Environmental Dashboards: Fostering Pro-environmental and Pro-community Thought and Action Through Feedback
Early humans experienced intimate and continuous feedback from the natural world that informed and constrained decision-making and helped individuals see themselves as part of larger wholes. This experience and perspective has been undermined by cultural, economic and ecological transformation. Characterization of universities as “ivory towers” reflects a parallel separation and alienation—a perceived disconnect between knowledge generation and practical application to solve societal challenges. This paper reviews how “environmental dashboard” is being used as a novel form of “ecofeedback” to engage educational institutions with the ecological and social communities in which they are embedded. The dashboard technology and approach incorporate three scales of feedback: (1) “building dashboards” dynamically display water and electricity consumption in individual buildings; (2) “citywide dashboards” animate whole community resource flows; (3) “community voices” combine images and words drawn from interviews to celebrate local thought and action that advance sustainability in diverse communities. A pilot implementation in Oberlin, Ohio displays all three components on digital signs in public spaces including schools, storefronts, community organizations and the Oberlin College campus. We use this as a case study to explore how students and faculty have employed an educational model emphasizing civic engagement to develop and manage the technology and co-produce knowledge and content with the larger community. Research indicates that this technology enhances systems thinking, promotes energy and water conservation and stimulates content retention. The technology and findings are widely applicable to other communities that are now implementing environmental dashboard.
Petersen, John E., Daniel Rosenberg Daneri, Cindy Frantz, and Md Rumi Shammin. "Environmental Dashboards: Fostering Pro-environmental and Pro-community Thought and Action Through Feedback." In Handbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education, vol. 3, edited by Walter Leal Filho, et al., 149-168. New York: Springer International Publishing, 2016.
Springer International Publishing
Additional Department: Psychology
Sustainability, Feedback, Engaged learning, Community based learning