Teachers College offers a wide array of courses on ESE across disciplines and departments. Among the growing list of courses:

Sonali Rajan, Teachers College, Columbia University

This course provides an introduction to the field of environmental health, while focusing upon those environmental factors that affect the health of communities - including biological, physical, and chemical factors. The relationship between the natural and built environments on human health is examined, including both individual and community-wide levels. In addition, the course introduces basic environmental health terms and concepts; identifies sources of environmental pollutants, their means of transmission, and their direct impact on individual and community health; and, discusses current environmental policy and regulation efforts.

Pamela Koch, Teachers College, Columbia University

The purpose of this course is to raise (and begin to answer) questions related to producing enough nutritionally and culturally appropriate foods on a sustainable basis for ourselves and the rest of the world's growing population. Because food is the product of a variety of cooperative arrangements between humans and Nature, its continued production requires, at a minimum, the continued availability of certain environmental inputs. As daily front page headlines make clear, a number of these, including the climate, are presently being stressed by various activities, (including war, preparations for it, and population movements related to it) that are part of "our way of life." Therefore, solving what is casually called "The World Food Problem" is one of the major tasks of our generation. It is the assumption of this course that there are many more aspects to the problem of nourishing the human species than are commonly recognized. The emphasis of the course is on reading, analyzing, questioning — and practicing — how to act responsibly. We remain determined optimists about the possibility of "resolving" the ecological crises of our time.

Oren Pizmony-Levy, Teachers College, Columbia University

Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) is a curricular movement that challenges educational systems to work for more sustainable future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life. This course examines ESE-related policies and practices within a variety of contexts and perspectives. Beginning with an overview of the foundations of ESE, we will explore key issues in the field: (a) the development of ESE policy in different levels (e.g., supranational, national and subnational); (b) the links between ESE and other movements (e.g., environmental education, human rights education and peace education), (c) drivers and barriers that shape ESE policy/practice (e.g., environmental NGOs), and (d) ESE “best practices” and their impact on teaching and learning. Our discussion will be based on variety of literatures including theoretical texts, empirical research, and policy documents.

Oren Pizmony-Levy, Teachers College, Columbia University

Climate change is the most important issue of our generation. It is one of the greatest ecological and social challenges of the twenty-first century. This course introduces key concepts and issues in the science if climate change (e.g., what we know? how we know what we know?). Then, we present sociological research on the human drivers of contemporary climate change, the impact of climate change on societies and education, and the factors that influence individuals and groups to take action. We will also discuss different proposals for addressing climate change and their possible implications to education (e.g., New Green Deal). In addition to lectures and in-class activities, the course includes guest speakers from different stakeholders and field trips.

Denise Mahfood, Teachers College, Columbia University

The adoption of new learning standards over the last few years has provided New York State a perfect opportunity to integrate environmental experiences into standards implementation efforts. In 2017, the New York State adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards emphasize a three-dimensional approach to student learning, incorporating science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. Moreover, the standards are an effective entry point for integration of environmental literacy initiatives. Coyle (2014) notes that the NGSS have major content focus on science as it relates to the environment, namely through energy, nature, climate, sustainability, and the earth. The environment itself is changing rapidly: populations grow, species become threatened, endangered or they are at near extinction, and of course, the human impact cannot be ignored. This course seeks to examine the core topics in environmental science and environmental education. What skills and knowledge should environmental education provide?—this is a central question we’ll explore throughout the course. Students will learn principles from the sciences of ecology and study the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. We will also focus on the importance of environmental education to have individuals use critical thinking skills to support claims rooted in evidence-based research.

Josef Donnelly, Teachers College, Columbia University

In an increasingly interconnected world that faces ecological collapse and continual hyper-consumption of resources it is critical to understand the impact and relationship humans have with the natural world on a global and local level. Understanding humanity’s position and influence in shaping, controlling and exploiting the Earth and its resources is vital if humans want to create a more environmentally just society for the Earth and save themselves from the effects of climate change. This course will explore contemporary and historical ideas about sustainability and environmentalism while also examining socio-political issues such as race, class, gender, citizenship while considering how the environment, historically, but especially during the Anthropocene, shapes history. 

Back to skip to quick links