Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sustainability in Schools Simulation Game


Overview

The Sustainability in Schools Game is a fun way to expose teachers and administrators to Education for Sustainability, the process of integrating sustainability into schools and uncover opportunities for the school. It helps schools identify sustainability-related practices (e.g., that save energy and water, reduce waste, or improve student health) that have the best return on investment, the biggest bang-for-the-buck or time invested. 

Educators are dealt a set of cards from a deck of 45 Sustainability Project Cards (covering waste, water, energy, purchasing and food).  They identify the practices or projects that make the most sense for their school and organize them into a two-year plan.

This game focuses on operations because implementing sustainability can, if wisely done, save the school money and engage the community. However, players also explore how these sustainable practices can be woven into classroom instruction.

This game really helped us uncover what was already happening in different classrooms and what the teachers wanted to work on next. We set priorities and we all left inspired to embed sustainability into all our work with students.
—Lisa Hirsch, Sedona Charter School

Teams are scored on their ability to pick sustainability-related projects with the lowest net cost and the biggest sustainability benefits. The game and debrief take approximately 2 hours so can easily be used for professional development during in-service training.

The exercise itself is intended to exemplify student-centered learning and provide ideas for project-based learning. It can also be used with Middle- and High School students.

Watch this video to see how the game works:


Watch this video for detailed instructions for running the game:


Description

Participants are broken into teams and given a stack of cards which have sustainability-related school projects with associated sustainability benefits and costs (time and money, along with projected cost savings). Participants have a budget and must choose amongst the project options to build a two year Sustainability Project Plan. Teams are scored on the Cost-Benefit of their plan. Participants also examine ways to use their projects as learning opportunities, identifying where they can be inserted into the curriculum. The game can be played at several levels of challenge, including creating a 5 year plan for a fully-sustainable, net-zero-everything school.


Audience

  • Teachers and/or administrators who want to begin integrating sustainability practices into school operations and use those practices as learning opportunities. K-12.
  • Sustainability coordinators at schools
  • Professors of Education and their students at teachers' colleges who want to understand how to integrate sustainability into their careers.

Prerequisites

A basic familiarity with the term sustainability

An interest in integrating it into the school system

Learning objective(s)

  • Explore how sustainability practices can be applied in schools
  • Assess the appropriateness of various sustainability operational practices in terms of costs and sustainability-related benefits
  • (Optional) Reinforce and apply The Natural Step System Conditions, a systems- and science-based framework for understanding sustainability
  • Identify ways to use those practices as learning opportunities for students
  • Select ideas that are worthy of consideration for implementation within 12 months at the participants own school.
Click here to DOWNLOAD the game files:
  • PowerPoint to plan and facilitate the activity
  • PDF of the cards (4-up; print one set per team of approx 6 people and then cut) 
  • MS Word Worksheet (print one per team of approx 6 people)
For more information about the framework upon which the cards are built:
  • The Natural Step (main site; look for principles or system conditions) http://www.thenaturalstep.org//
  • Sustainability Illustrated (short videos) https://www.youtube.com/user/learnsustainability

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sustainability in Schools—Come to our June 8 event

Ta Da! Our Sustainability in Schools simulation is now available! 

Learn how to find sustainability-related projects that make business sense and how to use them as teaching tools.

We are going to host a Summer Sustainability Sampler in June (a half day workshop, tentatively June 8, 2015) in Sedona for teachers and administrators. We'll play the game and Verde Valley School will talk about their experiences with sustainability. You'll get all the materials to run the game in your own school. Click here for more information or register below.





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Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.



We are licensing it under the Creative Commons, making it free to others to use and modify for non-commercial purposes. Contact us if you want to use the game or if you want to be invited to the Summer Sustainability Sampler.  

SustainabilityAllianceAZ@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

There's now a name for what we are: Sustainability Management Association

Recently, EcoDistricts released their Top 10 Trends and one was Sustainability Management Associations. In the past, organizations have had Sustainability Management Systems to manage their transition toward sustainability. But now it appears there is a formal corollary practice for communities. It's exactly what the Sustainability Alliance was formed to do.

Here's what we've learned so far...

This is an emerging practice. A google search is not very helpful. The term is too new. But here is what EcoDistricts says (with my bolding for emphasis). Click here to see their original blog post which includes some other exciting innovations including Crowd Resourcing.

