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edu180atl: joanne chu 9.28.12

“I wonder. . . How might we. . . “

Five simple words, but they contained power. Today was a special day. I had taught undergraduates for decades, but never high school students. These students at Woodward Academy were about to embark on a year-long process to discover, design and implement solutions to on-campus sustainability challenges. My challenge in the next 40 minutes? To introduce the environmentally sustainable world-view to them and then inspire them towards action. But first I had to present a working (and useful!) definition for sustainability. Anyone who has ever Googled “sustainability” knows that there are a myriad of definitions for it. I realized, at its essence, there are three principles to understanding sustainability: 

1. The intersection of the three E’s – environment, equity and economics

2. An intergenerational timeframe

3. The interconnectedness of a personal, regional, and global points-of-view

After working through this definition with the students, I sent them outside to begin applying this worldview onto what they observed and complete sentences beginning with “I wonder. . .” When they returned, we generated an entire board filled with “I wonder” statements. Next, we channeled this curiosity about their world into statements that could begin framing these issues into problem statements students might be able to solve, beginning with “How might we. . .“.  The board quickly filled with “How might we” statements. The students’ positive energy in the room felt incredible. Five small words, with power to change the world?  I hope so.

 About the author:  Dr. Joanne Chu, sustainability champion, currently supports and guides sustainability initiatives at several Georgia K-16 educational institutions.

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