit, or B Corporations. In late January 2020, B Lab and the UN Global Compact announced a free tool, called the SDG Action Manager, which fuses B Labâs B Impact Assessment, the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, and the SDGs with expert feedback to enable companies to self-assess and benchmark their adherence to sustainable and equitable business practices. REFERENCES B Lab. https://bcorporation.net/about-b-lab. Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. https://s3.amazonaws.com/ brt.org/BRT-StatementonthePurposeofaCorporationOctober2020.pdf. CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). 2020. https://www.cdp.net/en, accessed on July 10, 2020. Ceres. 2020. https://www.ceres.org, accessed on June 1, 2020. World Benchmarking Alliance. https://www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org. World Business Council for Sustainable Development. https://www.wbcsd.org.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 31 Clark and Dickson, 2003; Kates, 2011). In drawing upon theories and tools from multiple disciplines as they relate to social and environmental science, sustain- ability science also highlights the contextual and the dynamic nature of social and biophysical relationships (Bettencourt and Kaur, 2011; Spangenberg, 2011). These key features of sustainability science make it an attractive field for integrative work in sustainability and for sustainability education. But for the field to support the achievement of the SDGs and other sustainability goals, its practitioners, educators, and researchers must act to highlight the critical impor- tance of sustainability for present and future generations, address inequalities in sustainability education, and strengthen collaboration in sustainability education beyond the rich world (Messerli et al., 2019). SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY Sustainability is implied in sustainable development, as noted in such sig- nificant work as Our Common Future (WCED, 1987), the Human Development Reports of the UN Development Programme, and the concept of the âtriple bot- tom lineâ articulated by John Elkington (1994). However, the two terms are not interchangeable and can even be in conflict in some situations. Wackernagel et al. (2017, 1) noted âsustainable developmentâ as âthe worldâs official commitment to everyoneâs wellbeing (development), while recognizing the need to operate within the planetâs ecological limits (sustainable).â Yet when countriesâ rankings in the SDG Index were plotted against their development achievements (using the UNâs Human Development Index) and their resource use (based on Global Footprint Networkâs Ecological Footprint), they found that âranking high on the SDG Index strongly correlates with high per person demand on nature (âfootprintâ), while low ranking correlates with low footprints.â They concluded, âthe SDGs as expressed today vastly underperform on sustainability. Such underperformance is anti-poor because lowest income people exposed to resource insecurity will lack the financial means to shield themselves from the consequences.â There is a need to consider sustainable development in the context of sustain- ability as measured by Earthâs âsafe and just operating spaceâ of the Doughnut model. The potential tensions among various sustainability frameworks and goals lend a note of caution in the design and evaluation of sustainability curricula in higher education. Ensuring contextual linkages between sustainability and sustainable development in education is critical so that students, teachers, and communities remain engaged partners in achieving truly sustainable develop- ment in service to the SDGs, and reflect the intent to balance âpeople, planet, and prosperity.â10 10â United Nations A/RES/70/1 â Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable De- velopment, Preamble. Available at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingour- world, accessed on March 12, 2020.Â Â
32 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA BRIEF HISTORY OF SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION AT THE UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE LEVELS Sustainability education began earlier than development of the planetary boundaries, SDGs, or other frameworks described above, and it has expanded and adapted to changing environmental and social priorities. Moreover, sustainability higher education programs have roots in earlier environment- and development- focused programs. Sterling (2004) traced the historical evolution of environmental education from Sir Patrick Geddes (1854â1932) in the United Kingdom, through environmental science and the rise of Western environmentalism in the 1960s with Rachel Carsonâs Silent Spring (1962), and then, in the 1970s, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (in 1970) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (in 1977) formulating the first definitions of environmental education. The International Union for Conservation of Nature defined environmental education as âthe process of recognising values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and attitudes necessary to un- derstand and appreciate the inter-relatedness among man, his culture and his bio- physical surroundings.â UNESCO defined the goal of environmental education as, âTo foster clear awareness of, and concern about, economic, social, political and ecological interdependence in urban and rural areas; to provide every person with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment and skills needed to protect and improve the environment; to create patterns of behaviour of individuals, groups and society as whole towards the environmentâ (Chauvet de Andrade, 1997). These early definitions of environmental education are centered on the environment but carry the seeds of the social and economic dimensions that would later sprout in sustainability education. Development education emerged during the 1970s among nongovernmental organizations and some Western education systems, and it both overlapped and was in tension with the high-level international attention to environmental education (Sterling, 2004). These two trends then merged in the focus on Education for Sustain- ability (EfS) in Our Common Future in 1987 and in Education for Sustainable Devel- opment (ESD) at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. EfS, Sterling thus argued, marks the evolution of environmental education from a narrow focus on the natural environment to the environment and human development in ESD, then to the balance between environmental, economic, and social development in EfS. In 1990, the president of Tufts University in Massachusetts convened 22 uni- versity presidents and chancellors from 15 countries in Talloires, France. Many years before âsustainabilityâ became a normal part of the lexicon, these forward- looking leaders called for higher education to âincrease the awareness, knowledge, technologies, and tools to create an environmentally sustainable future.