Education for Sustainability

Eric Hemphill

Written by Eric Hemphill, M.Ed. –

“Climate change is real. It’s out there. It’s our fault. It will be difficult to mitigate the effects, and even more difficult to reverse them. CO2 levels have reaching blah blah blah parts per million blah blah blah since blah blah blah year…”

This is how I started my first time teaching the Introduction to Sustainability Studies course at UCO. It was not well received. . . .  read more

Focus and Verbs: Attending the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference

TL Conference Attendees

Written by Beth Allan, PhD, Coordinator of Secondary Science Education, Biology Department –

Learning. Student. Transformative. Teachers. Discussion.  

These are the most common words from the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference Program. That student, learning, and transformative are the most common words is both encouraging and accurate for what it was like being at the conference. There were presentations and plenaries and workshops across the disciplines and about any subject. Conference attendees were from Oklahoma, Texas, California, and beyond. It was a well-attended and well-organized conference. So what sets the Transformative Learning Conference (TLC) apart from other conferences?  For me, it was the focus on action. . .  read more

Transforming Digital Forensic Science Education with Service Learning

Picture of students in the Dorensic Science Institute department

Photo of Dr. Mark McCoyWritten by Mark R. McCoy, Ed.D., Professor, Forensic Science Institute –

The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (2011) defines service learning as a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Service learning represents a potentially powerful form of pedagogy because it provides a means of linking the academic with the practical. There is growing evidence that having students apply theoretical material learned in the traditional classroom in a “real world” setting has a positive effect on student learning and interest in the subject matter (Astin et. al., 2000). Service learning projects also benefit the community by providing new perspectives into the work of universities and strengthening community relationships with faculty and students. . . .  read more

“See the World, Serve the World” – Transformative Learning and Short-Term Study Abroad

Written by Jarrett Jobe, PhD, Executive Director, Leadership Central — 

One of the positive impacts of globalization over the past 25 years has been the tremendous growth of international study abroad programs and experiences in higher education. During this time, colleges and universities have expanded their international study opportunities to students, which include multi-disciplinary academic programs at new global destinations not previously offered to students.  These programs have also expanded their learning outcomes from focusing solely on global/cultural competencies to service learning, leadership, and business/entrepreneurship. Students return from these experiences with new perspectives and an understanding of a diverse world, a deeper appreciation of varied cultural practices and beliefs, and expanded knowledge of their place in their own communities. NAFSA finds that study abroad and its impacts on students are significant in the following learning outcomes: improved grades, retention, graduation rates, language learning, intercultural understanding, enlightened nationalism, and employability.[1] NAFSA recommends more research on the topic, but emerging evidence is clear on the benefits of these experiences for students’ growth and development. Yet these results have focused primarily on long term (6 months or more) international experiences and there is a growing number of higher education experiences that fit into the short-term (less than a month) description. The small amount of research that has been conducted has been positive, reporting results consistent with longer programs, but also continues to call for additional research.[2] . . .  read more

Providing Transformative Experiences through Student Engagement

Students in UCO chapter of Wildlife Society

Written by Vicki Jackson, PhD, Associate Professor, Biology — 

One of my favorite things about being a professor is working with students to find opportunities for them to gain not only content knowledge and skills but also “soft skills”.  Soft skills are those like communication skills, work ethic, and positive attitudes that will allow them to be successful no matter what career they pursue upon graduation.  Scientists tend to focus on hard skill and knowledge acquisition in class and research; it is within our student organizations that we can provide opportunities to go beyond class room and laboratory experiences. . . .  read more

The UCO Labyrinth: A Site for Inner Reflection, Social Change, and Transformative Learning

Faculty walking the UCO labyrinth

Written by Kato Buss, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Theatre Arts –

On Monday, November 13th at 4:00pm, the UCO Department of Theatre Arts senior capstone students presented a performance of The Blue Puzzle by Clare Duffy, in conjunction with the Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA). CCTA is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented to coincide with the United Nations COP23 meeting. CCTA collaborators were encouraged to design their event to reflect their own aesthetic and community. Considering this, The Blue Puzzle was performed on the UCO Labyrinth as a form of site-specific, environmental theatre. “Within contemplative pedagogy, labyrinths are one form of active meditative practice,” explains Kato Buss, Ph.D., “We believe the UCO labyrinth serves as a site of Transformative Learning and an ideal location to present a CCTA project, which asks us to deeply consider climate change; to imagine loss, survival, and resilience; and to expand our methods of telling stories and making work.” (Rudebock 2016) . . .  read more

Engagement & Transformative Learning: Equity where it Matters

picture of colorful raised hands

Written by Sunshine Cowan, Ph.D., MPH, MCHES®, Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies –

I had the good fortune this past summer to join a team from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) attending the Institute of High Impact Practices and Student Success, sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The Institute focused on equity in higher education, and our team concentrated on ways that UCO could develop an equity mindset on campus. In the words of Dr. Sharra Hynes, we wanted to lay the groundwork to be a “student-ready” campus. This phrase became a goal: What needed to be accomplished so that we were ready when students arrived? What could we do better to meet the needs of the students who choose UCO (rather than banking on outdated expectations of who our students “should” be)? How could we provide opportunities to engage first-generation, low income, and minority students in order to retain them and serve our state and respective fields with career-ready graduates?picture of colorful raised hands . . .  read more

Why include Health and Wellness in the Central Six tenets of Transformative Learning? (Part 2 of 2)

Written by Christy Vincent, Ph.D., Professor, Organizational Communication – 

In my last blog post, I highlighted the relationship between our students’ health status and their academic success and pointed to numerous health-related issues our students face daily. I acknowledged that many faculty members contend that addressing student health and wellness falls into the purview of Student Affairs rather than Academic Affairs.  I suggested that there are ways that faculty members, even those of us not teaching in health-related disciplines, can play a more prominent role in helping students focus on their health and recognize its importance in their ability to succeed in our courses. . . .  read more

Why include Health and Wellness in the Central Six tenets of Transformative Learning? (Part 1 of 2)

Written by Christy Vincent, Ph.D., Professor, Organizational Communication – 

Percentage of UCO student survey respondents who reported these factors affected their individual academic performance (e.g., received a lower grade on a project or in a course, dropped a course, received an incomplete).

My students are stressed out. They do not get enough sleep; they do not eat nutritional foods; they rarely exercise; they suffer from illnesses, many of which are stress-related; they worry about not having enough money; they attempt to balance full-time jobs with 15, often 18, hours per semester; they have troubling relationship issues; they care for their elderly relatives; they take care of their own or relatives’ children; they are not self-reflective; they are emotionally drained; they do not have methods for self-renewal. . . .  read more