Emerging Trends in Energy Literacy: Educating for a Shift to Sustainable Energy

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Wilson A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Debra Rowe, Oakland Community College, Bloomfield Hills, MI
There is a robust national trend to educate for sustainable development (ESD).  U.S. higher education has created over the past ten years more than 2,000 new degrees, certificates and minors related to sustainable development. Over fifty mainstream national associations for higher education presidents, business officers, faculty, facility directors and others are working on ESD. For example, over 450 presidents have signed onto the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges. SEED has hundreds of educational resources about curricula, career pathways, certifications, industry needs, and innovative education for the sectors of solar, wind, green building, energy efficiency, transportation/renewable fuels, and sustainable agriculture/land. Yet more needs to done by U.S. educators to create an energy literate and engaged population.  A Call to Action for more energy education and energy literacy was created by the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS) with support from the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium so students and the public will be able to make smarter energy choices in their roles as worker, consumer, investor, and citizen. DANS is comprised of over forty academic societies from STEM, social sciences, and business. In the United States, some vested and politically powerful energy interests are holding back the shift to a healthier and sustainable energy future. The call to action encourages educators to help students gain the knowledge and the skills to understand: what is misinformation and myth, what can create energy solutions, and how to utilize valuable energy information. Students need to understand that well designed renewable energies and energy conservation systems can now provide positive cash flows plus environmental and social benefits while meeting as much as 80% of our present energy needs according to multiple analyses. Students need exposure to the hundreds of types of clean energy jobs as possible career pathways. Within the academic literature, a key component of quality education is that students need the skills, knowledge and mindsets to help create systemic change (see Sustainability Improves Student Learning in STEM).  Systemic changes are required to create a sustainable energy future and mitigate the negative consequences of climate change. This presentation covers how and what all educators can teach so students have the knowledge, skills and mindsets to create a sustainable energy future.