University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education

4th Annual Silverwood Park Sustainability Fair

November 13, 2015Kyle SamejimaEvents0

You’re invited to the fourth annual Silverwood Park Sustainability Fair!  

Silverwood Sustainability FairSm

Silverwood Sustainability Fair 2014

We are back by popular demand to host this green event in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, Saint Anthony Village, the City of Falcon Heights, the City of Lauderdale, and the Three Rivers Park District!

This event is free and open to the public!

When: Thursday, November 19, 2015 
Where: Silverwood Nature Center 2500 County Rd E
St. Anthony, MN 55421

Come to the fair to learn more about sustainability and how you can incorporate it into your life and your community. At the University of Minnesota we have some of the brightest minds working on some of the largest challenges; this is an excellent opportunity for you to see some of the current solutions to relevant problems in your community. There will be chances to win prizes, eat free food, and expand your knowledge.

Sustainability Fair 2014SustFair2014Butterfly

In addition to the vendors from around the area, the students from the University of Minnesota’s SUST 4004 (Sustainable Communities) class have been applying our classwork to real life situations in Falcon Heights, St. Anthony Village, and Lauderdale. The fair is a chance for them to present the progress they have made as they continue towards their final reports. Other than the group of students involved with planning the fair, you can expect to see the following projects around the fair:

  • Bus Rapid Transit
  • Model Home
  • Bike Infrastructure
  • Scaling Home Energy
  • Comprehensive Plan
  • Housing Development

We realize that the fair happens right around dinner time. Don’t worry!!! Food will be provided from the following vendors:

  • Aki’s BreadHaus
  • The Wedge Co-op
  • Eastside Food Co-op
  • Common Roots Catering

This is an event for your whole family! There will be a Kids’ Corner with lots of fun activities for your kids. They will have the opportunity to go on a Silverwood Scavenger Hunt, travel through the fair with a Vendor Passport, make leaf rubbings, and build a Mr. Potato Head Planter to grow plants.

By attending the fair, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with other members of your community to create a more resilient future. Together, we can change the world by sharing our knowledge and bringing diverse skills to the table.

When: Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 5:30pm-8:00pm

Where: Silverwood Nature Center  2500 County Rd E, St. Anthony, MN 55421

If you are interested in this event and would like to learn more, please contact us as or check out our website at


Registering for Spring Semester? We’ve got you covered.

November 12, 2015Moriah MaternoskiFeatured, GeneralComments Off on Registering for Spring Semester? We’ve got you covered.

4705279733_61a1397295_bAlerting all UMN students!

I’m coming to you from the Sustainability Education office pre-spring semester registration to bring you an exclusive addition of: If I were a student studying sustainability, what should I take in spring 2016?

We’re pretty knowledgeable on this topic here in the office, so consider taking one or more of the following classes!

SUST 3003 Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet

When: Tuesday/Thursday 9:45-11:00moving toward change butterfly

If commodity crop consumption (corn, soy, grains) drives agricultural practices that strip soils of nutrients faster than they can be replaced, should we change farming practices for future generations? The word “sustainability” is most often used in reference to maintaining environmental integrity; however, social equity, environmental integrity, and economic well-being are also important and often competing goals. In this class you’ll approach sustainability from multiple viewpoints and explore various models for understanding these value judgments. You will also use real-world case studies to explore the conflicts and trade-offs that result from putting sustainability into practice.

SUST 4004 Sustainable Communities

When: Thursday 6:00- 8:40 PM  *** New time! ***

AltTransportationWhat does sustainability look like in the Twin Cities metropolitan area? In this hands on capstone course you’ll address this question and gain an understanding of the ways cities engage with community members to collect input and foster support for sustainability initiatives. In the process, you’ll present your work to the community and complete a project that tangibly contributes to sustainability work in the Twin Cities.

CEGE 5572 Acara Social Venture Launchpad

When: Jan 11-15, 2016

In this one-week intensive course, you’ll design a social business venture solution to address a challenge you’re passionate about. The goal of the class is to work on technologies or ideas that address a grand challenge in a financially self-sustaining manner.

CEGE 4011/5570 Design for Sustainable Development – Discovery India

When: May 17th-June 7th 2016

Study abroad in May 2016! Travel to Bangalore, India to explore urban and rural development challenges in India through the eyes of entrepreneurs, local leaders, and communities. Learn about entrepreneurial and engineering solutions to environmental and societal challenges.

COMM 4250/5250 Environmental Communication

When: Online courseenvComm1

Communicating environmental issues in effective ways is important. In this class, you’ll learn how to present environmental knowledge to public and policy-making audiences while studying environmental problems, such as climate chance, declining biodiversity and environmental justice. You’ll also take on a project at a public land site!