â Their 10-point Talloires Declaration recognizes the role of universities as role models, providers of education and training, and incubators of research and policy.11 11â For more information, see Talloires Declaration, available at https://sustainabledevelopment. un.org/post2015/transformingourworld, accessed on March 12, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 33 Education was also an important component of the UN Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. In 1992, the Rio Declaration called for âreorient- ing education towards sustainable development,â12 and subsequent UN efforts have built on the goals in that document. Senator John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz jumpstarted the effort to link sustainability with education more deliber- ately in 1993 when they collaborated with Anthony Cortese to launch Second Nature. The organization focused its attention on getting college and university presidents to spearhead sustainability initiatives on their campuses (Peterson, 2013). In 2006, 12 college and university presidents, working in collaboration with Second Nature, ecoAmerica, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), met to charter the American Col- lege and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).13 The founding signatories invited their peers to sign on to the commitment and achieved 336 charter signatories by September 2007. ACUPCC was rebranded and expanded to form the Presidentsâ Climate Leadership Commitments in 2015.14 The Carbon Commitment and the Resilience Commitment were also launched in 2015 as part of this rebranding (Second Nature, n.d.). To date, approximately 700 U.S. universities enrolling about 6 million students have signed the ACUPCC. The institutions share information publicly about their greenhouse gas inventories, climate action plans, and progress reports on sustainability initiatives. In sum- marizing the impact, Dyer and Dyer (2017) argued that âwhile there had been significant growth in higher education sustainability initiatives over the preceding decade, the ACUPCC helped shift these from a collection of distinct programs to a strategic imperative for colleges and universities. The initiative promotes cross-disciplinary education, research, and practice needed for society to achieve sustainability.â Globally, colleges have made commitments to achieving sustainability goals by signing international agreements such as the Talloires Declaration (Adams et al., 2017). Currently, more than 6,000 higher education institutions on all conti- nents have declared a climate emergency and are supporting a three-point plan to mitigate the crisis (Second Nature, 2019). In 2005, the UN launched the Decade of ESD initiative, with periodic con- ferences and agreements to both track and inspire progress. These efforts aimed to infuse sustainability across curricula as well as set up more focused ESD pro- grams. The UNESCO Global Action Programme, first established to advance the ESD agenda, focuses on five priority areas: (1) advancing policy, (2) transform- ing learning and training environments, (3) building capacities of educators and trainers, (4) empowering and mobilizing youth, and (5) accelerating sustainable 12â See Agenda 21, Chapter 36, âPromoting Education, Public Awareness and Training,â available at http://www.un-documents.net/a21-36.htm, accessed on March 12, 2020. 13â See https://secondnature.org; https://ecoamerica.org; and https://www.aashe.org, all accessed on March 12, 2020. 14â See https://secondnature.org/signatory-handbook/the-commitments, accessed on March 12, 2020.
34 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA solutions at the local level.15 While ESD is recognized as a key element of the SDGs, Kioupi and Voulvoulis (2019) developed a systemic framework for con- necting the SDGs to educational learning outcomes to facilitate the transition to sustainability. The authorsâ analysis highlights the need for identifying competen- cies and aims that can be core to educational programs in sustainability and thus better aligning educational programs to the goals of sustainability frameworks and the public and private sectors. CURRENT STATUS OF HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN SUSTAINABILITY Covering a spectrum of issues from the global and local scales, and with a range of goals, current sustainability education programs provide a diversity of approaches in their offerings. Throughout this report, we highlight a variety of educational programs to illustrate the breadth and range of these programs and to underscore that no one-size-fits-all program is advisable or even possible. U.S. Programs Many interdisciplinary environmental programs in the United States were established at higher educational institutions over the last 40 years (Vincent and Focht, 2009). Some interdisciplinary programs focused on systems-based ap- proaches that have existed for several decades, typically without âsustainabilityâ in their names. A large survey of U.S. interdisciplinary environmental programs found consensus in defining the field as âan applied, interdisciplinary focus on the interface of coupled human-natural systems with a normative commitment to sustainabilityâ (Vincent and Focht, 2011). The survey also found a positive relationship between enrollment and program inclusion of sustainability (in core principles, coursework, and research and service learning opportunities), preparing students to be change agents and providing community service, which parallel major features of sustainability education addressed in Chapters 3 and 4 of this report. Vincent et al. (2013) surveyed 231 interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability (IES) program administrators, who rated the importance of 41 knowledge areas and 38 skill areas in what they view as the âidealâ curriculum for each IES degree that they administer. The study included data on 363 IES programs, which were representative of 1,859 IES programs nationally. Their statistical analysis found that undergraduate IES programs clustered around three frameworks, involving a natural science, so- cial science, or sustainability solutions emphasis; and graduate IES programs 15â See UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sus- tainable Development, available at https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000230514, accessed on March 11, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 35 clustered around two frameworks, having either a natural systems or sustain- ability solutions emphasis. They also found that sustainability degree programs statistically fit within these IES frameworks. Importantly, âproblem-solving for sustainabilityâ was core to the curriculum across all the IES frameworks. These findings suggest that it is not possible to make a categorical distinction between interdisciplinary environmental higher education programs and sustainability education programs. Sustainability undergraduate and graduate degree programs have developed against a backdrop of high interest by university leadership (as noted above) but also, and just as significantly, with substantial investments by both students and faculty. To illustrate the growth, the Sustainable Endowments Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released a College Sustainability Report Card (or Green Report Card) from 2006 through 2011 (SEI, 2012). The reports exam- ined sustainability education and efforts on 322 U.S. and Canadian college campuses that enroll about 4.2 million students. Over the span of 5 years, the reports revealed increasing commitments to sustainability on those campuses. For instance, the commitment to reduce carbon emissions increased from 23 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2011, campuses having a farm or garden went from 9 percent in 2006 to 70 percent in 2011, and those with green buildings went from 22 percent in 2006 to 79 percent in 2011. In addition, by 2011, 95 percent of the campuses had a sustainability committee, compared with only 40 percent in 2006. In addition, college students express support of sustainability efforts on their campuses. Using indicators from the College Sustainability Report Card, Emanuel and Adams (2011) surveyed 148 undergraduates in Hawaii and 258 undergraduates in Alabama. They found that 69 percent of the students in Ha- waii and 57 percent of those in Alabama believed that their college should make sustainability a priority in campus planning, development, and day-to-day opera- tions. They also found that 68 percent of the students in Hawaii and 56 percent of those in Alabama felt that âeveryone in my schoolâs community should support sustainable solutions to environmental problems.