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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Designing a Systems Based Curriculum to Develop 21st Century Sustainability Literacy and Communication Skills
by Bernier, Andrew N., Ph.D., Prescott College, 2015, 270; 3714364
Abstract (Summary)

With increasing uncertainty regarding the health of natural ecosystems susceptible to climate change, a growing and diversifying human population is continuing to strain the sustainability of natural resources. How is society to prepare a future citizenry in the age of information and technology to lead though unforeseen sustainability challenges while still using education methods designed for the age of industrialization? In this dissertation, the author proposes a dramatic shift in the intent of curriculum design, arguing to achieve a society competent in sustainability, the traditional industrial model of education must be replaced with models derived from natural systems. The research tests a sustainability curriculum design that mimics the strength of living systems and organic molecular structure, an example of biomimicry. Placing assessment emphasis on competency relationships and not solely assignment completion, students utilized digital technology and communication to develop the emerging 21st century skill of digital media literacy. Following an extensive literature review of voices in critical pedagogy, systems theory, sustainable design, sustainability education and communication, the researcher presents a mixed methodology approach to triangulate data collected from students. Comprised of rubric assessment, student interviews and phenomenological student blogging, the data mapped each student's "molecule" representing their individual sustainability systems thinking. After further data analysis of student academic success and positive experience, the molecular model gives way to a heightened model mimicking cellular structure. The research offers a new tool and evidence to the field of sustainability education while challenging educators to adopt living systems into their own instructional designs.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Clingan, Joan
Commitee: Gould, John, Jenkins, Lee, Williams, Dilafruz
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sustainability, Curriculum development
Keywords: Biomimicry, Communication, Competency, Curriculum, Sustainability
Publication Number: 3714364
ISBN: 978-1-321-91624-9
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