Neil Leary, Director, Center for Sustainability Education
Lindsey Lyons, Assistant Director, Center for Sustainability Education

After completing the workshop, students will be able to:

  • Articulate a definition of sustainability in your own words that reflects its multiple dimensions (e.g. environmental, social and economic);
  • Give an example of interdependence among people, places or systems and explain how the example can contribute to, or detract from, sustainability;
  • Explain how the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger intersects with at least two other U.N. Sustainable Development Goals; and
  • Describe an action, strategy or solution for advancing sustainability goals. 


Before the first workshop, students are asked to: 

Think about this question:  

  • How do you define sustainability?
  • How is the concept of interdependence relevant to sustainability? 

Complete these exercises:


Defining Sustainability (15 minutes) 

  • Welcome & Introductions & Goals
  • Defining Sustainability at Dickinson
  • Breakout Discussion:
      • What does sustainability mean to you? Use your images and pre-workshop thinking to share with your partner. 
      • How have you contributed to promoting sustainability at Dickinson or in community in which you have lived?
  • Report Out: Gather collective list of answers to questions from breakouts.

Explore Interdependence with a Sustainability Lens (15 minutes) 

  • Food Choice Poll
      • Answer a series of poll questions thinking about a meal that you ate today or yesterday. Challenge yourself to consider how the topics in these questions are interdependent and how they connect to sustainability.
  • Group Discussion of Food Choices:
      • Do your food choices affect other people in your community, people beyond your community, or people in other countries? How? 
      • Are your food choices contributing to making the world more sustainable? 
      • What changes might make our food systems more sustainable? 

Local to Global InterdependenceApplying the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to Food Security (25 minutes)  

  • Group Discussion:
      • Reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and food security article you read. What solutions to food insecurity during the times of COVID have you seen or heard about in your community or another community? Write down and idea and then share with the group as applicable.
  • Breakout Activity: Mapping UN Sustainable Development Goals
      • Using the resource provided, review the 17 UN SDG’s and connect as many as possible to the food security examples from the discussion.  Work with your breakout team to demonstrate the interdependent nature of the UN SDGsand sustainability in general using the COVID-19 pandemic and food security issues as the case study.
  • Group Discussion/Wrap Up
      • What SDG’s were you easily able to connect to these issues? Which were more challenging?
      • How does this demonstrate interdependence?
      • Have these issues come up or played out in the GIS course/program you are working on? Could they? 

Review post workshop assignments (5 minutes)


Before the next workshop, students are asked to: 

  1. Before the next workshop, students are asked to: 
    1. Revisit the image you selected before this workshop as you worked to define sustainability. Now, write a definition of sustainability in your own words and reflect on if and how your definition changed. Please document this reflection in writing as a post on this blog. Tag it with the category “sustainability”.
    2. Review the pre-workshop activities for the next workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity, brainstorm three ways that you expect sustainability to connect with that material and write down your expectations. 

    Don’t forget to also complete the pre-workshop assignments for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workshop.

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