â Campus sustainability projects have also been used for educational demon- strations and curriculum development for many universities. Cai and Shafiee-Jood (2017) examined campus sustainability programs at six universities (Harvard University, University of Washington, Ohio State University, University of Min- nesota, University of California, Berkeley, and Cornell University) and found that these universities have successfully integrated research and education into their campus sustainability programs and initiatives. These campus commitments to sustainability are linked to the proliferation of sustainability and related degree programs nationwide. Arizona State Univer- sity launched its School of Sustainability in 2006 as the first school in the United States to explicitly explore the principles of sustainability (see Box 2-2). The growth in sustainability programs has been documented by the National Council
36 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA BOX 2-2 Sustainability Education at Arizona State University The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU) was established in 2006 with a mission to âeducate a new generation of scholars and practitioners and create innovative modes of scholarship by bringing together leaders, stake- holders, and people from multiple disciplines to develop practical solutions to the most pressing sustainability challengesâ (ASU, 2019a, 2019b). The school offers multiple undergraduate and graduate programs and minors, doctoral and profes- sional leadership programs, as well as others through ASU Online. A 4+1 Ac- celerated Bachelorâs+Masterâs program allows students to earn both a bachelorâs degree and a master of sustainability solutions degree in 5 years. The School of Sustainability curricula are built around five core competencies (as identified in Wiek at al., 2011) and emphasize experiential learning, corporate and Kâ12 work, research with faculty, leadership development, and community service (Boone, 2015). The school promotes a transdisciplinary approach in its curriculum and creates synergies between multiple disciplines by addressing a broad range of global sustainability challenges, including energy, materials, and technology; water quality and scarcity; international development; ecosystems; social transforma- tions; food and food systems; and policy and governance (ASU, 2019b). All School of Sustainability undergraduates are required to complete a Cap- stone Internship prior to graduation. The Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experience provides need-based stipends to support undergraduates to work on faculty-led research projects. The ASU Study Abroad Office administers more than 250 study abroad programs in more than 65 countries across the globe, with the opportunity to apply classroom learning in a global context. The school also provides mentorship opportunities to support career development experience for students and alumni, such as Sustainabilibuddies (an undergraduate peer-to-peer mentor program), Job Shadow Program, Frasier Global Mentorship Program, and ASU Mentor Network. As of May 2020, 1,684 degrees have been awarded by ASUâs School of Sustain- ability, including 1,156 bachelorâs degrees, 458 masterâs degrees, and 70 doctoral degrees. Regarding employment, 95 percent of B.A./B.S. graduates are currently employed or pursuing a graduate degree, with 72 percent of those employed work- ing in a sustainability-related role. One hundred percent of both M.A./M.S. and Ph.D. graduates are currently employed, with 86 percent and 94 percent of those employed working in a sustainability-related role, respectively (ASU, 2020). REFERENCES ASU. (Arizona State University). 2019a. Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Board of Directors. https://sustainability.asu.edu/people/our-board-of-directors. ASU. 2019b. School of Sustainability. https://schoolofsustainability.asu.edu/. ASU. 2020. Alumni employment outlook. https://schoolofsustainability.asu.edu/careers/ employment-data/. Boone, C. G. 2015. On hope and agency in sustainability: Lessons from Arizona State University. Journal of Sustainability Education 10(November). http://www.jsedimensions.org/wordpress/content/ on-hope-and-agency-in-sustainability-lessons-from-arizona-state-university_2015_11/. Wiek, A., L. Withycombe, and C. Redman. 2011. Key competencies in sustainability: A refer- ence framework for academic program development. Sustainability Science 6, 203â218.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 37 for Science and the Environment (NCSE), which conducted three censuses of interdisciplinary environmental, sustainability, and energy (IESE) degrees in 2008, 2012, and 2016 (Vincent, 2010; Vincent et al., 2012, 2017). This periodic lens provides a useful tool to observe the growth in the number of programs and the various ways the programs are offered. The 2016 NCSE survey (reported in Vincent et al., 2017) compiled data from 1,690 institutions listed in the 2015 Carnegie Classifications, including 315 doc- toral universities, 683 masterâs colleges and universities, and 657 baccalaureate colleges.16 Within this total are 82 historically Black colleges and universities, 112 Hispanic-serving institutions, 309 minority-serving institutions, 40 womenâs colleges, and 35 tribal colleges. According to NCSE, the number of IESE degrees offered grew by 15 percent in the 4 years between 2012 and 2016, to a total of 2,361 degrees offered by 872 higher education institutions. Within this total, sustainability programs may be offered as degrees in sustainability, sustainable management, sustainability stud- ies, environmental sustainability, and more than a dozen other names. A degree program in âenvironmental and sustainability designâ also emerged between 2012 and 2016. In addition, the NCSE survey identified other degrees with strong sustain- ability elements. The top five IESE degrees in 2016 were environmental sciences (33 percent), environmental studies (20 percent), natural resources (18 percent), sustainability (11 percent), and policy and management (7 percent). The survey also revealed that 2,222 degree programs offer IESE specializations while confer- ring a degree in other fields. As an example, Columbia University offers multiple sustainability degree pathways, at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels (see Box 2-3). IESE graduate programs are expanding as well. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of doctoral degrees increased 50 percent and masterâs degrees by 38 percent. This growth suggests that the number of sustainability faculty with advanced degrees in sustainability scienceârather than environmental science, biology, or related fieldsâwill increase, leading to a further maturation of the discipline. Another finding of note from the NCSE survey is that 50 percent of the IESE degree programs are in their own departments, schools, or colleges, an increase of 9 percent since 2012. According to the report authors (Vincent et al., 2017, 7), âthis is significant because IESE degree programs administered by their own IESE units typically have more resources and autonomy than IESE degree pro- grams that span or are located within traditional disciplinary units.â 16â See Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, 2015 Data File, available at http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/downloads/CCIHE2015-PublicDataFile.xlsx, accessed on Sep- tember 23, 2020.
