Curriculum for the Bioregion Initiative

An Inquiry into Teaching and Learning
about Environment, Community and Sustainability

Student Inquiry

Introduction

"Home is the only ground for hope. Humans once understood and are now remembering that security is found in acting responsibly at home in our neighborhoods, watersheds, and bioregions. Bioregions are complex systems where every being is connected to and interdependent with every other; bioregions are not defined by property lines, state or national boundaries, but by soil, climate, water, terrain, plants, animals, and human cultures and settlements." 1

So, what is a bioregion? Some think of this bioregion as Cascadia, which includes all the watersheds that drain from the Rocky Mountains into the Pacific Ocean from Northern California to Southeast Alaska. It spans two countries and includes British Columbia, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and adjoining parts of Alaska, Montana, and California. Other think of our bioregion more locally, as the coastal forest region west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains, or the Puget Sound basin. What is important here is learning about these places where we live.

Working with a steering committee drawn from campuses and community-based projects throughout the Puget Sound region, the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education is engaged in planning an initiative called "Curriculum for the Bioregion." We aim to better prepare college students, as well as ourselves, to live and be engaged in a world where the complex issues of environmental quality, healthy communities, and long-term sustainability are paramount.

Purpose of this inquiry

As we plan this multi-year initiative, we are listening to students, faculty, and staff on campuses throughout the Puget Sound region. We want to learn what students are thinking about now with respect to environmental quality, healthy communities, and long-term sustainability. Your perspectives are crucial to our planning. We hope this short survey will stimulate your thinking, foster discussion, and provide us with advice and ideas about developing this initiative. You can take this survey anonymously, but if you would like to receive an announcement of the final report on the project, please be sure to give us your name and e-mail address where prompted in the survey. If you have any questions about the “Curriculum for the Bioregion” Initiative, you can contact Jean MacGregor (tel. 360-867-6608 or macgjean@evergreen.edu). If you experience problems as a result of your participation in this project, you should contact Eddy Brown, Academic Dean, at The Evergreen State College, L-2211, Olympia, WA 98505; (360) 867-6972.

____________________________

1. These paragraphs were adapted from the introduction to the brochure announcing the "9th Continental Bioregional Congress" to be held July 9-17, 2005 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. For future information, contact biocongress2005@earthaven.org


1. College or University where you are enrolled:
 

 

2. Name (optional) Please provide if you would like to be sent a link when we complete the report on this inquiry next year.
 

 

3. E-mail address: (optional)
 

 

4. Your standing in college :
  1st Year Student
  Sophomore
  Junior
  Senior
  Graduate student

 

5. Your major or focus of study:
  Haven't decided yet
  My major/focus is:

 

6. How long have you lived here (in western Washington)
  I am attending college here but my home is elsewhere
  I have lived here all my life
  I have lived here 3 years or less
  I have lived here 4-10 years
  I have lived here more than 10 years

 

7. How did you find out about this survey? (choose one)
  In a class on campus
  From a faculty or staff member on campus
  From a student organization on campus
  From another student
  From the Internet (listserv, website, etc.)
  Other

 

8. As you read the introductory paragraphs to the survey, what comes to mind as your bioregion? Choose one of these:
  All of Cascadia: the watersheds that drain into the Northern Pacific from northern California to Southeast Alaska
  The coastal forest region west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains
  The Puget Sound Basin: all the watersheds draining into Puget Sound
  My local community and its surroundings
  Other(please specify)

 

9.. What did this question bring up for you about identifying what you think is "your" bioregion? Feel free to comment if you like.
 

 

10. Keeping in mind the frame you checked in question #8, how concerned are you about environmental quality in "your" bioregion?
1 = Not too concerned ______________________________________7 = Extremely concerned
1   2   3   4   5   6   7  


11. How much of a sense of stewardship or responsibility do you feel now for "your" bioregion?
1 = Minimal sense of stewardship _____________________7 = Deep sense of stewardship
1   2   3   4   5   6   7  

 

12. In what ways do you practice environmental stewardship. Choose any that apply:
  in my household and garden
  in my commuting and transportation practice
  at my workplace
  on campus
  through membership or donations to organizations
  through volunteering/involvement in organizations
  through civic activity (voting, contacting elected officials, engagement in political campaigns, testimony at hearings or meetings, writing letters to the editor)
  other (please specify)


13. What strikes you as important to learn about living in this place? Keep in mind your frame of reference for your bioregion.

