Dr. Relena Ribbons, Geosciences, Lawrence University

Introductory Environmental Science

I attended Valley and Ridge to gain a broader perspective on sustainability from outside the sciences, as a means of stepping back to take stock on my introduction to environmental science course. While some of my students attend the course out of a deep passion for studying the natural world, some are in the class to fulfil their science and lab requirement. I wanted to touch base with a group of individuals who teach about sustainability, but in a wide range of disciplines. By attending Valley and Ridge I hoped to expand my own views on how to effectively introduce sustainability as a topic to my students, and gain exposure to a range of pedagogical approaches for teaching sustainability.

After the workshop I incorporated feedback from fellow participants to streamline my course, scale back on the multiple learning styles I was using, and hone in on a few major themes within environmental science and sustainability. One specific activity that I am now using early on in the course is specifically going to provide space for students to discuss and define sustainability for themselves. I am incorporating a gallery walk with student images of sustainability posted around our classroom, where I will have students discuss the images they selected both in class and in written form. This is one means by which I can provide classroom space for students to feel heard and valued, but also as a means of demonstrating that their active participation in this classroom is an integral component to their success in the class.