38 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA BOX 2-3 Columbia University Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Sustainability Columbia University offers a variety of environmental-related degrees, including an undergraduate program in sustainable development and sustainability masterâs programs. Established in 1995, the Earth Institute is âthe largest university-wide research organization in the world dedicated to sustainability research, practice, and educationâ (Columbia University, 2019). As an undergraduate program, the Earth Institute offers a major and concentration in sustainable development, in collaboration with the other schools and departments on campus (Columbia Uni- versity, 2018). Students are required to complete a capstone workshop course in their senior year, with the opportunity to work with real-world clients such as the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Military Academy West Point, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The Summer Ecosystem Experiences for Undergraduates Program, or SEE-U, provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to engage in environmental fieldwork as well as classroom lectures and lab work (Columbia University UGE, 2019). An accelerated program allows students to earn both a B.A. in sustainable development and an M.S. in sustain- ability management in 5 years. A growing part of the educational process in Columbiaâs graduate programs is through experiential learning (Cohen, 2019). For example, the M.S. in Sustain- ability Management Program, in partnership with the Earth Instituteâs Center for Sustainable Urban Development, developed an interdisciplinary course in 2017 titled âAccess, Innovation, and the Urban Transportation Transitionâ that includes a series of lectures, a case study approach, and experiential learning in New York City (Ladue, 2017). To prepare a new generation of engineering professionals, the School of Engineering and Applied Science offers an M.S. in earth resources engineering with concentrations in sustainable energy or sustainable waste man- agement (Columbia University EEE, 2019a, 2019b). Global Programs While there is no known survey comparable to the NCSE census that pro- vides a global review of sustainability education programs, the committee identi- fied many networks and programs that indicate the breadth and scope of efforts outside the United States. The committee could not assess their strengths and gaps, but the range of international programs indicate a global interest in infor- mation exchange and networking to meet the needs of institutions and students in sustainability education. Some of these global education programs have UN connections. United Nations Universityâs Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, located in Japan, offers master and doctoral degree programs focused on sustainability
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 39 Columbia University also offers certifications in sustainability analytics, sus- tainable finance, and sustainability water management to train professionals in quantitative and technical skills through applied sustainability curriculum (Colum- bia University, 2019), as well as a doctoral program in sustainable development (Columbia University SIPA, 2019). The M.S. in sustainability management recently graduated its 800th student, with approximately 75 percent holding sustainability positions in the private sector and the remaining 25 percent in government and nonprofit organizations in the United States and abroad (Columbia University, 2020). REFERENCES Cohen, S. 2019. Climate, Energy, Sustainability: COP 25 in Madrid and the Limits of Climate Diplomacy. State of the Planet (blog). News from the Earth Institute. https://blogs. ei.columbia.edu/2019/12/16/cop-25-madrid-limits-climate-diplomacy. Columbia University. 2018. Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. https:// sdev.ei.columbia.edu/. Columbia University. 2019. Master of Science in Sustainability Management: Overview. https:// www.sustainability.ei.columbia.edu/overview. Columbia University. 2020. Master of Science in Sustainability Management: Alumni. https:// www.sustainability.ei.columbia.edu/alumni. Columbia University EEE (Earth and Environmental Engineering). 2019a. MS-ERE, Sustainable Energy Concentration. https://eee.columbia.edu/master/sustainable-energy-concentration. Columbia University EEE. 2019b. MS-ERE, Sustainable Waste Management Concentration. https://eee.columbia.edu/master/sustainable-waste-management-concentration. Columbia University SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs). 2019. PhD in Sustainable Development. https://sipa.columbia.edu/academics/programs/ phd-sustainable-development. Columbia University UGE (Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement). 2019. SEE-U NYC: Summer Ecosystem Experiences for Undergraduates.https://global.undergrad.columbia. edu/program/see-u-nyc-summer-ecosystem-experiences-undergraduates#dismiss. Ladue, A. 2017. New York City: A Learning Lab for Sustainable Transportation. State of the Planet (blog). News from the Earth Institute. https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2017/05/01/ using-new-york-city-as-an-experiential-learning-lab-for-new-sustainable-transportation- course. to students from around the world.17 The Global RCE Network, with regional centers of expertise on ESD encompasses more than 175 institutions as of April 2020, linking UN agencies, formal education institutions, and informal educa- tors.18 The Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability serves to increase the mainstreaming of environment and sustainability practices and curricula into universities around the world.19 17â See Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, available at https://ias.unu.edu/en/, ac- cessed on September 23, 2020. 18â See Global RCE Network on Education for Sustainable Development, available at https://www. rcenetwork.org/portal/, accessed on March 11, 2020. 19â See Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability, available at https://www. unenvironment.org/es/node/10655, accessed on March 11, 2020.
