Teaching Sustainability Using Sustainable Minds
Project Coordinator, Sustainable Minds
June - August 2012
About the Project:
One of my projects my first summer working for Sustainable Minds was to contribute to the Sustainable Minds Curriculum Library by acquiring example curriculum from educators using the software in their courses to teach sustainability and life cycle thinking. I summarized my findings and insights from collecting curriculum in a post to the Sustainable Minds Industry blog.

About Sustainable Minds:
http://www.sustainableminds.com

Sustainable Minds has developed a cloud-based, stream-lined life cycle assessment (LCA) tool used in early product development to aid in creating environmentally-sustainable designs. Sustainable Minds makes it easy to estimate, evaluate, compare, and improve products' environmental performance during concept development by integrating life cycle thinking and LCA into the product development process. Sustainable Minds is increasingly being used in at universities around the world in classrooms teaching sustainability and life cycle thinking. 
I first discovered Sustainable Minds in Spring 2012 when I was a grader in a Sustainable Manufacturing course. The students in this course were given an assignment using Sustainable Minds and I was thrilled with the discovery. Sustainable Minds was right in line with my interests in design and sustainability. What interested me was how the software was designed for comparisons and design iterations. I also explored the Learning Center and was excited to read about the Ecodesign strategies, as I have participated in a research project examining Design for Environment principles.

In adding to the SM Curriculum Library, it was interesting to see the range of courses that have used Sustainable Minds: Business, Design, and Engineering education, plus an outlier – a Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability. The library is to be used as a resource for professors getting started and those who want to find new ways to teach using the software.

I observed that many of the courses:

1. Encourage a holistic perspective of product design
Some of the courses prepared students to address product design from a broader, more holistic perspective. In addition, environmental responsibility was sometimes integrated into the core of the design process.

2. Inspire change within organizations
In some courses, there was a focus on sustainability in organizations and exploring the processes and strategies for creating sustainable change within organizations. For example, one course included a module on ‘Making the Case for Sustainability Internally and Externally.’

From these observations, two overarching themes emerged:
1. Empowering Sustainability Leadership – This was reiterated in a number of the courses. Sustainability leadership is defined in one as ‘To demonstrate behaviors recognizable as those of an influential leader of positive change through varying spheres of influence from the self, to the team, to the organization and ultimately to the system. Influences change by building on competencies of personal power and efficacy, relationship management, a results orientation, adaptability and agility, and highly ethical and social justice orientations.’ (Presidio Graduate School, “Operations and Production” (SUS 6110)).

2. Embedding Interdisciplinary Practices – I found that many of these courses were interdisciplinary in ways beyond what I expected. For example, some of the courses were not only comprised of students from a variety of disciplines but were also taught by teachers from different departments who collaborated to create the course. These courses were interdisciplinary in their creation, the method in which they were taught, and in the students they educated.

In conclusion, I found that Sustainable Minds is being used to teach sustainability in a variety of disciplines, and in ways that were unexpected. The software is thought of as practical and tangible, and is inspiring a lot of new kinds of thinking. As we’ve learned how Sustainable Minds is being used, we've consistently found that both faculty and students have been excited, challenged, invigorated, and are thinking and collaborating in new ways. 
You can read the full blog post on Sustainable Minds' Industry Blog by clicking here.
Teaching Sustainability Using Sustainable Minds
0
40
0
Published:

Teaching Sustainability Using Sustainable Minds

One of my projects while working at Sustainable Minds during the summer of 2012 was to assemble a curriculum library of examples of Sustainable M Read More
0
40
0
Published:

Creative Fields