Professional Development Opportunity

A limited number of spots are available for a 4-day sustainability workshop. The workshop is intended for middle school, high school, and community college teachers with students that may pursue or are pursuing STEM technical degrees. Preference will be given to interdisciplinary pairs of applicants (e.g., one science and one language arts instructor), but individuals will also be considered. An $800 stipend and STEM clock hours will be offered (pending approval of NEW ESD 101 proposal). Lunch, snacks, and coffee will be provided. The workshop will be held June 19-22, 8:30-3:15, at Spokane Falls Community College in Spokane, WA.

If you are interested in attending the workshop, please contact Scott Rollins (

Teaching Sustainability through Problem-Based Learning Communities

Research suggests that green economy is growing largely through the integration of sustainability into existing job rather than through the development of a separate, well-defined green jobs subsector. In addition, regional industry leaders have suggested that the demand for STEM technicians with skills necessary to compete in today’s green economy is outpacing supply. In this four day summer workshop funded by the National Science Foundation, we will discuss fundamental concepts of sustainability and systems thinking, why these matter to businesses, and how to integrate sustainability into the curriculum through problem-based learning communities.

Day one of this workshop will introduce the concepts of sustainability and systems thinking utilizing group discussions and hands-on activities. Participants will be provided resources and examples for introducing sustainability and systems thinking into their curriculum. Day one will end with an introduction to problem-based learning.

Day two of the workshop will explore methods for managing a problem-based learning classroom and how to assess student work in problem-based learning. Hands-on examples, exercises, and additional resources will be provided. Teachers will finish the day by developing or adapting a problem to integrate sustainability for use in their own classes.

Day three of the workshop will introduce interdisciplinary learning communities as an instructional approach through readings, discussions, and hands-on activities. Participants will be introduced to different forms of learning communities, the benefits of using learning communities, and how to assess integrative assignments. The day will end with teaching teams developing interdisciplinary, integrative sustainability assignments.

Day four of the workshop, participants will hear from a panel of industry partners and spend most of the day developing problem-based learning community assignments or modules that integrate sustainability. The goal is to have at least one assignment that can be implemented in the following academic year.

Often, just having the time to work together on curriculum development can be a challenge. We will provide lunch, snacks, a location, and support for teams that wish to continue working on their assignments on Friday.

Workshop instructors will facilitate the formation of industry partnerships to help teachers develop more authentic learning experiences for students. This support will extend beyond the workshop.

This training will also provide…

resources and examples (binder, books, online)

an $800 stipend for those that develop an assignment or learning community implementing the approaches and concepts covered by the workshop

snacks, coffee, and lunch

up to 24 STEM clock hours, pending approval of NEW ESD 101 proposal


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1400699.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.