40 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA Sustainability education networks in Asia and the Pacific include the UN En- vironment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacificâs Asia-Pacific Re- gional University Consortium, the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, and the Pacific Islands Forum.20 In Latin America, networks of universities offering sustainability programs include the Mexican Consortium of University Environmental Programmes for Sustainable Development, Environmental Com- mittee of the Association of Universities Group Montevideo, and the Alliance of Iberoamerican University Networks for Sustainability and the Environment.21 The European Network on Higher Education for Sustainable Development, also called the COPERNICUS Alliance, includes 12 institutions.22 The Mainstream- ing Environment and Sustainability in African Universities Partnership Pro- gramme, an initiative of UNESCO, the Association of African Universities, and the United Nations University, has 85 universities across Africa as members.23 Looking more closely at the responses of countries to the UNâs Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, the Swedish government established the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development in 2006 at the former Gotland University. Housed at Uppsala University today, the center promotes integrated collaborative research and development projects in Sweden and abroad, while offering training courses for teachers, professors, teacher edu- cators, policy makers, and project leaders.24 Several higher education institutions also provide courses related to interdisciplinary sustainability science, including a masterâs program in social-ecological resilience for sustainable development at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (UNECE, 2012). The Danish Ministry of Education published a national strategy for education for sustainable development in 2009, and the Danish Regional Centre of Exper- tise on Education for Sustainable Development has focused on creating a national network for practical research and development of ESDs, including all disciplines and levels of education (Danish Ministry of Education, 2009).25 In May 2014, the Aalborg Centre for Problem Based Learning in Engineering Science and Sustain- ability was established under the auspices of UNESCO to focus on a unique com- 20â See Global University Network for Innovation on Sustainability and Higher Education in Asia and the Pacific, available at http://www.guninetwork.org/articles/sustainability-and-higher-education- asia-and-pacific, accessed on March 11, 2020. 21â See Global University Network for Innovation on Sustainability and Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, available at http://www.guninetwork.org/articles/higher-education- environment-and-sustainability-latin-america-and-caribbean, accessed on March 11, 2020. 22â See COPERNICUS Alliance, available at https://www.copernicus-alliance.org, accessed on March 12, 2020. 23â See Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities Partnership Pro- gramme, available at https://www.unenvironment.org/fr/node/10690, accessed on March 12, 2020. 24â See Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development, available at http:// www.swedesd.uu.se/about, accessed on March 12, 2020. 25â See also United Nations Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability, avail- able at https://www.unenvironment.org/es/node/10655, accessed on March 12, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 41 bination of problem- and project-based learning, engineering education research, and education for sustainable development (Holgaard et al., 2016). In 2015, Australia developed consensus standards for the interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability field, titled âLearning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement for Environment and Sustainability,â based on a partici- patory process with nearly 1,000 stakeholders, including academics, students, practitioners, and representatives of Indigenous interests (Phelan et al., 2015). The statement includes minimum or threshold learning outcomes required of environment and sustainability graduates. These learning outcomes are endorsed by the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors as a curriculum reference point for program design, development, and delivery in this field. The Education for Sustainable Development in Africa, launched by the United Nations Universityâs Institute for Sustainability and Peace in 2008, in- volves eight African partner universities in an interuniversity collaboration pro- gram of graduate training and research.26 This work builds on courses developed by the Environic Foundation International that are structured around the SDGs to create a sustainable Africa (EFI, 2020). In 2016, the Kenya Green University Network was launched to include sustainability and environmental practices into the curricula, research projects, and campus designs at Kenyan universities (UNEP, 2016). These examples demonstrate the enormous vitality of sustainability educa- tion programs in countries beyond the United States. They also underscore the substantial diversity in content, methods, structure, and reach of programs in other countries, including many lower- and middle-income countries. At the same time, the major resource gaps that hobble sustainability education offerings in lower-income countries suggest that substantial gains may result from more sys- tematic collaboration between higher education institutions offering sustainability education programs in the United States and internationally. Improved and more equitable access to sustainability education; curricular design to adapt sustainabil- ity education to local needs; and greater integration between research, instruction, and the practice of sustainability are only some of the potential gains from more systematic international collaboration for sustainability higher education. The Sustainable Development Goals in National and Global Higher Education Programs Several U.S. and international higher education institutions have publicly em- braced the SDGs as a framework for organizing core sustainability issues. For ex- ample, Yale University examines how teaching and research at the university aligns with the 17 SDGs (Goodall and Moore, 2018), and Case Western Reserve Univer- 26â See Education for Sustainable Development in Africa, available at https://unu.edu/projects/ education-for-sustainable-development-in-africa-esda.html#outline, accessed on March 12, 2020.
42 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA sity has launched the AIM2Flourish initiative, which claims to be the worldâs first higher education curriculum for the SDGs and âBusiness as an Agent of World Benefitâ (AIM2Flourish, 2019). Internationally, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has developed a 3-year bachelor degree program based on the SDGs, the University of Hong Kong offers Common Core courses tagged with the SDGs as a framework for transdisciplinary and holistic learning, and the University of Geneva and Tsinghua University of China have jointly launched a master of public policy for sustainable development goals (ISCN, 2017; Geneva Trialogue, 2019). Many organizations are also examining strategies to map SDGs onto campus operations and course curricula. The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative, a partnership of UN agencies and initiatives, provides a platform for more than 300 higher education institutions from around the world to exchange best practices and educate future leaders on the SDGs (UN, 2019). Additionally, the UN Sus- tainable Development Solutions Network was set up in 2012 âto mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustain- able development.â27 Originally hosted by Columbia Universityâs Earth Institute, the network became an independent nonprofit in 2016, and launched its global University Partnership Program in 2017. The Association of Public and Land- grant Universities and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research issued a joint Declaration on University Global Engagement as an opportunity for higher education institutions to commit to cross-border and cross-sector research in pursuit of novel solutions to the SDGs (Evers, 2018; Declaration on University Global Engagement, 2019). Other initiatives to advance global engagement on SDGs include the United Nations Academic Impact, SDG Academy, and Geneva Trialogue on scaling education for the SDGs.28 The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education also provides conferences and webinars related to the SDGs and curricula. Voluntary National Reviews, typically a commitment by UN member states to âconduct regular and inclusive reviews of progressâ toward the SDGs, have begun to take different perspectives, with subnational governments preparing Voluntary Local Reviews. In September 2019, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, committed to delivering the first âVoluntary University Reviewâ in 2020.29 This commitment echoes efforts of other universities that have worked in partnership with local and regional governments to track and report progress, including the University of Bristol (Fox and Macleod, 2019) in partnership with the Bristol City Office, and a consortium of institutions sup- porting the City of Los Angeles, including Occidental College, the Thunderbird 27â See UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, available at https://www.unsdsn.org, accessed on July 7, 2020. 28â See http://www.sdgacademy.org and https://gt-initiative.org/events/geneva-trialogue, both ac- cessed on March 12, 2020. 29â See https://sdg.iisd.org/news/carnegie-mellon-university-to-present-voluntary-university- review-in-2020, accessed September 23, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 43 School of Global Management at Arizona State University, the University of Southern California, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Pomona Col- lege (Office of the Mayor, 2019). Times Higher Educationâs Impact Rankings presents the impact higher edu- cation institutions have on society based on their success in delivering the SDGs by providing comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach, and stew- ardship. The second edition of the ratings includes 766 universities from 85 countries (Times Higher Education, 2020). The SDGs provide an opportunity for higher education institutions to work across departments, majors, and community members, such as faculty, staff, and students, to fulfill missions to provide knowl- edge, build skills, and support the cultivation of global citizens (Mahalak, 2018). Universities can collaborate with governments, the private sector, and the public to help accelerate progress toward the SDGs through higher education initiatives. SUSTAINABILITY-RELATED EMPLOYMENT An important aspect of the committeeâs work was to understand the employ- ment prospects for sustainability graduates in terms of the opportunities and the skills that employers seek, especially when hiring recent graduates. The number of people who are employed in sustainability-related jobs can- not be comprehensively ascertained because the field encompasses occupational categories that range from engineering to policy to community organizing and more, in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Moreover, especially over the past few years, many organizations have integrated sustainability across their activities, beyond setting up a separate sustainability office or job category. The committee examined several sources of employment data, including data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the private firm Burn- ing Glass Technologies, recognizing that they do not show the complete picture of current or projected employment.30 Professionals from hiring organizations who participated in the committeeâs workshops also provided anecdotal but valuable evidence about demand within their organizations and the skills they seek, espe- cially in the entry-level positions that would attract new graduates. While there is not a single BLS code that identifies individuals whose pri- mary job is to advance sustainability, the committee analyzed BLS data in 36 occupations that encompass sustainability in some way, from agricultural techni- cians to zoologists and wildlife biologists. These data project a 3.9 percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028: with a net increase of 108,200 jobs during the pe- riod. Growth is expected in all but five of the segments (BLS, 2019). However, the data show jobs formally related to the environment while including many jobs 30â For more information on Burning Glass Technologies, see https://www.burning-glass.com, ac- cessed on March 12, 2020.
