Home‎ > ‎Curriculum‎ > ‎

From Climate Action Plan goals (February 2010)

Integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience

Sustainability a Key Part of the Curriculum

Faculty have spearheaded a broad curriculum effort to incorporate environmental issues or issues of ecological literacy into more courses. A recent study shows that instructors in close to 50 Cabrillo sections currently raise environmental issues in their classes. These disciplines range from courses where such issues would be expected (e.g., biology, meteorology, oceanography), to the less obvious (e.g., English, foreign languages, culinary arts). At least a dozen courses currently offered at Cabrillo College meet a substantial number of the criteria proposed to qualify as courses for meeting an Ecological Literacy requirement. Other curriculum-related efforts included in Cabrillo’s Climate Action Plan:

  • Core Competencies: Specific language concerning environmental issues was instituted into the “Global Awareness” objective of our Core Four, college-wide student competencies.
  • Ecological Literacy: Faculty leaders in this effort have been in the process of creating and proposing an Ecological Literacy requirement for graduation, using our Multicultural Literacy Requirement as a template. At least a dozen courses currently offered at Cabrillo College meet a substantial number of the criteria and would likely qualify as courses for meeting the Ecological Literacy requirement.
  • Environmental Studies Program: Faculty leaders are considering steps toward developing a more comprehensive Environmental Studies program, including specific certificates and additional classes.
  • New Courses Offered: At least two new courses related to sustainability were offered in Spring 2008: the Solar Photovoltaic Design course in CEM, and the Sustainable Cultures course in ANTHR.
  • Hands-On Learning Opportunities: Cooperative Work Experience Education (CWEE) units to students participated in Cabrillo’s first emissions inventory, and will continue to participate in developing and implementing Cabrillo’s Climate Action Plan. Instructors are working on a proposal for student participation in the installation of working, grid-tied PV panels on the Cabrillo campus.

Cabrillo’s 2008-2011 Master Plan includes an objective to “Develop interdisciplinary curricula for at least four courses with global sustainability, community service, and/or social justice themes.” The goal is to create four new courses by 2011. To date, ES50: Local Sustainability Research and Solutions” and HS24: Environmental Health curriculum were approved February, 2009 as well as the expansion of Anthr19G: Surviving the Future: the (Re)Emergence of Sustainable Cultures.

More “Flex Week” presentations are planned to help instructors incorporate interdisciplinary themes of global sustainability, social justice and community service into existing classes.

The Horticulture Department, spearheaded by instructors including CITF member Lisa McAndrews, is currently installing a paver patio outside the Horticulture Learning Center to serve as an outdoor classroom and community resource. The plans also will include rain gardens to reduce storm water runoff, living wall panels on the outside of the Horticulture Learning Center and rainwater catchment of 9,000 gallons minimum adjacent to the Horticulture Learning Center, with an additional minimum 1,000 gallons captured and reused adjacent to & in the greenhouses. In co-operation with Construction and Energy Management, a green roof shade structure will be constructed over the new patio. The Horticulture Department is beginning to explore the requirements for LEED-EB (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Existing Building) Certification as we currently have various types of permeable paving, responsible irrigation system and practices, integrated pest management inside and outside of the building, appropriate plant material selection, stormwater management in the form of a detention pond that holds runoff from the parking lost and buildings, and soon the features already listed that contribute points to qualify for LEED status. The Cabrillo Horticulture farm has recently begun to supply food it grows organically to the Cabrillo Cafeteria, the Culinary Arts program and off-campus store.

The innovative STEEP Summer Energy Academy is a month-long Cabrillo laboratory course for Cabrillo students and recent high school seniors interested in hands-on learning who want to gain the skills needed for work in the booming solar, wind and other renewable and efficient energy fields. Students learn about circuits and the physics and math behind electricity and energy on a “just-in-time” basis, following the lead of Gerald Herder, of Cal Poly, Pomona Engineering Department, whose students learn a lot of physics, electrical theory, practical math and engineering in a solar boat competition. The capstone activity of the Academy involves a community service project. At the Energy Fair, open to the public, students display their projects and demonstrate what they have learned about energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy sources to create public awareness. This exciting program offers interesting and useful curriculum, working closely with the Climate Initiative Task Force to accomplish Cabrillo’s emissions reduction goals.

Grant application submitted January 2010, for Engaged Interdisciplinary Learning in Sustainability (EILS): Enhancing STEM Education through Social and Technological Literacy in cooperation with UCSC, to support assistance with integrating new sustainability learning modules into existing courses; if funded, to begin August 2010.