Educating about Sustainability

Hey everyone, Courtney McQueen here! My stretch experience is about sustainability. I am working with a group based at the University of Calgary, called the Students on Sustainability (SOS). Our objective is to teach students about sustainability. I got to create a module about environmental policy, and then teach it to some high school students. In May, I worked on my module, which had topics such as “Does increasing development and sustainable communities create more environmental degradation?” In other words, the more we develop our communities and countries, do we also create more harm to the environment? Another focus to the lecture was: to what extent should the government make citizens responsible for environmental issues? Environmental policy is a contemporary issue today in our daily lives. Everywhere we go we are affected by policy, and it then affects sustainability in our communities, oceans, parks, forests, economy, etc. I believe it is important to teach our youth the basics of environmental policy so they can form their own opinions and be responsible citizens.

During my presentation I included Sustainability BINGO! It kept the students engaged, but I might have to switch to a different game since all of them started to yell out bingo during the presentation… I guess we learn as we go along! An example of environmental policy I included and went over was the federal carbon tax (aka the backstop). I included both pros and cons to each side, and what the policy entails and how it will affect Albertans once the carbon tax policy is gone here. I would like to think I created an unbiased approach to learning about sustainability, environmental policy, and the carbon tax; this is to ensure that students form their own opinions about these important issues.

So far, I taught a grade 9 and 12 class. A key issue I got my students to focus on was environmental policy and plastic straws. It is a major issue today, and we can recently see Prime Minister Trudeau heading towards banning one use plastic. I let my students choose whatever position (for or against) and wanted to see what they came up with, they also had to make key point to their policy, come up with a party name, and talk about who/what the policy effects. My favourite one of course was a policy to replace all plastic straws with oreo and fruitloop straws! YUM!

I plan to teach more classes in the new school year, and get them to make a policy for their school to follow, and hopefully the class or school will implement this new policy!

Hope everyone is having a great summer, can’t wait to see you in the fall!

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