44 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA that are likely not related to sustainability; therefore, they only provide a limited picture of the range of jobs related to sustainability. In 2010, the BLS used three surveys to collect data on the numbers of workers in what it termed âgreen jobsâ; however, federal budget cutbacks in 2013 ceased the effort.31 It is useful to know how the BLS defined green jobs in designing the surveys: â(A) jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; (B) jobs in which workersâ duties involve making their establishmentâs production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.â The BLS also rec- ognized sustainability-related jobs within many other categories that it regularly surveys, including management, science, engineering, accountants and auditors, business operations specialists, and compliance officers (Hamilton, 2012). The committee conducted several searches of employment over the past decade using data compiled by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that provides analytics about labor market patterns across the workforce. To do so, the commit- tee drew from workshop input from employers, BLS data, and their own expertise to brainstorm keywords (e.g., sustainable development, natural resources, climate change) to launch the searches. Including the term âsustainability,â the number of jobs posted grew from about 100,000 in 2010 to 600,000 in 2020. In searches through the Burning Glass database that did not use the term, the number of jobs grew from about 50,000 in 2010 to 200,000 in 2020. Variability in how sustain- ability is defined and the limitations of the existing data sources indicate a clear need to better articulate what constitutes the sustainability workforce and for more detailed data about this workforce. In addition to the data from BLS and Burning Glass, another indication about sustainability employment trends in the private sector emerges from State of the Profession 2018 Report, conducted by GreenBiz (2020). GreenBiz has conducted a âstate-of-the-professionâ survey every 2 years and has seen changes over time in how sustainability is increasingly embedded across companies. In large companies (revenues over $1 billion), the numbers with âone or more dedicated sustainability resourcesâ remained roughly constant in corporate social responsibility and environmental health and safety departments, both at about 40 percent of companies (GreenBiz, 2020). However, the numbers tripled in facilities and supply chain departmentsâin facilities, from 7 percent of com- panies to 30 percent; in supply chain operations, from 10 to 49 percent. In ad- dition, the 2018 GreenBiz survey revealed that companiesâ hiring practices of sustainability professionals have recognized the value of sustainability education (GreenBiz, 2018, 22): Ten to 15 years ago, companies exploring the opportunity to leverage sus- tainability as a strategic business initiative typically placed someone from inside 31â See Bureau of Labor Statistics Green Careers, available at https://www.bls.gov/green/green careers.htm, accessed on March 12, 2020.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 45 the organization, preferably an individual with connections and respect across the firm. Since then, we have witnessed the mainstreaming or âprofessionalizationâ of the sustainability role. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the dramatic increase in hiring from outside the company. We also lack data on the career pathways of graduates from sustainability and environmental programs. Although some universities such as Arizona State Uni- versity and Columbia University (see Boxes 2-1 and 2-2) track career trajectories of their own alumni, it is unknown how graduates from sustainability-related programs move into the workforce and whether sustainability education provides graduates a competitive advantage in hiring and career progression. To obtain more reliable information about the career pathways of sustainability graduates, future efforts by labor analysts, economists, statisticians, or other relevant experts could develop comprehensive data collection and tracking approaches similar to the National Survey of Recent College Graduates conducted by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.32 DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT The employment figures above, combined with the changing demographics of the United States, have led to the need to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in sustainability education and employment.33 The current faculty and student populations in most interdisciplinary environmental, sustainability, and energy programs do not reflect the demographic changes under way in the coun- try, nor do the staff and boards of employing organizations. The committee examined research related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in sustainability education and employment to better understand the demographic gaps. As background, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2020, 50.2 percent of all children under age 18 in the country identify with racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering,34 but in 2060, 32â See National Survey of College Graduates, available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvygrads, accessed on June 23, 2020. 33â According to the D5 Coalition (www.d5coalition.org/tools/dei), diversity is defined âbroadly to encompass the demographic mix of a specific collection of people, taking into account elements of human difference, but focusing particularly on racial and ethnic groups, LGBT populations, people with disabilities, and women.â Improving equity is âto promote justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures, processes and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.â Inclusion ârefers to the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decisionmaking processes with an organization or group.â 34â The National Science Foundation defines underrepresented minorities as comprising three racial or ethnic minority groups (Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians or Alaska Natives) whose rep- resentation in science and engineering education or employment is smaller than their representation in the U.S. population. See NSF. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2017, Special Report NSF 17-310, available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/ nsf17310/digest/glossary-and-key-to-acronyms, accessed on February 7, 2020.
