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Wholly Frijoles! Teaching Sustainability thru Interactive Systems Thinking Education Jill Ramirez, M.A., Coordinator of Sustainability Education, Residence.

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Presentation on theme: "Wholly Frijoles! Teaching Sustainability thru Interactive Systems Thinking Education Jill Ramirez, M.A., Coordinator of Sustainability Education, Residence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wholly Frijoles! Teaching Sustainability thru Interactive Systems Thinking Education Jill Ramirez, M.A., Coordinator of Sustainability Education, Residence Life Russell Martin, M.A., Asst. Director, Office of Academic Success and Achievement The University of Arizona Advocates Coming Together

2 Goals Understand the systems thinking framework Experience an innovative, educational program that could be adapted for use on your campus Understand intersections between sustainability and social justice Understand how effectively systems thinking concepts can enhance sustainability and social justice education

3 Sustainability Defined Perpetual and cooperative environmental, social, and economic systems

4 Systems Thinking Making Sense of the Triple Bottom Line

5 What is a System? Any group of related, interdependent parts

6 What is Systems Thinking? A way of thinking about the world and relationships An approach to problem solving Encourages an appreciation of dynamic relationships

7 Habits of a Systems Thinker

8 Understanding the Big Picture Remember to see the forest Maintain balance between the big picture and the details Think holistically

9 Changing Perspectives Use new perspectives to increase understanding Are you willing to be a little bit right and a little bit wrong?

10 Considering Cause-and-Effect Identify the circular nature of complex cause-and-effect relationships What are the causal connections? Interdependencies?

11 Consequences Consider both short AND long-term consequences Can you accept “short-term pain for long-term gain”?

12 Leverage Actions Understand the system’s structure to identify possible leverage actions Where can even small changes make an impact?

13 Wholly Frijoles! Just how did we teach these?

14 Rules Assign generations Each generational representative brings their utensil to the beans All families have 10 seconds to simultaneously collect Utensils only! – No cups in the cooler Return with your beans and keep in your family’s clear bin Process repeats with each generation

15 Let’s Play!

16 Caveats Shortened time frame – Need more time for debrief Missing graph component – Visually see disparities

17 History Fortuitous beginnings Partnership with the School of Engineering and the Waters Foundation Green Fund grant Experiment

18 Experiment Design Strategically paired 22 undergraduate halls – Based on size and culture Worked with students – 1 student coordinator and 4 student facilitators Hosted Wholly Frijoles! in the 11 treatment halls

19 Battle of the Utilities Water and energy reduction competition Goal based—reduce by 15% to win Incentives – Money for hall programs or amenities – Two students win $25 gift cards to UA Bookstore Monitor usage – September: Baseline – October: Competition – November: Long-Term Impact

20 Assumptions Understanding impact motivates behavior change – Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen) Similarly sized and cultured halls exhibit similar sustainability behaviors – UA Residence Life: 80% first year students – Potential for culture shifts Consistent experiences – Different facilitators – Different insights

21 Results

22 Lessons Learned Systems thinking enhances sustainability education Promotion is critical Short-term effectiveness

23 Questions? For facilitation instructions, contact Jill Ramirez at


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