In-Class Exercise

Society, Equity, and Sustainability

SLS approaches sustainability as an integrated system, linking environment, economy, and society. As an initiative focused on “creating sustainable communities,” we especially emphasize the role that SOCIETY plays in sustainability – and particularly issues of social equity and community voice. You can learn about SLS’ approach to sustainable communities here. The purpose of this tool is to help students begin to understand the SOCIETY part of sustainability. It includes two exercises and resources for learning more.

An Introduction to Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure refers to an interconnected, multifunctional network of greenspace and natural areas that shapes and is shaped by environmental, economic, social, and health outcomes in communities. It may refer to a wide array of natural features, engineered structures, or managed interconnected networks of green space and their associated ecosystem services, including parks, stormwater management features, greenways and trails, green streets, and watershed restoration projects, among other types of green spaces.

Community Engagement in Green Infrastructure Planning

In-depth community engagement shapes green infrastructure projects and their impacts on communities. Use this tool to explore the role of community engagement and local knowledge in green infrastructure planning processes. Students will learn the importance of engaging communities in green infrastructure planning for incorporating local knowledge of community assets, needs, and priorities. The discussion questions will aid students in examining the potential opportunities and threats associated with green infrastructure; the importance of community engagement and knowledge sharing in shaping project outcomes; and how green infrastructure planning processes might be designed to prioritize local knowledge of community needs and priorities and to draw on community assets in order to support more sustainable and equitable outcomes.

This tool was contributed by Jessica Fisch. 

An Introduction to Community Health

Community health is the state of wellbeing of a group of individuals who share common attitudes, beliefs, interests, histories, and/or goals. Use this tool to explore what it means to optimize the health and quality of life of community members in a socially just and holistic way. Students will learn the many factors that contribute to the health of individuals and communities, as well as the people and resources that influence the health of a community. The discussion questions will aid students in breaking down the complexities of community health, as well as understanding their role in contributing to potential solutions. The optional workshop adds an experiential learning dimension to these discussions and activities.

 

Calculating Carbon Footprint

This tool enables students to learn more about individual contributions to overall carbon emissions. The assignment also allows students to formulate possible strategies for reducing personal carbon emissions and share their ideas with a greater audience through social media. In addition, consider showing this presentation on Energy and Climate Change Mitigation to help contextualize their work.

This tool was contributed by Jennifer Glass.

SLS Case Study: Edwards Aquifer

The Edwards Aquifer is an artesian aquifer that supplies nearly all of the water in San Antonio, Texas.  In this case study, read about the persistent conflict over limited water resources from the Edwards Aquifer. Learn about the process by which this entrenched water conflict was sustainably resolved, for both human users and the ecosystem as a whole.

This tool was contributed by Kate Pride Brown.

Thinking More About Food, Climate Change, and Sustainability

This awareness building short reading and discussion activity allows students to:

  1. Learn more about the importance of sustainability and the effect of food production on the environment. 
  2. The importance of offering potential solutions for climate change. 
  3. Share ways that they might relay information about this issue to audiences. 

Practice public speaking and reflective reading skills.

Stratification Monopoly: A Comparative Perspective

Some of the major challenges in teaching about economic inequality and mobility are a) understanding the differences between income and wealth, as well as other types of economic resources; b) encouraging students to be empathetic to those who have a different economic standing than their own; c) the connections between income and wealth in producing economic mobility; and d) understanding how the income and wealth distributions across different countries shape opportunity for mobility in a comparative context. The purpose of this tool is to help students begin to understand:

  1. The primary differences in income and wealth, and how they relate to economic mobility; 
  2. How your place in the economic system can affect opportunities for economic mobility;
  3. How variation in the income and wealth distributions of different countries can affect opportunities for economic mobility.

This tool was contributed by Allen Hyde.

Introduction to Equitable and Sustainable Development

This tool uses the Atlanta BeltLine project to introduce students to key concepts in Equitable and Sustainable Development, particularly as it pertains to large infrastructure projects. Through a combination of take-home readings, lecture, and in-class group activity, students will explore the successes, and critiques of the BeltLine project. Equally important, they will learn to define what infrastructure means, what it does, and how we can impact its development in order to achieve equity and sustainability.

This tool was created by Bethany Jacobs and Dave Ederer. 

Cross-Cultural Communication

This activity, adapted from D.M. Stringer and P.A. Cassidy’s 52 Activities for Improving Cross-Cultural Communication, introduces students to three primary patterns of communication pacing. These patterns can vary in different cultural groups. Learning how different people use different styles will shed light on how students perceive each other.

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