By: Asmalina Saleh, Peer Educator Intern
How can we best define learning? At its core, learning can be thought of as a change in one’s behavior over time as a result of one’s experiences. From a sociocultural perspective, learning is a two-way interaction between the person and the environment, be it material or the social environment. Most of all, the sociocultural perspective assumes that we learn through our experiences as a social creature. While cognitive structures and development impact how an individual perceives the world, this perception is very much influenced by the people around us and the culture within which we are a part of. How does learning relate to sustainable issues? Everything.
The sustainability movement first of all requires that everyone is aware of what the term sustainable means. This in itself is tricky – what does it mean? Talking to different individuals will provide very different interpretations although most will agree that it does entail making sure that the future remains a possibility for everyone. Education is thus key for those of us in the field of sustainability – not only to provide a broad understanding of the term but to provide ways to encourage alternative ways of living. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes education is associated with testing and a host of words associated with anything not fun (as our bunny friend suggests). Having peers offer these sustainable workshops is one way to get students to engage in these workshops and to view them as an informal discussion rather than a lecture. Most of the workshops conducted will be in informal environments, which have a host of affordances and barriers which are different than what educators face in schools. As noted the Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) strategies suggest, there are a variety of things that need to be attended to. Regardless, with the use of activity theory and CBSM, our main goal this year is to identify what students’ own goals are and to work with them to achieve an outcome that makes sense from their own world view. Rather than approaching education from a top-down approach, this program focuses on how to leverage students as partners who will co-evolve with us at the Office of Sustainability. After all, if we are to transform the world, it’s best to do it together.