James Lovelock (1990), in The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth, proposes that mother Earth is a living organism regulated and maintained by life on the surface--thus the name Gaia in honor of the Greek Earth Goddess. The concept of earth as a living organism may not hold up to scientific scrutiny, but the concept enables us to create an analogy for sustainable communities. A quest to promote sustainable communities through aggressive activism caused graduate professors to develop an interdisciplinary master’s program in the liberal arts tradition. To sustain Gaia, a curriculum requires nurturing spirit (Socio-Cultural/Spiritual), mind (Economic/Political) and body (Environmental). John Foster, Course Director, Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Lancaster University, UK, argues for critical environmental education as “a long-denied need which was met in the past by the liberal education” and “there is nowhere in contemporary society but the arena of education where this is now possible” (p. 164). College campuses are positioned to create sustainable service-oriented projects. Ellen Cushman (2002) in Sustainable Service Learning Programs asserts that when professors, students, and community partners take intellectual risks, they bring to bear a curriculum that includes critical writing and thinking with well-defined methodologies to make communities more sustainable. We will discuss the following: creating a learning community with a curriculum that fosters student activism, developing a program structure and implementation schedule, establishing a multi-disciplinary faculty and teaching environment, and insuring relevance to community needs and not-for-profit partners.
Cushman, Ellen. (September 2002). Sustainable Service Learning Programs. College Composition and Communication 54 (1): pp. 40.
Foster, John. (2001). Education as Sustainability. Environmental Education Research, 7(2):pp.153-165.
Lovelock, James. (1990). The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth. New York, NY: Bantam Books
|Keywords:||Citizen Science, Cultural Preservation, Environmental Education, Gaia, Higher Education, Learning Communities, Sustainability|
Assistant Professor, Communications and English, Alvernia College, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA
Associate Professor, Department of Science and Math, Alvernia College, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA
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