Never have we needed more hands to build bridges between theory and practice. Sustainability is fundamentally about what we can do now to take care of future generations, an endeavor that requires more and deeper connections among people across the globe. While concerned equally with human and nonhuman life, sustainability is mired in human relationships.
Such problems cannot be solved by classroom teaching alone. Educational tools must strengthen social fabrics, make learning relevant to lived challenges, and enable us to more creatively confront the messes we have made…even the ones we don’t yet know how to clean up.
That is why we are launching a pilot “Citizen Sustainability Certificate” program, featuring some of our best case studies. They have been used in University of Michigan classrooms or field and lab settings. We have gathered information from teachers, students and practitioners about what worked well and what didn’t. We have revised and relaunched them, and now they are ready for you—for all of us.
The three case studies we have selected for this year are all focused on aspects of water quality: drinking water, stormwater, and recreational waters. They will help you understand complex scientific concepts and impart citizenship skills by encouraging cross site comparative thinking, intercultural collaboration, critical analysis, and communication.
What’s the path to sustainable stormwater management in Washtenaw County?Read Now
Who should deal with the groundwater contamination in a university town?Read Now
Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t: should Pellston remove its historic dam?Read Now
For those who complete these three water cases, the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability will confer a certificate at next year’s Galaxy event. At that time, a new slate of three cases will launch for certification. Climate change? Wildlife management? Renewable energy? Join us in establishing the priority list, producing the modules themselves, and then improving them.
We built Gala, the website that hosts the cases you’ll read, to collect teaching cases on sustainability, and to enable collaboration across the world. Anyone can create, publish, and continually update a case about any topic they want. We named it for an apple variety commonly grown in Michigan. But the name also evokes a party where people come together to combine their resources for innovative work in the world. Because making cleaner, safer, more efficient and resilient systems for water, food, waste, energy, transport, recreation, and more is worth celebrating—and worth supporting. And so we invite you to join us in learning and teaching, and to be the hands that build bridges.