Summer 2018: Sustainability Leadership

Course Description

Creating a more sustainable society presents a serious challenge and at the same time an enormous opportunity. In this class, students will discover what makes a leader for sustainability. They will consider a range of global and local crises from a leadership point of view in the context of sustainability science, which addresses the development of communities in a rapidly changing social, economic, and environmental system-of-systems environment. The course will be based on taking a problem-motivated and solution-focused approach to the challenges considered.

This Service Learning Class is a mandatory course for the Minor in Conservation Leadership ODU offers in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Learning Goals

Students will acquire the skills and styles that we consider most relevant for sustainability leaders:

  • The ability to apply system thinking in a trans-disciplinary environment to the analysis and solution of problems;
  • The ability to collaborate with a transdisciplinary team and stakeholders and a caring, inclusive attitude and emotional intelligence in the interaction with stakeholders;
  • An understanding of the ethical and moral components of the challenges and a value-orientation that contributes to facing the challenges sustainably;
  • Appreciation of human cognitive biases and cultural differences and their impacts on the social construct of reality and decision making;
  • A deep understanding of the long-term impacts of current trends and interventions;
  • The foresight to develop a strong vision for a better world and sustainable future;
  • The ability to identify underlying and often unrealized paradigms and the willingness to innovate and make radical changes, including the transition to new paradigms, if needed.

Course Contents

Humanity's struggle for sustainability in the face of rapid social, economic, and environmental changes points to a failure of individual and collective leadership. There is a lack in quality and quantity in governments, businesses, and society in general of leadership with the vision, insight, and strength required to make progress towards sustainability. Without this leadership, the most serious and urgent social and environmental crises cannot be resolved. The sustainability challenges include population growth, food and resource security, land use and its impact on the earth's life-support system, climate change, social stability and equality, and achieving an economic system that facilitates and rewards sustainability.

Creating a more sustainable society presents a serious challenge and at the same time an enormous opportunity for advancement. While we do have the understanding to create the required system knowledge and to develop the goal knowledge for desirable futures, there is a lack in terms of the transformation knowledge that forms the basis of system interventions to get closer to desirable futures.

In this class, students will discover what makes a leader for sustainability. They will consider a range of these crises from a leadership point of view in the context of sustainability science, which is a science field that addresses the development of communities in a rapidly changing social, economic, and environmental system-of-systems environment. Creating transformation knowledge that can help to make the transition from the current state to a desirable future and implementing the interventions that can change the system trajectory in the desired way requires leadership skills that are different from those required to keep a system on a predictable and well defined trajectory.

Sustainability leaders can craft a vision for a better world and inspire individuals and communities to act collectively to enable progress and make transformation towards the vision of such desirable future. Institutions and their leaders working in isolation cannot solve the wicked problems that societies face. Sustainability leaders must have the skills to bring diverse groups together across institutions, disciplines and societal sectors and across different levels to overcome the disciplinary and sectoral segmentation. Addressing the grant challenges at all levels from local to global requires a deep understanding and appreciation of the interconnected nature of the coupled social, economic and environmental systems. Such “systems thinking” is fundamental for sustainability. For this kind of thinking the promotion and sharing of knowledge across traditional disciplinary boundaries is imperative. The course will account for this by taking a problem-motivated and solution-focused approach to the challenges considered.

Financial Support

Financial support is available for the service learning week, including travel costs, lodging, and per diem for food. The availability of funding is depending on economic needs and academic standing. A GPA of 2.5 is required to be eligible for funding.

Announcements

Service Learning and Sustainability Leadership 2018: As part of the Sustainability Leadership class taught in Summer 2018, the students carried out three service learning projects for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Everglades National Park in the area of the Florida Bay near Key Largo. The students researched the impact of human pressure, sea level rise, and climate change on the American crocodile with main focus on Joe Bay and developed adaptation strategies to ensure a future of the American crocidile in a rapidly changing coastal environment. This Service Learning Class is a mandatory course for the Minor in Conservation Leadership ODU offers in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


[2018/02/06] The course is a service learning course and includes research projects serving the needs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. The students will carry out fieldwork related to the Everglades National Park in Florida in the week of June 11, 2018. Participation in the fieldwork is mandatory.


Requirements

Prerequistes are successful completion of the BIOL/OEAS/IDS 466W class or, for participation in the 567 course, completion of BIOL/OEAS 566. Students are expected to have reached the Commonwealth of Virginia standards-of-learning in high school math, science, and writing. Regular class attendance is required as some of the information will only be provided during class.

Most necessary information for the course, including the reading list and homework are posted here: http://www.mari-odu.org/academics/2018su_Leadership.

You are responsible for reading and complying with all information posted.

Work Skills and Collaboration

You must be able to access Blackboard and the class web page at http://www.mari-odu.org/academics/2018su_Internship on a daily basis. Assignment details including deadlines, course materials, schedule changes, and other important information will be posted at the class web page regularly. Please visit the course website for detailed weekly course information.

Grades will be available on the class page on Blackboard.

Collaboration is expressly permitted, encouraged, and may even be required for team projects, but must follow these guidelines:

  • You must actively participate in the collaborative project;
  • You must write your own individual report on any team project work;
  • All team members’ names must be included in any written project work;
  • You must understand the material and be able to answer questions on it.

Grading

The course combines lectures with exercises and project work. Assignments include weekly readings and a brief case study paper. The project work includes a service learning activity, which results in a joint report with clearly identified individual contributions. The report has to be presented to a group of stakeholders during the service learning week, which results in presentations of each student. Personal reflections on the service-learning experience and a brief video reflecting on the fieldwork are to be prepared by each student.

You will be graded on a standard scale:
100.0-93.0% = A; 92.9-90.0% = A-
89.9-87.0% = B+; 86.9-83.0% = B; 82.9-80.0% = B-
79.9-77.0% = C+; 76.9-73.0% = C; 72.9-70.0% = C-
69.9-67.0% = D+; 66.9-63.0% = D; 62.9-60.0% = D-
0-59.9% = F.

The course requires deliverables to be upload to Blackboard in a timely manner respecting all deadlines.

The overall grade for the class will be composed of individual grades using:
Participation in class (documented through 2+2 Form-submissions): 5%
Weekly questions: 20%
Preparation of field work: 20%
Final Report: 25%
Presentation: 20%
Video and reflections: 10%

University regulations prohibit communicating test results via email or by phone. If you wish to talk about your grade, please make an appointment. All scores will be placed on BlackBoard as soon as possible after the works are graded.

Grade forgiveness policy:

Missed deadlines are only acceptable for valid reasons such as: participation in ODU sports team events (a coach's note is needed), evidence of illness (doctor's or Student Health Services' note needed), bereavement of an immediate family member (death notice needed), or documented court appearance (copy of notice to appear needed). Advance notice in writing must be given whenever possible.

Late submissions will be graded on a reduced point scale as follows:
up to 24 hrs late = 90%
up to 48 hrs late = 80%

A further 10% per day reduction in possible points earned will be applied, up to a maximum total of 5 days late, after which the assignment will not be accepted without evidence that the student was sick or there was a family emergency.