» Sustainability

Sustainability in Curriculum Resources (Lane Community College

In 2008, Lane was awarded an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education Grant to provide training and resources for instructors for the purpose of providing the instructors with the ability to infuse sustainability concepts into their courses. This page provides the materials and resources that were developed during the implementation of this grant. These resources can be used by instructors interested in learning more about infusing sustainability into their curriculum. Read More

Identifying and Improving Green Spaces on a College Campus: A Photovoice Study

Research suggests that a large percent of college students experience stress due to the demands of college life. Campus health professionals use a wide range of interventions to reduce student stress; however, the ability of green spaces on campuses to alleviate stress is often lacking in college health programs and related research. In this study, photovoice methodology was used to conduct a community-based participatory research project in order to identify and improve campus green spaces that students frequent for stress relief. Participants included 45 undergraduate students enrolled in an emotional health course. Students were instructed to take photos that addressed two open-ended questions: (1) What green spaces on campus do you visit to alleviate stress? (2) How could the green spaces on campus be improved for alleviating stress? Afterward, students analyzed and placed their photos into distinct themes. Results showed that students enjoyed green spaces that featured both man-made structures (e.g., swings, fountains, benches) and exclusively natural areas (e.g., magnolia trees, campus parks). Students indicated that campus areas in need of improvement for alleviating stress included trash cans, areas lacking landscaping, piles of cigarette butts, and a dilapidated campus tower. Spaces that helped alleviate stress and spaces that needed improvement were both reflective of Attention Restoration Theory. At the culmination of the project, the students shared their findings with the campus community at a photo exhibit. During the exhibit, students’ voices were heard by campus administrators in positions of authority (e.g., chancellor, director of Facilities Operations, grounds crew supervisor). Read More

In and Of the Wilderness: Ecological Connection Through Participation in Nature

Ecopsychologists theorize that a sense of connection to nonhuman nature inspires empathy that should lead to proenvironmental behavior. Widely used measures of connectedness to nature consist largely of items we suspect may be endorsed by individuals who feel affectively or spiritually connected to nature yet rarely, if ever, subjectively experience their fundamental physical interdependence with the larger ecosystem. In this paper, we borrow the phrase ‘‘participation in nature’’ (PIN; Elpel, 1999) to refer to activities that involve unmediated intimate interaction with, and immersion in, the wild ecosystem for the purpose of meeting one’s basic survival needs. We suggest that these activities represent a form of corporeal connection to nature that is not captured by existing conceptualizations and measures. To explore the relationship between PIN, existing measures of connectedness to nature, and environmental behavior, we surveyed 50 participants at a weeklong earth-living skills gathering, some of whom participate in nature as a lifestyle. As predicted, PIN was significantly positively correlated with connection measures and, like other forms of connection, predicted self-reported environmental decision making. Importantly, regression analyses revealed PIN to be the only significant predictor of green decision making for this particular sample; thus, we consider it a valuable addition to the ecological connection construct. Results of this study and other researchers’ recent work point to the importance of conceptually and operationally teasing apart affective, cognitive, and behavioral connections to nature. Key Words: Ecopsychology— Measurement—Connectedness to nature—Primitive skills—Quantitative research Read More

The Changing Effect of Economic Development on the Consumption-Based Carbon Intensity of Well-Being, 1990–2008

Recent sustainability science research focuses on tradeoffs between human well-being and stress placed on the environment from fossil fuel consumption, a relationship known as the carbon intensity of well-being (CIWB). In this study we assess how the effect of economic development on consumption-based CIWB—a ratio of consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions to average life expectancy—changed from 1990 to 2008 for 69 nations throughout the world. We examine the effect of development on consumption-based CIWB for the overall sample as well as for smaller samples restricted to mostly high-income OECD nations, Non-OECD nations, and more nuanced regional samples of Non-OECD nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We find that the effect of economic development on CIWB increased through time for the overall sample. However, analyses of the Non-OECD and OECD samples indicate that while the effect of development on CIWB increased from null to a moderate level for the Non-OECD nations, the effect of economic development was much larger, relatively stable through time, and more unsustainable for the OECD nations. Additional findings reveal important regional differences for Non-OECD nations. In the early 1990s, increased development led to a reduction in CIWB for Non-OECD nations in Africa, but in more recent years the relationship changed, becoming less sustainable. For the samples of Non-OECD nations in Asia and Latin America, we find that economic development increased consumption-based CIWB, and increasingly so throughout the 19 year period of study. Read More

Campus-based Learning

All campuses have links to climate through rainfall landing on the campus grounds. All campuses have links to surface water as water lands on impervious buildings and parking lots. People travel to the campus by automobile and bus, which add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Education at most institutions does not link to the local context, yet the actual buildings and grounds can be studied, analyzed and even manipulated for research and education. Read More

Sustainable Development under Population Pressure: Lessons from Developed Land Consumption in the Conterminous U.S.

Population growth will result in a significant anthropogenic environmental change worldwide through increases in developed land (DL) consumption. DL consumption is an important environmental and socioeconomic process affecting humans and ecosystems. Attention has been given to DL modeling inside highly populated cities. However, modeling DL consumption should expand to non-metropolitan areas where arguably the environmental consequences are more significant. Here, we study all counties within the conterminous U.S. and based on satellite-derived product (National Land Cover Dataset 2001) we calculate the associated DL for each county. By using county population data from the 2000 census we present a comparative study on DL consumption and we propose a model linking population with expected DL consumption. Results indicate distinct geographic patterns of comparatively low and high consuming counties moving from east to west. Read More

SISL: Sustainability Improves Student Learning

SISL is a select group of academic associations and disciplinary societies working together to increase students’ learning in undergraduate courses, and better prepare students for the 21st-century “Big Questions” that relate to real-world challenges such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change. Read More

Nature Transformed: The Environment in American History

Nature Transformed: The Environment in American History explores the relationship between the ways men and women have thought about their surroundings and the ways they have acted toward them. It asks how Native Americans conceptualized nature and saw themselves in it and how they lived and are now living upon the land. It studies the shifts in perception that transformed nature from wilderness to ecosystem and considers how these transformations affected the forests, plains, and deserts of North America. Nature Transformed enables teachers to show their students how the forces that shaped the American landscape also shaped the American past. Read More

Engaging with energy reduction: Does a climate change frame have the potential for achieving broader sustainable behavior

Reducing energy use is key in meeting ambitious climate change targets being set around the world. This research considers the psychological impact, and potential for behavioural spillover, resulting from receiving energy information framed in terms of financial costs or the environment. We utilised an online tool in order to present undergraduate participants with an energy display simulation of their own energy use and presented energy use in terms of kilowatt-hours, carbon dioxide (CO2), or costs. Study 1 found increased motivations to save energy for climate change reasons and some indications that environmental behaviour might increase after participants received CO2 information compared to alternatives. Study 2 found that CO2 information increased climate change salience, which mediated effects observed on environmental behaviour intentions. Data suggest that highlighting climate change in relation to energy savings may be useful for promoting broader environmental behaviour. Read More

Green Infrastructure (EPA)

Green infrastructure uses natural hydrologic features to manage water and provide environmental and community benefits. By improving the environment and preserving open space, green infrastructure supports sustainable communities. Read More

Mission

EERL's mission is to be the best possible online collection of environmental and energy sustainability resources for community college educators and for their students. The resources are also available for practitioners and the public.

EERL & ATEEC

EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

Contact ATEEC 563.441.4087 or by email ateec@eicc.edu