Sustainable design education in public schooling : case studies analysis of programs integrating place and design

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Perrone, Stephanie L., 1973-

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Education is often viewed as a catalyst of change. Arguably, the future of our Planet is dependent on education that nurtures sustainable ways of thinking and living in our environment. This thesis seeks to argue that in order for abstract principles of sustainability to be understood, individuals need to have opportunities to explore and be a part of designing and experiencing their own places. Specifically, my thesis suggests that high school students in public schools should take an active part of this educational process. To test this theory, I investigated three high school sustainability programs in Austin, Texas that utilize place-based pedagogy. What was realized is that each program envisions sustainability programming that is integrative and experiential, but due to the current mechanistic education system the daily programming can be difficult. This result has led me to theorize that the entire educational system needs to be transformed in order for sustainability education to exist. However, I finally propose a more practical approach, and thus offer twelve generalized heuristic questions for sustainable design educators to consider and assist them in building social capital between themselves and the public school system.