Engaging Environmental Education

Instructor Name: 
Sergio Palleroni
Course Description: 

Cities harbor significant natural systems, though they are often culturally miscast as the antithesis of nature.  The trend in city building over the last couple of millennia has increasingly focused on making our cities more efficient machines to support human habitation. New trends and a study of alternative historical models show us, though, that cities have the potential to contribute to the planet's capacity to support humans as well as other species.  To promote a greener city, we must make these capacity-building efforts part of the public realm and its discourse.  Participants in this course will learn about current and alternative models focused on managing the natural and human cycle of water and waste of cities.  Through the design and implementation of an urban bioswale system at a local school, participants will learn first-hand the issues and challenges of greening our cities.

Capstone Objectives:

The objective of this course is for students to learn how sustainability influences the choices we have, decisions we make, and how to act on these.  Successful completion of the course will give students the intellectual tools to apply the disciplinary knowledge they acquired at PSU in service of environmental issues in their communities. In pursuit of these objectives the ideas to be investigated will include:

  • How do we  help a client arrive at priorities and decisions that reflect their values.

  • What makes for a “green” school.

  • How does a school become more part of its community through its environmental advocacy.

  • How to create a roadmap for environmental action.

Project Description: 

The term is structured around the development of a research project by groups of students. Weekly topics will be investigated in lecture and case study format jointly by the professor and students . Following the first two weeks of introductory material, the capstone will focus on fieldwork at the Sunnyside School, and discussion of the fieldwork findings in the seminar.  Lectures and case studies presentations will examine the same issues from differing perspectives. Where lectures will emphasize theoretical concepts, and their applications in case studies, student presentations on Thursdays will emphasize how these are being applied, or could be applied in their projects at Sunnyside Environmental School.