Lesson Planet: Teaching Sustainability Educator’s Workshop

Friday, February 12, 2016

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Nittany Lion Inn, Boardroom 2, Penn State

University Park, PA

This workshop is designed to bring together K-12 teachers, administrators, and university scholars, those who share a passion in teaching children that environmental sustainability, renewable energy and innovation are fundamental goals for our collective futures. To register, e-mail

Schedule of Events

List of presentations

Welcome and Introduction 

Dr. Sophia McClennen, Director, Center for Global Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature and International Affairs

Dr. Sophia McClennen is an established scholar in the fields of globalization, human rights, and media studies. She has published nine books and over 60 scholarly essays; she serves on 10 editorial boards and is on executive committees for three scholarly associations. Dr. McClennen has conducted research on education and international area studies, with particular attention to how multidisciplinary approaches enhance understanding of global issues. She is one of the nation’s leading experts on the connections between satire, democracy, and the public sphere. She regularly lectures on cultural identity, ethics, and cross-cultural communication, and she is working on a method for minimizing the role of cultural bias in conflict. Dr. McClennen teaches courses in cultures of globalization, human rights culture, cross-cultural conflict resolution, global media, the cultures of displaced peoples, cultural trade policy, and theories of globalization. Her most recent book is The Routledge Companion to Human Rights and Literature (2015), co-edited with Alexandra Schultheis Moore, which includes over 50 contributions to the topic.  She also recently published, Is Satire Saving our Nation?  Mockery and American Politics (Palgrave 2014), co-authored with Penn State communications undergraduate Remy Maisel, and Neoliberalism, Terrorism, Education (Paradigm 2013), which she co-wrote with Jeffrey Di Leo, Henry Giroux, and Kenneth Saltman.

Powering Sustainability: The Good News on Energy, the Environment and Our Future

Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences

Session description: We are the first generation that knows how to build a sustainable energy system that is economical, environmental, and ethical. Solving this great challenge can increase employment and expand access to energy. Failure to solve this challenge risks damaging climate change as well as long-term energy scarcity. Dr. Alley will provide the key background information, and then lead a discussion and exploration of the major issues.

Dr. Richard Alley is a glaciologist with training in geology and materials science from Ohio State and Wisconsin. He studies the flow and stability of ice sheets, their climate records, and the way they interact with the landscape. Dr. Alley’s discovery that climate change can occur abruptly over decades, rather than over long time scales, and his ability to convey this to the public through his popular writing make him an important figure in climate change. He is the author of more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, several textbooks, and two popular books, The Two-Mile Time Machine:  Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future (Princeton Press, 2000) and Earth--The Operators’ Manual, (Norton, 2011). He was the host of PBS’s three part series, Earth—The Operators’ Manual. A prolific researcher, Dr. Alley finds time to talk to school children as well as the media and to teach graduate and undergraduate geoscience course offerings at Penn State. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a foreign member of the Royal Society (UK), a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, and the Geological Society of America. Dr. Alley received the 2015 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Climate Change, as well as the 2009 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.  

Dr. Alley used to spend a lot of time on ice sheets; now, he cheers for students going to the field and stays home to teach, and communicate with the public and policymakers. He likes to bicycle and play soccer and spend time with his family.

Resolved: Climate Change is Not a Crisis

Dr. Peter Buckland, Postdoctoral Fellow, Sustainability Institute

Session description: In this presentation, I recount my attempt to get around the thorny “worldview backfire effects” that climate change elicits. I narrate an email exchange I had with a parent who was dismissive of anthropogenic climate change—a geologist nonetheless—and my teaching strategy.  In particular, I crafted an Oxford style debate on the resolution, “Climate change is not a crisis” because of my research and understanding in risk perception in psychology and science communication. The presentation will be of interest to people interested in science education, civic and deliberative education, communication, and the social sciences.

Peter Buckland works on academic programming at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. He curates The Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability, coordinates special programs and presentations for sustainability and assists with the Sustainability Leadership minor, faculty development and co-teaching Foundations of Sustainability and Leadership. Peter has communicated widely on sustainability, environmental issues, education, and music in popular and peer-reviewed press ranging from Green Jobs for a New Economy, The Yale Cultural Cognition Project, Reviews of the National center for Science Education, International Journal of Illich Studies, and others.  In 2015, Peter received his Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Policy.  His dissertation, The Unsuspected Teachers: Environmental Identity and Sustainability Education in the Anthropocene combined qualitative research on sustainability education policy entrepreneurs’ environmental identities with poetry and memoir. It sought to uncover trajectories to foment deeper sustainability cultures in colleges and universities.

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