Instructor Develops Economics of Sustainability Course with Library of Congress Grant

Economics Instructor Jill Beccaris-Pescatore. Photo by Nick Kelsh

The Library of Congress has awarded Montgomery County Community College and Economics Instructor Jill Beccaris-Pescatore a Teaching with Primary Sources grant in the amount of $7,500 to support the development and implementation of an Introduction to Environmental Economics course.

Students enrolled in the course will connect primary sources, available through the Library of Congress, to issues of scarcity and choice in the area of environmental and natural resource economics.  The analysis of primary source materials will enable students to navigate a world steeped in technology.  Students will sharpen their information literacy skills, which are increasingly necessary in an economy where decisions must be made with an abundance of information.

The new environmental economics course, which will be integrated into the existing Environmental Science program at the College, will be tailored specifically to the growing area of green jobs.  The syllabus includes natural resource economics, climate change and sustainable development.

“This course will be like no other course at the College and will serve as a critical aid in teaching and retraining our labor force to be competitive in a dynamic and global marketplace,” said Beccaris-Pescatore.

The course includes a service learning component involving a partnership with Green Woods Charter School in Philadelphia, an elementary school that educates students using a curriculum focused on environmental issues.  The College’s students will partner with Green Woods students for community service, video conferences, and environmentally sustainable activities.

Beccaris-Pescatore has prior involvement in the design and implementation of an award-winning middle school program at the charter school.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with Montgomery County Community College again,” said Jean Wallace, CEO, Green Woods Charter School.   “Ms. Beccaris-Pescatore is passionately committed to teaching environmental concepts through the lens of economics.”

On the heels of the grant announcement and development of the pilot environmental economics course, the Center for Sustainable Education at Dickinson College has accepted Beccaris-Pescatore to its NASA workshop, ‘Changing Planet Study Group,’ which took place at its Carlisle, Pa., campus June 28-July 1, 2011.

The invitation-only conference featured subject matter experts who will lead sessions on the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies.  The workshop taught educators how to effectively communicate with students about the cultural perspectives and ethical dimensions of climate change.

Participants will continue to collaborate through distance media and a follow-up workshop scheduled for the spring of 2012.  Elements of the workshop curriculum will be added to geology and science courses at the College in the fall.

“Ultimately, both students and teachers will use what they learned in these courses to become and remain stewards of the environment,” said Beccaris-Pescatore.

~ by Jacqueline A. Paquet

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