As you read through the following list of areas of focus for learning about this bioregion , please rate (on the left side) your current level of knowledge about the topic, and also rate your level of interest in learning about topic (on the right side).

Please rate your current knowledge related to the following topics   Please rate your level of interest in learning more about any of the following topics
No knowledge Modest knowledge Extensive knowledge   No interest Some interest Strong interest
geology and climate
mapping, spatial analysis and regional geography
plants, animals, and biodiversity
hydrology, watershed analysis, water resource protection
history, languages, and cultures
regional literature
visual and performing arts
environmental education and communications
natural resource planning and management (forests, fish)
protection of natural areas, public recreation, and tourism
agriculture and food systems
No knowledge Modest knowledge Extensive knowledge   No interest Some interest Strong interest
social issues (literacy, poverty, crime, homelessness)
energy use and conservation
pollution and solid waste
environmental health
land use, planning and transportation
civic institutions, local and regional governance
ethics and civic responsibility
conflict resolution and participatory problem-solving
industry, production, industrial ecology
climate change effects in the region
eco-design and the built environment
No knowledge Modest knowledge Extensive knowledge   No interest Some interest Strong interest
justice issues (social, economic, environmental)
sustainability concepts and practices in general
the university campus as a bioregional resource for its surrounding communities
sustainable practices in businesses and other organizations
organizational management and leadership in both the public and private sector with a sustainability focus
future studies

Other (please describe):

 




14. Now we want to ask you about these topics in a different way. For the knowledge that you have already acquired, where did you acquire it?
 
K-12 education   College level classes   Camps, youth groups, community organizations   Informal learning with friends and family   Service projects connected to school, community org, or religious organization   The workplace  
geology and climate
mapping, spatial analysis and regional geography
plants, animals, and biodiversity
hydrology, watershed analysis, water resource protection
history, languages, and cultures
regional literature
visual and performing arts
environmental education and communications
natural resource planning and management (forests, fish)
protection of natural areas, public recreation, and tourism
agriculture and food systems
social issues (literacy, poverty, crime, homelessness)
energy use and conservation
  K-12 education   College level classes   Camps, youth groups, community organizations   Informal learning with friends and family   Service projects connected to school, community org, or religious organization   The workplace  
pollution and solid waste
environmental health
land use, planning and transportation
civic institutions, local and regional governance
ethics and civic responsibility
conflict resolution and participatory problem-solving
industry, production, industrial ecology
climate change effects in the region
eco-design and the built environment
justice issues (social, economic, environmental)
sustainability concepts and practices in general
the university campus as a bioregional resource for its surrounding communities
sustainable practices in businesses and other organizations
organizational management and leadership in both the public and private sector with a sustainability focus
future studies
Other: please describe:


15. Add any further comments about what has stood out for you about the bioregional learning you have already gained. What was especially significant and meaningful?
 


16. Add any additional comments you have on what new understandings you would like to gain about your bioregion.
 


17. Along this continuum, how would you rate the number of students who are concerned about environmental quality and sustainability issues in this bioregion?

1 = It does not seem like many of the students I know are concerned about these issues.
7 = Most of the students I know are deeply concerned about these issues.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7  


18. How hopeful are you about the capacity of people in this region to create a sustainable future?
1 = Not hopeful at all. ________________________________________ 7 = Very hopeful.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7  


19. What organizations are important to you for learning about or being active in the bioregion? Please check as to whether the organization you name is on campus or off- campus.

On-campus
organization

check button
Off-campus
organization

check button
Name of organization

 

20. Is there anything that you would like to see more of that would contribute to sustained environmental stewardship in your region? (on campus, in the surrounding community)
 

21. As you consider career directions after graduation, how important is it to you to work in an organization committed to sustainable practices?
  1. Not important
  2.
  3.
  4.
  5.
  6.
  7. Highly important

We are interested in getting as much input as we can about what students think about this topic, so if you know of other students (at your college or any other one within the Puget Sound region) who would be willing to respond to this survey, please encourage them to do so, and send them this link.

Thank you for completing this survey!