Sustainability Management Associations

Here's how Ecodistricts defines SMA's.
Making change happen goes beyond simply preparing a plan. Implementation and lasting success need to be core planning objectives in city planning offices, and that requires a smart governance structure. The Sustainability Management Association (SMA) is a model to build and sustain long-term leadership, capacity and governance on all matters related to sustainability over time within a precinct or neighborhood. The model is based on a collaborative governance approach. There is a sharing of power, decision-making, and project development (funding). No one entity does or should do it all. The SMA ensures that change is guided by strong sustainability goals and metrics, and that performance is monitored and results are reported. This allows stakeholders effectively and accurately determine progress and performance and identify opportunities for continual improvements. The SMA, through its function of building a shared vision and set of integrated sustainability targets for the precinct or neighborhood, is required to coordinate the sustainability efforts and actions of diverse stakeholders within a community. The SMA becomes the dedicated entity to guide the sustainability investments for the precinct or neighborhood. As cities across North America (Portland, Charleston NC, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Ottawa) actively pursue opportunities for SMA-type arrangements in their urban regeneration projects, there is a genuine commitment to advancing governance models that will support collective impact.

What is Collaborative Governance?

If you follow the Collaborative Governance link, you’ll get this description from the National Policy Consensus Center, Policy Consensus Initiative:


Leaders engaging with all sectors—public, private, non-profit, citizens, and others—to develop effective, lasting solutions to public problems that go beyond what any sector could achieve on its own.

What results does it produce?

The best public solutions come from people working together on issues. Collaborative governance takes as its starting point the idea that working together creates more lasting, effective solutions.

Lasting—Solutions developed through collaborative governance won't simply be undone in the next year or legislative session.
Effective—The collaborative governance approach ensures that the realities of the situation are considered and discussed; decisions are not made in a vacuum.
More buy-in—From the outset, all with a stake are involved in authentic ways; all have a role in the final agreement.

Why is it needed?


Accelerating change
Overlapping institutions and jurisdictions
Increasing complexity
A need to integrate policies and resources
How is this different from "government?"

"Governance" is the process by which public ends and means are identified, agreed upon, and pursued. This is different than "government," which relates to the specific jurisdiction in which authority is exercised. "Governance" is a broader term and encompasses both formal and informal systems of relationships and networks for decision making and problem solving.

What does it take?

Collaborative governance requires three elements:

Sponsor- an agency, foundation, civic organization, public-private coalition, etc. to initiate and provide support
Convener/Leader- a governor, legislator, local official, respected civic leader, etc. with power to bring diverse people together to work on common problems
Neutral Forum- an impartial organization or venue, etc. to provide and ensure skilled process managament
 
How does it work?

The System integrates the principles and network to assure an effective collaborative governance process:
  • Sponsors identify and raise an issue
  • Assessment is made on the feasibility for collaboration and who needs to be involved
  • Leader(s) convene all needed participants
  • Participants adopt this framework for addressing the issue
  • Conveners and participants frame (or reframe) the issue for deliberation
  • Neutral forum/facilitator designs and conducts a process to negotiate interests and integrate resources
  • Written agreement establishes accountability
  • Sponsors identify and raise an issue or opportunity that calls for a collaborative response
This collaborative governance system can work anywhere as long as several key principles are adhered to: transparency; equity and inclusiveness; effectiveness and efficiency; responsiveness; accountability; forum neutrality; and consensus-based decision making.


Collective Impact

The link to Collective Impact takes you to an article by the Stanford Social Innovation Review about Strive, a nonprofit in Ohio focused on education. But this passage is relevant to our work. I’ve bolded a couple places.

Why has Strive made progress when so many other efforts have failed? It is because a core group of community leaders decided to abandon their individual agendas in favor of a collective approach to improving student achievement. More than 300 leaders of local organizations agreed to participate, including the heads of influential private and corporate foundations, city government officials, school district representatives, the presidents of eight universities and community colleges, and the executive directors of hundreds of education-related nonprofit and advocacy groups.

These leaders realized that fixing one point on the educational continuum—such as better after-school programs—wouldn’t make much difference unless all parts of the continuum improved at the same time. No single organization, however innovative or powerful, could accomplish this alone. Instead, their ambitious mission became to coordinate improvements at every stage of a young person’s life, from “cradle to career.”

Strive didn’t try to create a new educational program or attempt to convince donors to spend more money. Instead, through a carefully structured process, Strive focused the entire educational community on a single set of goals, measured in the same way. Participating organizations are grouped into 15 different Student Success Networks (SSNs) by type of activity, such as early childhood education or tutoring. Each SSN has been meeting with coaches and facilitators for two hours every two weeks for the past three years, developing shared performance indicators, discussing their progress, and most important, learning from each other and aligning their efforts to support each other.

Strive, both the organization and the process it helps facilitate, is an example of collective impact, the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem. Collaboration is nothing new. The social sector is filled with examples of partnerships, networks, and other types of joint efforts. But collective impact initiatives are distinctly different. Unlike most collaborations, collective impact initiatives involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants.

