Sustaining Future Environmental Educators: Building Critical Interdisciplinary Students

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Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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Scholars of environmental studies and sciences must work across disciplinary boundaries, especially in politically charged contexts with clear race and class-based inequities. Sustainability-focused programs are confronted with the task of creating opportunities for interdisciplinary, experiential learning to incorporate such complexities into undergraduate teaching. Yet, despite being the next generation of environmental science and sustainability faculty, graduate students have limited opportunities to learn how to develop interdisciplinary curriculum that incorporates real-world learning in courses for undergraduate students. This paper examines the development of an interdisciplinary undergraduate course at Portland State University that provided space for graduate students to build their interdisciplinary teaching and pedagogical capacities, while introducing undergraduate students to environmental planning and environmental justice concepts crucial to understanding large-scale urban river restoration projects. Using the methods of translational and action research, the authors developed a pedagogical praxis in a co-facilitated course, via reflection on their own training in an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The paper presents a model for graduate student teacher training that equips graduate students—and the undergraduates they will teach throughout the course of their careers—to address today’s most pressing socio-ecological challenges.


©AESS 2020



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