46 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA that same group is projected to constitute 64.4 percent of the population (Colby and Ortman, 2015). Educational institutions must be prepared to offer nurturing and inclusive learning environments for all students. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Considerations in Higher Education At this time, there has not been a survey of the racial and ethnic demograph- ics of sustainability undergraduate and graduate students as robust as those that look more broadly at science and engineering fields. Although the interdisciplin- ary nature of a sustainability degree does not make the field neatly fall within a science and engineering discipline, the available data can provide some useful guideposts for sustainability given the partial overlap of disciplines. The numbers of underrepresented minority students obtaining degrees in sci- ence and engineering fields have risen, although their percentage, as a reflection of population, remains low. By 2016, 13.7 percent of the science and engineering bachelorâs degrees were obtained by Latinx students and 8.7 percent by African Americans, while less than 1 percent were earned by Native Americans or Pacific Islanders (NSF, 2019). The 2019 Women, Minorities, and Persons with Dis- abilities in Science and Engineering report from the National Science Foundation noted that the increase in science and engineering bachelorâs and doctoral degrees earned by underrepresented minorities is due, in part, to the important role that minority-serving institutions, which includes historically Black colleges and universities and high-Hispanic-enrollment colleges and universities, have played in training students for bachelorâs degrees. The report states that many of these students go on to earn graduate degrees in science and engineering (NSF, 2019). Data compiled by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the National Science Foundation show that sub- stantial percentages of students of color enter colleges and universities with the intent of majoring in science and engineering fields (HERI, 2014). For instance, in 2014, 54.2 percent of Asian, 45.1 percent of Latinx, 40.4 percent of Black, and 30.0 percent of Native American incoming freshman said they intended to major in science and engineering disciplines. These figures indicate diverse students enter these fields, but are diverted from pursuing the degrees. While these data do not precisely mirror sustainability degree programs, they offer key insights for efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented minority students at all levels in sustainability higher education programs. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Considerations in Employment The Pew Research Center reports that increases in science, technology, engi- neering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations are outpacing overall job growth. Since 1990, STEM employment has increased by 79 percent, growing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million in 2017 (Funk and Parker, 2018). Women constitute
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 47 50 percent of all U.S. workers in STEM occupations, but fewer women than men occupy leadership positions in these fields. Black and Latinx employees are underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Blacks comprise 11 percent of the U.S. workforce overall but only 9 percent of STEM workers. Similarly, Latinx workers make up 16 percent of the U.S. labor force but comprise 7 percent of all STEM workers. A sector that employs sustainability graduates is environmental nonprofit organizations. Here, research (Taylor, 2015) highlights the underrepresentation of female and minorities, especially in leadership positions. To illustrate, in 2014 women comprised 63.5 percent of the interns at environmental nonprofit organizations, but 49.7 percent of senior staff and 28.3 percent of presidents. Underrepresented minorities comprised 20.9 percent of the internships, 7.1 per- cent of senior staff positions, and 3.4 percent of presidents. However, a Green 2.0 survey of organizations addressing environmental and conservation issues reveals a positive trend in the representation of people of color in full-time po- sitions and senior staff at those organizations. Data from the report revealed a slight increase in women (65 percent) and people of color (30 percent) on senior staff at environmental nonprofit organizations, suggesting some improvement in their representation over a 5-year span (Green 2.0, 2019). Continued research and analysis on the diversity of employees at organizations addressing sustainability is key to informing inclusive and equitable practices. Within the federal workforce, according to 2018 data from the Partnership for Public Service, 57.9 percent of the 159,967 workers in sustainability-related agencies and bureaus in 2018 were males and 42.1 percent were females (see Table 2-1) (Partnership for Public Service, 2019). Between 2006 and 2018 the percentage of females and underrepresented minorities working in these agencies increased slightly. Disparities in Sustainability Education and Employment A large body of research has examined the issues of gender, racial, and eth- nic disparities across STEM fields, including the following National Academies reports: Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: Americaâs Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads (NAS-NAE-IOM, 2011), Minority Serv- ing Institutions: Americaâs Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce (NASEM, 2019), Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering (NAS-NAE-IOM, 2007), and To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering (NRC, 2006). Complementing this body of knowledge, additional research pro- vides insights into why sustainability programs may have difficulty in recruiting underrepresented minority students, with a focus on how the programs are framed and potential misperceptions about race, ethnicity, and class related to the natural world. For example, perceived interest and comfort in the natural world can influ-
TABLE 2-1 Demographic Characteristics of the Workforce of Federal Environmental Agencies: 2018 48 SOURCE: Compiled from Partnership for Public Service, 2019. Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. Available at https:// bestplacestowork.org.
