Sustainability Education Through Active-Learning in Large Lecture Settings: Evaluation of Four Out-Of-Class Exercises

Large classes on sustainable development present certain challenges. Often high student-to-instructor ratios encourage passive learning pedagogies. However, because sustainability education seeks to increase awareness and help students shift to more sustainable behaviors, more active learning is often prescribed by pedagogical experts. This study provides analysis of four out-of-classroom activities undertaken by students in recent offerings of an experimental course on sustainable development taught at Sonoma State University in California, USA. Those activities, innovated specifically for this course, attempt to increase learner-centered activities in large classes that averaged 124 students. Analysis of open-ended reflections indicates that many students experienced raised awareness of sustainability issues. Beyond aspirational statements, student reflections and actual behavioral tracking indicate some shifts to lower carbon food choices in just four weeks.