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"Planning for Sustainability" class bridges teaching and practice

EPPL Sustainability ClassStudents in the EPPL751 summer colloquium on "Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability," conducted by Shannon Chance, PhD 2010, got hands-on experience with green planning and design.

Students toured the VIMS Teaching Marsh, four LEED-rated school facilities, a waste-management facility, and three solar homes. They interviewed experts, dissected sustainability plans, researched environmental education programs, hosted guest speakers, explored sustainable landscapes, designed their own sustainability initiatives, conducted peer reviews, and learned the "ins and outs" of green building.

"Teaching classes in the summer offers a unique opportunity for hands-on engagement with the subject," explained Dr. Chance, who is an architect and LEED Accredited Professional. There is more flexibility in scheduling, she says, and the weather is ideal for field trips.

"Our readings indicated that providing good day light in classrooms improves test scores, for instance. In this class, students also got to see various ways that can be accomplished and meet the people who are making it happen around Hampton Roads."

True to the tenets of social construction, students in the class researched pertinent issues and reported them in class. They determined much of the course content and they even helped construct the final exam. For the final project, each student designed a program to be implemented in his or her current job. By participating in a full range of activities, they not only got to study planning – they also had the chance to plan and to carry out educational plans at various scales.

"I have never had a class that was so student centered," Laura Soerensson explained. "I enjoyed also having input from the beginning concerning our readings and field trips." 

Studying daylighting features on the green roof at the Renaissance Academy with Tim Cole, Director of Sustainability for Virginia Beach Public Schools.

Garden Atriums

Learning about sustainable design and planning at the Garden Atriums in Poquoson from architect Stuart Rose, PhD.

Water Purification

Learning about water purification at the Garden Atriums in Poquoson from architect Stuart Rose, PhD.