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 49 ence sustainability engagement, since affinity for nature is a comparable baseline from which sustainability educators can build support for campus sustainability activities, although it is necessary to acknowledge that interest in natural and environmental issues is only one of many components covered in sustainability science. It is a common practice to depict underrepresented minority students, especially Black students, as disinterested in the outdoors (Taylor, 2018a, 2019). This portrayal may occur even in programs intended to encourage participation from students who are historically underrepresented in STEM and sustainability- related fields. To illustrate, OâConnell and Holmes (2011) described what they observed as perceptions by underrepresented minority students about geosci- ences, interactions with the outdoors, and career aspirations. They argued that those students were less likely than White students to express interest in working on science projects in outdoor settings, and that the families of underrepresented minority students tend to be unsupportive if the student decides to major in the geosciences. In contrast, Huntoon et al. (2015) found that helping underrepre- sented minority students feel like they belong in geosciences programs enhances retentionâespecially at the doctoral level. Several scholars have researched how college students relate to the natural world and reached varying conclusions. Virden and Walker (1999) studied 323 students at a public university and found that White and Latinx students were more likely to prefer more remote and less developed settings than Black stu- dents. Manning (2012) studied students at Southern Utah University and found that male students scored higher on a connectedness-to-nature scale than females, and urban students had higher scores on the same scale than suburban and rural students. Lakenau (2018) conducted a survey of university students and observed that an introductory ecology course enhanced studentsâ connectedness to nature. Other studies of college and university students show thatâregardless of race and ethnicityâmany students have an affinity for nature and the outdoors (Taylor, 2018a). A recent study of 157 STEM college students found that ap- proximately 91 percent of underrepresented minority students reported that they felt somewhat or very connected to nature. Almost all underrepresented minority students surveyed (95.4 percent of Black students, 98.6 percent of other minor- ity students) indicated that they were either curious or very curious about nature. Another study highlighted that many students across the academy (arts, humani- ties, and science) are already enrolled in a range of sustainability and science courses, but with a gap by race/ethnicity. However, while 41.3 percent of White respondents indicated that they had taken at least one sustainability course, only 16.3 percent of Black students and 21.2 percent of other underrepresented minor- ity students had taken courses of this nature (Taylor, 2018b). Another line of research revealed that underrepresented minority students express a strong interest in working in the sustainability/environmental work- force. As shown in Table 2-2, in a study analyzing data from 157 students, more than three-quarters of Black and other minority students surveyed expressed a
TABLE 2-2 Interest in Working in the Environmental Field Upon Graduation 50 SOURCE: Taylor, 2018b
LANDSCAPE FOR SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION 51 desire to work in federal environmental agencies upon graduation; similar high percentages reported interest in working in state departments of natural resources; and 73.9 percent of Black students and 81.8 percent of other students of color expressed interest in working for environmental think tanks. Additionally, more than two-thirds of underrepresented minority students indicated a desire to work in environmental nonprofits, while roughly 60 percent said they would like to work in nature centers (Taylor, 2018b). Despite this interest, the data from government and nonprofit organizations discussed above show a small percentage of underrepresented minority em- ployees, and the numbers decrease with the level of seniority (Taylor, 2018b). Reasons for this disconnect as identified by underrepresented minority students include what they see in that workforce (Taylor, 2018b, 165): âThe potential for upward mobility in an organization and the diversity-related institutional infra- structure are key factors that minority students in this study are looking for in environmental organizations when it comes time to decide where they will work.â Improving diversity in sustainability-related employment will remain a challenge if these misgivings about career progression are not addressed systematically. ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGED IN SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION In gathering input for this report, the committee heard remarks from repre- sentatives of sustainability councils, associations, alliances, and other organiza- tions. As recognized by Dyer and Dyer (2017) when reviewing the efforts of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment related to climate change, higher education administration and faculty are recogniz- ing the value in collaborating with external organizations to share visions and best practices for advising sustainability education. Several organizations that provided input or were discussed at the committeeâs public workshops are highlighted below; however, the committee recognizes that this list may be representative of the number and range of organizations engaged in sustain- ability education. Founded in 2005 as a group of higher education associations to advance sustainability, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education includes administrators, faculty, staff, and students. AASHE offers continuing education and a self-reporting metric for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance, known as the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System. AASHE also supports member efforts to inte- grate sustainability into teaching, operations, and research. The National Council for Science and the Environment, as noted earlier in this chapter, conducts a census of programs that includes sustainability, and it is developing a consensus statement of core competencies. Within NCSE, the Alli- ance of Sustainability and Environmental Academic Leaders provides input and perspectives to the larger council.
52 STRENGTHENING SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA The purpose of the Sustainability Curriculum Consortium is to build âcol- lective capacity as educators and change agents, along with the administrators and stakeholders who can support them, to improve the ways sustainability is perceived, modeled, and taught.â35 It aligns its activities, especially through its webinars, around three key themes in sustainability education: pedagogy, sub- stantive content, and leadership. The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development takes a broad look at sustainability education, from Kâ12 to higher education to commu- nities of faith and other organizations outside the academy. Along with AASHE, it coordinates the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability, which aims to advance sustainability within other fields of study (physics, business, and history, to name but a few). The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education has more than 300 institutional members in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future serves as the secretariat for signato- ries of the Talloires Declaration. These organizations represent a broad collection of efforts to engage higher education programs to advance sustainability goals, often doing so by convening their members through conferences and webinars. By providing frameworks for sustainability performance, resources for education and community engagement, and professional development and networking opportunities, these organizations are valuable partners for initiatives to strengthen sustainability programs in higher education. REFERENCES Adams, R., S. Martin, and K. Boom. 2017. University culture and sustainability: Designing and implementing an enabling framework. Journal of Cleaner Production 171(2018), 434â445. Agrawal, A. 2001. Common property institutions and sustainable governance of resources. World Development 29(10), 1649â1672. AIM2Flourish. 2019. Celebrating Business Innovations for Global Good. https://aim2flourish.com. AlphaBeta. 2017. SDG Prize: Unlocking Business Opportunities to Accelerate Sustainable and Inclu- sive Growth. Commissioned by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission. http:// businesscommission.org/our-work/valuing-the-sdg-prize-unlocking-business-opportunities-to- accelerate-sustainable-and-inclusive-growth. An, L. 2012. Modeling human decisions in coupled human and natural systems: Review of agent- based models. Ecological Modelling 229, 25â36. Anderies, J. M., M. A. Janssen, and E. Ostrom. 2004. A framework to analyze the robustness of social- ecological systems from an institutional perspective. Ecology and Society 9(1). Banzhaf, S., L. Ma, and C. Timmins. 2019. Environmental justice: The economics of race, place, and pollution. Journal of Economic Perspectives 33(1), 185â208. Bettencourt, L. M., and J. Kaur. 2011. Evolution and structure of sustainability science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(49), 19540â19545. 35â For more information, see https://curriculumforsustainability.org/about-us, accessed on March 12, 2020.
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