First Advisor

Dilafruz Williams

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Education: Policy, Foundation and Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




Environmental education, Educational leadership, Sustainability, Service learning -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Oregon -- Portland, Community education -- Oregon -- Portland, Portland State University -- Public services, Environmental responsibility -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 197 p.) : ill.


Sustainability has emerged in mainstream higher education over the last few years, and the fields of community-based learning and sustainability education are closely linked through their emphases on active, experiential learning in place-based contexts. In order to create ecologically literate citizens to more adequately address environmental problems, there is a logical connection between teaching about sustainability and engaging students in the community, which can serve as a relevant forum to address sustainability issues. However, there is a problem in that educational programs and courses dealing directly with sustainability topics across the higher education landscape often do not emphasize or include experiential, community-based elements. Understanding this relationship is crucial to advance the field of sustainability with meaningful community engagement. This research investigated the pedagogical strategies and frameworks that are foundational in undergraduate capstone courses that include sustainability education and community-based learning. A sample of five community-based, interdisciplinary senior capstone courses at Portland State University was examined through semi-structured interviews with course instructors and syllabi review. Three broad themes emerged as common values among the instructors: connectedness and relationships, community and place, and diversity and inclusiveness. Reflection was a tool utilized universally by instructors to personalize the learning process, cultivate understanding of connectedness and relationships, and incorporate feelings into the learning process. Competencies and skills related to sustainability and those related to civic engagement were very similar; engagement in community is a sustainable practice. This study provides cogent support for the notion that achieving meaningful, transformative sustainability learning requires community-based learning.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Educational Leadership and Policy

Persistent Identifier