Sustainability in Schools Card Game Description

Overview

This instructional game, a card game, is a fun way to expose teachers and administrators to Education for Sustainability, the process of integrating sustainability into schools. This game focuses on operations more than curriculum because implementing sustainability can, if wisely done, save the school money and engage the community. However, the game does explore how these sustainable practices can be woven into classroom instruction.

The game and debrief take approximately 2 hours so can easily be used for professional development during in-service training.

The exercise itself is intended to exemplify student-centered learning and provide ideas for project-based learning. It can also be used with Middle- and High School students.

Sample cards

Description

Participants are broken into teams and given a stack of cards which have sustainability-related school projects with associated sustainability benefits and costs (time and money, along with projected cost savings). Participants have a budget and must choose amongst the project options to build a two year Sustainability Project Plan. Teams are scored on the Cost-Benefit of their plan. Participants also examine ways to use their projects as learning opportunities, identifying where they can be inserted into the curriculum.

Audience

Teachers and/or administrators who want to begin integrating sustainability practices into school operations and use those practices as learning opportunities. K-12.

Prerequisites:
  • A basic familiarity with the term sustainability
  • An interest in integrating it into the school system
  • Learning objective(s)
  • Explore how sustainability practices can be applied in schools

Learning Objectives

  • Assess the appropriateness of various sustainability operational practices in terms of costs and sustainability-related benefits
  • Become familiar with The Natural Step System Conditions, a systems- and science-based framework for understanding sustainability
  • Identify ways to use those practices as learning opportunities for students
  • Select ideas that are worthy of consideration for implementation within 12 months at the participants own school.
The game is licensed under the Creative Commons. You must share any updates with us and it cannot be used for commercial purposes. If you want to download the simulation free, contact us. Since it is still undergoing testing, we want to have a way to keep in touch. Contact us if you want us to facilitate this simulation for you. SustainabilityAllianceAZ@gmail.com

Sustainability in Schools Card Game

Instructional Game: One of the projects under the Alliance** is an effort to get sustainability into the school systems. Our two surveys (to AZ school administrators and teachers) showed us that there was a need for some in-service training on this topic.
So we have drafted an instructional game which we can then take into schools to show them how they can take on sustainability related projects to save money and also teach students about sustainability concepts. We plan to set up in-service sessions in the upcoming school year.
Click here for a full description.
It’s a card game where teachers and administrators in teams choose amongst a wide range of possible sustainability-related projects that are rated based on sustainability benefits and cost+time involved, along with savings the projects might generate. Teams create a two year plan (which is evaluated based on net costs and benefits) and then identify how these projects could be woven into the curriculum. We are in the process of testing and refining the game. See the samples in the image below.



** With the participation of the Verde Valley School as well as Gardens for Humanity and Sedona Recycles


HOW YOU CAN HELP: Let us know if you have a contact in a school that might want to have this training.

Systems analysis of our impacts

After using The Natural Step's system conditions to identify negative environmental and social impacts in our area, we analyzed the relationship between our community systems (eg, energy, governance, housing, water) and the negative impacts. While we were looking at the greater Sedona area, we took responsibility not only for our direct actions (like using energy or water) as well as the life cycle impacts of major purchases; so for example, we assumed we should take responsibility for the impacts elsewhere of the food we buy and use here.

The biggest drivers of impacts


As a result of this analysis, we found the community systems responsible for most of the impacts were in order of impact (based on the number of times the system was found to be a major driver of impacts):

  • Lifestyle (eg, part time residents; choices about size of home, energy, water, landscaping, etc.) (11)
  • Housing (the efficiency of the housing stock as well as location) (9)
  • Food (impacts associated with ag and grazing) (8)
  • Water (sourcing, use and pollution) (7)
  • Waste (solid waste and waste water, absence of household hazardous waste disposal options) (6)

The biggest social/environmental impacts our area contributes to are:

  • Climate change (9)
  • Water (5)
  • Citizenship (lack of involvement and participation of citizens in local governance) (5)
  • Plastics (largely driven by food) (4)
  • Farmland (includes soil depletion, pesticides, reduction of native plants and animals) (4)
  • Economic based (currently tied to tourism and construction) (4)
We are trying to show those relationships visually. Here is a DRAFT. Note how the Community Systems themselves impact one another.


These community systems and impacts have reinforcing loops which can set up 'death spirals.' So our next step is to identify how these impacts (which have momentum; they will continue for some time) will come back to affect our community systems. This systems analysis will help us identify the highest leverage actions we can take in concert to move toward a sustainable community.