GCC 3006 Climate Change – Myths, Mysteries and Uncertainties 

When: Tuesday/Thursday 8:45-10:00

In this course, you’ll examine the theory behind the atmospheric greenhouse effect in the climate system and the consequences of climate change for present and future societies. Explore environmental signals that are used to diagnose climate variability and, after firmly establishing the scientific basis for climate change, learn about the intersections between climate change and society.

GCC 3009 Rivers and Cities: Meeting Future Demands on Urban Water Systems

riverWhen: Monday/Wednesday 2:30-3:45

Interested in learning about access to safe and sufficient water? This class will evaluate changing demands on urban rivers, challenge you to articulate your understanding of water management to local citizens and devise creative visions for better management of water.

GCC 3010 Grand Challenge: The Global Climate Challenge Creating an Empowered Movement for Change

When: Tuesday 4:00-7:00

Interested in exploring climate change through a grassroots and leadership lens? In this course you’ll look at the ecological and human health consequences of climate change and the psychology of climate interaction. Using a strategy of grassroots empowerment, this course will help you to connect to the heart of what you really value; to understand the threat of climate change; to examine how you feel in the light of that threat; and to take powerful action together. At the end of the course, you’ll work in groups to design and execute an activity where you empower a community to take action.

GCC 3011 Grand Challenge: Pathways to Renewable Energy

When: Tuesday/Thursday 9:45-11:00

In this course, you’ll examine the obstacles to energy transitions, the role of energy in society, the physics of energy and more. You’ll learn about the drivers leading global systems to change despite powerful constraints and how local and institutional action enables broader reform. Finally, you’ll put your learning into action by developing proposals for addressing: What would it take to get the University of Minnesota to invest significantly in solar energy?

GCC 5008 Policy and Science of Global Environmental Change

capitol hillWhen: Tuesday/Thursday 10:15-11:30

In this class, you’ll learn about the critical issues underpinning global change and its environmental and social implications. You’ll examine current literature citing evidence for human-induced global change and its potential effects on biological processes. Finally, you’ll study the social and economic consequences and political processes at local, national, and international scales related to global change.

GCC 3013/5013 Grand Challenge: Making Sense of Climate Change – Science, Art, and Agency


When: Tuesday 1:25-4:25

Interested in exploring the intersection between art, place and climate change? In this course you’ll engage with climate change science and ethical action in changing climates, collective agency and place, and public art as a means for transformative action. You’ll design a public art piece for the Northern Spark Art Festival with the theme of Climate Chaos and critically reflect on your place in addressing grand challenges.

Creating a sustainable society includes all sorts of Grand Challenges!  Check out the other GCC courses, too:

GCC 3007/5007 – Grand Challenge: Toward Conquest of Disease 

When: Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15 pm

Credit: flickr/NIAID

Curious about microbial bugs & what they have to do with our future?  Infectious disease has devastated human populations and even caused global population declines.  This course combines ecological thought and ecological models with historical and future perspectives to understand the fundamental dynamics of our minuscule predators, and relate this to similar minuscule predators of wild and domestic animals, to crops, and to other plants.

GCC 3012 – Grand Challenge: Structural Violence & Medication Experience 

When: Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15 pm

The course will use a social justice framework for learning and communicating about structural violence and the intersection of culture, the medication experience, and community health.  Using Critical Race Theory and Social Ecological frameworks, we will come to a more complex understanding of our own social locations and the interplay of power and privilege while exploring the root causes of health disparities and the development of solutions that address inequities in health, education, housing, employment, and access to respectful health care.

Students in the Sustainability Minor can petition to get credit for the Grand Challenge Courses.

Need more ideas?

Check out this extensive list of all sustainability related courses at the U! 


Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations) at AASHE 2015

November 4, 2015Elizabeth HokeFeatured, General, Undergraduate NewsComments Off on Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations) at AASHE 2015
UMN NA MedGardens

Native American Medicine Gardens on the UMN-TC St. Paul campus

On Sunday, October 25th, those attending AASHE at the Minneapolis Convention Center had the unique opportunity to engage with hundreds of sustainability-focused students and speakers from around the country. The University of Minnesota had diverse and engaged representation from many participants.

One of those speakers was Francis Bettelyoun, a longtime master gardener at the University of Minnesota. He oversees the Medicine Wheel Garden on the St. Paul campus and helps to educate those who help tend it. Bettelyoun brought the profound yet gentle Lakota concept of mitakuye oyasin to AASHE this year. Paraphrased from his description,  mitakuye oyasin means,

“I don’t see you, the plants, or the animals as anything but my relative. As best as I can, I will come without judgment and ego. I will come with unconditional love.” -Francis Bettelyoun describing mitakuye oyasin

He went on to describe how there needs to be a major societal reversion back to living naturally. Stating that every U.S. citizen uses approximately 48,000 lbs. of natural resources per year, Bettelyoun stressed that materialism is destroying Mother Earth and that a restored sense of place is necessary to save Her. This can be accomplished by every individual doing what they can to live off of the land and provide their own food from their own native soils. Community gardens are an excellent way to fulfill that step in returning to Mother Earth.

