Courses

Courses


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

rajan@tc.columbia.edu

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

pkoch@tc.columbia.edu

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

pizmony-levy@tc.columbia.edu

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

pizmony-levy@tc.columbia.edu

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.

Raksha Vasudevan, Teachers College, Columbia University

rv2451@tc.columbia.edu 

This course focuses on how to build local partnerships to to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Special focus will be placed on the role and potential of educational institutions to serve as community anchors for collaboration and partnership-building.

Regina Cortina, Teachers College, Columbia University

cortina@tc.columbia.edu

In this graduate seminar, we will explore the application of decolonial theories to advance new perspectives and knowledge in comparative education. We will read the work of scholars such as Walter Mignolo, Arturo Escobar, Catherine Walsh, and Boaventura de Sousa Santos, among others. We will frame the discussion within relevant theories and contexts, such as internal colonialism and Indigenous ways of knowing. Among the issues to be discussed are the rights of Indigenous peoples to education and the preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity of peoples across the world. Topics include the right to education, the nature of citizenship, intercultural and bilingual education, Indigenous resistance, and decolonizing methodologies. An overarching goal is the discussion of national policies to improve access, teacher training, and intercultural understanding at all levels of education.

Denise Mahfood, Teachers College, Columbia University

dm2564@tc.columbia.edu

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

jad2221@tc.columbia.edu

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. 

Thomas James, Professor of History and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

tj2180@tc.columbia.edu

Learning through experience is the oldest and perhaps the deepest way to educate human beings. Even now, it is the earliest kind of learning for young children. The interplay of learning through experience and what comes later, formal education, is a complex and ever-changing dynamic. This seminar takes a historical perspective to explore how that dynamic changed with the rise of mass schooling, industrialization, urbanization, and advances in technology and communications. Special attention will be given to initiatives aiming to promote learning through experience amidst the ever-expanding built world and the standardization and regimentation of formal education. The seminar examines the history of efforts to foster learning settings that integrate direct experience, spontaneity, creativity, self-discovery, cooperation and adventure more fully into the education of children and young adults. A framing question for the seminar is whether the pedagogy of experience can be harnessed effectively to the aims of civic participation and social justice in a highly unequal society, leading to changes that can ensure greater equity and flourishing for all people, social groups, and the natural world.

In addition to these courses, Teachers College is also offering professional development opportunities about sustainability. Check out recent opportunities below. 

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