9 Elements Assignment – April 3 – Aesthetics

  • On page 195, Dr. Thomashow talks about Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.  Check out one (or both) of the following links.  Analyze UNE’s spaces according to his concepts about “spaces of innovation”.  What spaces foster sustainable innovation?  What spaces/communities/times/activities should we create at UNE that would do this?
  • In pages 198-200, Mitchell Thomashow shared artists’ contributions to answer the question, “What is creative sustainability?”  Which response speaks to you and why?
  • What did you think about his perspective about graffiti art?  Do you share his perspective?  Why or why not?  Can you imagine a “legal canvas” here at UNE? 
  • The author is balanced in his explanation about aesthetics.  On page 207 he says, “it is important to recognize the extent to which our values predispose aesthetics.”  What kinds of creative sustainability do you think people with different values would also find aesthetically appealing on campus?

9 Elements Assignment – March 27 – Interpretation

  • Knowing that the final project in this class deals specifically with “interpretation” as Dr. Thomashow describes it in this chapter, what ideas come to mind for creative narratives that we might develop in this class?
  • His first guideline for creating “evocative interpretation” is to “ask relevant questions”.  Imagine yourself as a visitor to UNE and develop some questions that you think would evoke an interest in you to learn more about the sustainability at UNE.
  • Dr. Thomashow’s fifth guideline is to “balance the visceral and the virtual”.  What does he mean by this?  Give some examples of how we might do that with the creative project in this class?
  • The last paragraph of the chapter provides a list of criteria by which to judge the efficacy of a sustainability tour.  What other criteria would you use to judge the efficacy of our final creative project? 

9 Elements Assignment – March 13 – Curriculum

  • In thinking about the co-curricular sustainability opportunities that the author describes as they are here at UNE, in what opportunities have you participated and how have they compared to the sustainability concepts integrated into the curriculum?
  • On page 160, that author identifies a concern among sustainability teams at colleges he’s visited.  He says that they may be proud of their efforts, but feel that they are “preaching to the choir”.  Do you feel that’s true at UNE?  How might we bridge the gap in sustainability experiences to reach those people in our community that do not share the sustainability ethos?
  • What resonated with you about learning in the “learning by doing” and “the campus as a sustainability design studio” sections?
  • Mitchell Thomashow identifies four categories of curricular foundation in the sustainability field: biosphere studies, social networking and organizational change, creative imagination and sustainability life skills.  Think about the courses you have taken and plan to take to finish your degree and identify into which category they fit.  What co-curricular experiences round out your environmental science/studies education?
  • What questions arose for you when reading the text?

9 Elements Assignment – March 6 – Wellness

  • What is the main idea of the text?
  • Throughout the chapter, Dr. Thomashow identifies ways in which sustainability and wellness are inextricably linked.  In what ways is that true at UNE, and what other opportunities exist to make this more so at UNE?
  • On page 142, the author discusses benefits and detriments of technological social networks.  What networks do you participate in that benefit your sustainability ethos?
  • Respond to the idea of “simplicity”.  What does the author mean by this?  Do you feel this is a necessary component of both sustainability and wellness?  Why or why not?
  • Do you accept his charge that “you are a role model” as a sustainability practitioner?  On pages 144-145, the author talks about practicing in life what you espouse.  In what ways do you think hypocrisy of environmentalists in general and you in particular could be pointed out?  Considering this, do you feel compelled to change your habits?

9 Elements Assignment – February 28 – Investment

On page 104, the author describes many types of capital: financial, human, natural, social and intellectual.  When thinking about these different categories and the specific capital that UNE has in each category (some of which are described in the chapter), and applying what you know about the university through and investigation of the sustainability website and your own experience, compile lists of the following questions:

  • What INTERNAL STRENGTHS does the university possess in each form of capital to assist with its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals?
  • What INTERNAL WEAKNESSES must the university overcome in each form of capital to achieve its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals?
  • What EXTERNAL OPPORTUNITIES exist that the university can take advantage of to help reach its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals?
  • What EXTERNAL THREATS exist that could derail the university from meeting its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals?

9 Elements Assignment – February 21 – Governance

Socratic Seminar & ePortfolio Reflection Questions:

  • On page 76, of all the qualities listed there, which do you most value in your university president and why?
  • Dr. Thomashow uses the word Anthropocene.  What is your understanding/interpretation of the word and what implications do you think it represents?
  • What leadership qualities can you exhibit to spark transformational change?
  • What dichotomies do you most relate to on pages 95-99 and why?
  • What questions remain for you about university governance specifically, or leadership in general, after reading this chapter?  How might you find the answers to your questions?

9 Elements Assignment – February 14 – Materials Chapter

Socratic Seminar & ePortfolio Reflection Questions:

  • Watch The Story of Stuff (21 minutes): http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/ and provide your reaction.
  • Evaluate your feelings about the conflict between the consumer economy and environmental sustainability.  How do you feel about the idea that to be a good environmental steward means going “without”?
  • How might UNE’s maker space be a place of “ethically sustainable innovation”?
  • What materials do you interact with on a daily basis that you would want to be “green” here at UNE?
  • What happens to your “stuff” that gets thrown away here on campus?
  • What “uh-oh” moments did you encounter when reading this chapter?

9 Elements Assignment – February 7 – Food Chapter

Socratic Seminar & ePortfolio Reflection Questions:

  • What “bioregional assets” does UNE have?
  • Reflect on your meals for the past 24 hours and evaluate how many “whole” foods you have consumed?  Share your reflection.
  • What UNE initiatives are you aware of that pertain to food?  Ask your peers and professors.  How could these initiatives be expanded?
  • Consider the questions at the bottom of page 56 and try to answer these for yourself.
  • What has this chapter left you wondering?

9 Elements Assignment – January 31 – Energy Chapter

Socratic Seminar and ePortfolio Reflection Questions:

  • What is the main idea of the text?
  • The author begins the chapter by “calling attention” to things in the natural world and in the man-made world that we routinely take for granted.  What have you become aware of, when attention was called to it?
  • Why is it important to find common ground with people who don’t share your perspective on the environment?  How might you do that?
  • On page 31 he suggests that every campus should have an “energy map”.  UNE does not.  How might we do that?
  • What do you believe a large-scale renewable energy project would say about the university?  Do you agree with what he says about it?  Why or why not? (pp. 34-35)
  • Share an “ah-ha” moment from the chapter and explain why it was a new revelation for you.


Assigned Chapters:

You were all asked to sign up for three Socratic seminars and three portfolio reflections in class. Please take note your chapters and the due dates.


We will be exploring the text The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus, by Mitchell Thomashow, through the use of guided questions with Socratic Seminars and e-portfolio reflections.  Mitchell Thomashow, former president of Unity College, provides his insight and reflections about sustainability on college campuses and the importance of developing a “sustainability ethos”.  He organizes the text into three sections: Infrastructure, Community and Learning.  There are three chapters within each section.  In our first class on January 17, 2020, you must sign up to participate in one Socratic Seminar and one e-portfolio reflection for EACH of the three sections.  The text is available for free electronically through the UNE Library at: http://lilac.une.edu/search/t?SEARCH=The+Nine+Elements+of+a+Sustainable+Campus