While community gardening still might not be plausible for everyone, Bettelyoun urges that steps can still be taken to decolonize oneself. Be intentional, he said to the rapt audience. He reiterated that every individual determines their role in the greater sustainability fabric when they choose where to shop and what to eat.

In his closing statements, Bettelyoun told all of those in attendance that accepting cultural differences is how great strides can be made in sustainability. He reminded the audience that while each of them are learners, they are teachers as well.

His perspective served as a strong moment for cultural reflection that audience members surely returned to throughout the remainder of the AASHE programming. Bettelyoun can be found educating students about food sovereignty at the Minnesota Native American Medicine Gardens between March and October. 

Sustainable Food Systems: The U’s Approach to Local & Global Food at AASHE

October 20, 2015Moriah MaternoskiFeatured, GeneralComments Off on Sustainable Food Systems: The U’s Approach to Local & Global Food at AASHE

Food_SustainabilityThe Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (aka, AASHE) conference is just around the corner! AASHE is the largest sustainability related conference of its kind, and we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have it right in our own backyards.

This year AASHE will once again feature presentation topics ranging from energy to climate change and food to water issues. Along with unique presentations, AASHE is welcoming presenters from across the United States, many of whom are experts in diverse disciplines. Minnesota is sure to be well represented at this year’s conference, as representatives from the Twin Cities campus and other campuses across the state will be in attendance! Here’s the bottom line: If you have yet to give thought to which AASHE presentations you’re interested in checking out, now is the time! Lucky for you, we’ve started to do some research.

At the University of Minnesota, professors, dining services and students alike are all doing really interesting work surrounding food at both a local and global level! AASHE-attendees will have the opportunity to connect with folks engaged in local conversations about food, i.e. through Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths and professors teaching a course about food production and agroecosystems around the world. Through these presentations, audiences will leave with concrete ideas on how they can better their college campus’ relationship with food.

Agroecosystems around the world

Educating About Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecosystems of the World (10/27 @ 11:20-12:20)

Paul Porter, Professor, and Mary Brakke, Teaching Assistant Professor, both in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics will be presenting on their course titled “Agroecosystems of the World”. Through this discussion, Paul and Mary will virtually bring together natives from southwest Minnesota, Morocco, Somalia and Nepal to demonstrate the factors shaping food production within each of these regions. Come to take a virtual trip across the montane areas of Morocco, semi-arid tropical grasslands in Somalia and tropical savannahs/forests of Nepal. Audiences will gain a deeper appreciation for the biophysical and social-economic characteristics of the four regions that influence the environment, production, consumption and social structures built around food. Come to see how Paul and Mary use distance technology and virtual learning as tools for connecting to other parts of the world to more comprehensively understand their food environments!

Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths: Interactive Session on Discovering and Sharing Campus Food Sustainability (10/27 @ 1:45-2:45)

Alyssa Lundberg, University Dining Services’ Sustainability Coordinator, and Valentine Cadieux, Resident Fellow at the Institute on the Environment, will discuss their college campus approaches to food sustainability during this interactive session. Their goal is to provide a platform for discussion between individuals engaged in food sustainability across a variety of backgrounds—from students to researchers to chefs, farmers and administrators. They will approach the discussion about food sustainability on college campuses through two practices on the University of Minnesota’s campus: Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths. Uncomfortable Dinner Parties have given those connected to the food world an opportunity to discuss how food sustainability should be explored at the University of Minnesota. Farmer Photo Booths have invited people to construct portraits illustrating how they perceive farming. Join Alyssa and Valentine at their presentation to learn about how food sustainability can be improved on college campuses and to be introduced to some of the awesome work that is currently taking place at the U!

As can be seen through these upcoming AASHE sessions, the University of Minnesota is engaged in the food sustainability discussion at both the local and global level! Consider joining these leaders at their AASHE presentations next week.

Featured image: Institute on the Environment 

Blog Images: Professor, Paul Porter, and Northrop

Music, Art, and Theater: Sustainability Through a Different Lens

October 16, 2015Moriah MaternoskiEvents, Featured, GeneralComments Off on Music, Art, and Theater: Sustainability Through a Different Lens

MCAD_ArtExhibitThe Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (aka, AASHE) conference is just around the corner! AASHE is the largest sustainability related conference of its kind, and we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have it right in our own backyards.

This year AASHE will once again feature presentation topics ranging from energy to climate change and food to water issues. Along with unique presentations, AASHE is welcoming presenters from across the United States, many of whom are experts in diverse disciplines. Minnesota is sure to be well represented at this year’s conference, as representatives from the Twin Cities campus and other campuses across the state will be in attendance! Here’s the bottom line: If you have yet to give thought to which AASHE presentations you’re interested in checking out, now is the time! Lucky for you, we’ve started to do some research.

