Monday, December 20, 2010

Penn State's Strategic Plan & Sustainability

Biophiles! This just in from Penn State's Office of Sustainability:
What would a sustainable Penn State look like to you? This is the key question to an ambitious sustainability strategic planning effort that was kicked off this fall with all the University’s top leadership—and the guidance of some of the world’s leading sustainable businesses. Town hall meetings and various other forums are being planned now to gather input. For more information, and to contribute, visit:
What do you think Penn State needs to do? What should the university's curriculum do to move us on a more sustainable path?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Cancun, a movement for Mother Earth's Rights

It's not just about human rights anymore. Free speech. The free exercise of religion. The right to due process. Assembly. These are all noble things that we, as citizens of the United States take for granted and hope for more of the world's people.

What about the right to free water? To sanitation? Maude Barlowe argues that these are essential to sustainable human society. And they rest, perhaps, on something much deeper. The right of the Earth's biosphere to sustain itself.

Yes! Magazine reports that a group of concerned people have gathered at the Cancun climate talks to press the case for a broader and more sustainable vision of the rights that global society ought to guarantee and the responsibilities it must fulfill.
Activists in Cancún and Mexico City are rallying behind the idea of environmental rights. Many support a document called the “People’s Agreement on Climate Change,” which includes a “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.” It’s an idealistic name for a proposal that would sound either visionary or improbable, or both—if not for the fact that the declaration represents the work of representatives from 56 countries and of tens of thousands of people who attended a climate conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, last April. The document declares that everybody has rights to basics like clean water and clean air, but it also says something even more extraordinary: that the planet’s ecosystems themselves have rights.

You can read the text of the document here. This is a renewed vision of humans on Earth. When the Rio conference happened in 1992, people envisioned something better and more sustainable for the world, including renewed interest in education for sustainable development under Article 21. In the years since, it has been sorely neglected and only paid with lip service by most national and global institutions.

Barlowe and others see new possibilities on this global action. And yet, maybe it is going to be most effective through the creation of local and regional stability and sustainability. I think it's fair to say that our so-called "leaders" continue to lead us into more monetary and ecological indebtedness, more consumption, and more growth. And yet, at least in this country and many others around the world from Bolivia to India to Australia, it is communities working together that make the difference. And in some of those places, change occurs when people see themselves in their places and their places in them and then love those places and recognize their limits and its limits.

So it might just be the wise thing to do (maybe) to press for a declaration of rights for Mother Earth. Without her, we would and will be nothing. But with her, we flourish.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Learning Progressions, National Standards, and Environmental Science Literacy

This just in:

Waterbury Lecture

Learning Progressions, National Standards, and Environmental Science Literacy

Professor Charles W. (Andy) Anderson

Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University


December 9, 2010 11:00-1:00

Ballroom AB, Nittany Lion Inn

“Buffet Lunch Available Following Talk”

We are currently developing new national standards for science education. This gives us a rare chance to reconsider what is REALLY important in our science curriculum and teaching. This presentation focuses on research exploring two ideas. The first is "environmental science literacy:" We should prepare students who understand the environmental consequences of lifestyle, political, and economic decisions. The second is "learning progressions:" We should organize the curriculum around increasingly sophisticated ways of thinking about or understanding the most important scientific ideas and practices.

Charles W. (Andy) Anderson is Professor in the Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University, where he has been since receiving his Ph.D. in science education from The University of Texas at Austin in 1979. He is past president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. He has been co-editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching and associate editor of Cognition and Instruction. He recently served as a member of NRC’s Committee on Science Learning, K-8 and of the NAEP Science Standing Committee, and NRC’s Climate Change Education Roundtable. His current research focuses on the development of learning progressions leading to environmental science literacy for K-12 and college students.

Contact Information: Jennifer Glasgow 814-865-180