Using art, theater and music to communicate sustainability

From an outsider’s perspective, sustainability or environmental issues might be viewed as research based, containing only graphs, numbers, and data. While these are all fundamental forms of communicating sustainability, there also happen to be other ways that sustainability issues are communicated.

This year, AASHE will feature presenters from our own state (MINNESOTA!) interested in taking a slightly different spin on sustainability. Their presentations will demonstrate how music, art and theater can provide an avenue through which we can communicate sustainability. Described below are a few AASHE presentations highlighting the importance of art/music/theater in sustainability!

Art as Vital Agent in the Spiral of Sustainable Change (10/27 @ 1:45-2:45)


Artwork to be featured at AASHE 2015

Jonee Brigham, Senior Research Fellow at IonE, and Roslye Ultan, senior lecturer of Liberal Studies and Arts and Cultural Leadership, will lead a presentation bridging the connection between sustainability and art. As they discuss the intersection between art, science and environmental sustainability, they will reveal the role that art plays in the process of sustainable transformation. Roslye describes their presentation as setting itself apart from other presentations: “the arts have the power to stimulate emotionally charged responses for engagement and action. Art adds a new dimension to the conversation and search for finding new ways to communicate complex issues in aesthetically pleasing ways”. Their presentation will encourage open-ended thinking, curiosity and creative imaginations. Come to learn how the arts have shaped our environment and see sustainability in a new way!


Sustainability, the Musical (10/26 @ 10:10-11:10)

Mark Pedelty, Resident Fellow at IonE, and co-presenters from the University of Minnesota will engage their audience in a musical adventure, prompting audience members to share their experiences relating music and the arts to campus sustainability. Mark and his co-presenters will play a series of song-and-slide combinations throughout the presentation, including a song promoting local rain gardens! Mark believes that “art and pop culture can play an important role in connecting people to place”, so during the presentation he will be integrating songs from undergraduates and community organizations over the past 15 years. Come to learn about the challenges and opportunities involved in integrating art and pop culture into campus sustainability! Music included, folks. 

Mapping Campus Connections: Using GIS Story Maps as part of Place-based, Art-led Environmental Education (10/26 @ 10:10-11:10)

GISRiver_JourneyJonee Brigham, Senior Research Fellow at IonE and Len Kne, U-Spatial Associate Director, will introduce the concept of place-based and art-led environmental education by describing their engagement with local water sustainability issues. They will base their presentation on a case study entitled River Journey, describing in depth 70 high school students’ journey to discover the value of the Mississippi River. Their presentation will explain how the case study chronicled the path of sink water traveling upstream to the water treatment plant to a water meter ending in their own sinks. They will describe how the student’s final project involved the creation of an actual map of the water’s path and the importance in using visual maps and art projects to communicate sustainability. Join Jonee and Len to learn the logistics of carrying out this case study and how it can be applied to other areas of community sustainability education!

The Hive Project: Three Short Plays with Music (10/27 @ 12:30-1:30)


The Hive Project in action

Rachel Jendrzejewski, playwright and Minnesota resident, will be exploring the relationship between humans and bees through a live performance at this year’s AASHE conference! She will presenting alongside artists and beekeepers from across the United States (from California to New York!) to demonstrate the impacts that environmental crises have on our bee population, how human labor is organized and to ask “what can we learn from bees?”.  Rachel believes that “artists have a critical role to play in igniting the public imagination, exercising the muscle of divergent thinking”, and The Hive Project provides an outlet for just that. The Hive Project will feature four acclaimed actors, live music and maybe even some bees *DISCLAIMER: no bees will be used or harmed in the performance*. Join Rachel and co-performers at AASHE to get a taste of the role that theater and music play in crafting a performance about environmental issues.

Did you know that you could find musical, art and theater related performances at AASHE?! Consider attending one of these awesome presentations during your conference excursion.

Roslye Ultan provided me with the following quote that sums up intersection of arts and sustainability pretty well:

Art works clearly are superior to all other things, since they stay longer in the world than anything else…they are deliberately removed from the process of consumption and usage and isolated against the sphere of human life necessities” ~Hannah Arendt


Feature photo-Taken by Mary Oldham at MCAD 

Ocean photo-SAMEE exhibit at the Institute on the Environment

Water Photo-River Journey blogspot by Jonee Brigham

The Hive Project photo-Rachel Jendrzejewski’s blog

The Sustainability Education website is administered by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The University of Minnesota offers sustainability courses in most of its colleges and campuses around the state. These courses encompass biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, design, engineering, business, and health. The Sustainability Studies minor is one of several interdisciplinary programs through which such diverse courses come together.