OLIS Sustainable Transportation Class

Vicki Elmer, University of Oregon


This paper describes a pilot graduate sustainable transportation course developed at the 14 University of Oregon to provide hands-on project experience for students studying 15 sustainability. New approaches to sustainability and transportation pedagogies will 16 provide a galvanizing force for tomorrow’s graduates, who must respond to concerns 17 about climate change and the environment, social equity, and an uncertain economy. 18 They will require an aptitude for both technical skills and collaborative leadership and 19 communication skills. 20 The course was guided by a framework founded in five themes from the literature 21 on sustainability education and transportation planning and engineering education: (1) 22 leading with sustainability’s cornerstones of people, prosperity and planet, (2) sponsoring 23 a systems thinking approach to analyze transportation issues and potential solutions, (3) 24 incorporating knowledge from interdisciplinary resources, (4) promoting “softer” skills 25 including communication and leadership, and (5) emphasizing applied learning. The 26 themes aim to overcome institutional barriers and to better prepare students for the 27 rapidly evolving challenges they will encounter in the sustainability and transportation 28 fields. 29 Although the purpose of the project was to develop a framework and 30 institutionalize a sustainable transportation class at the graduate level, the student projects 31 had unforeseen impacts upon the community in furthering innovative technologies and 32 policies. Ultimately, the class was featured in the local progressive weekly newspaper as 33 starting a "sustainable transit revolution.” This paper documents the process, the projects, 34 and puts the experience in the context of literature on the framework themes and 35 sustainability and transportation education.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
December 31,2013
UTC Grant Cycle:
Tier 1 Round 1
UTC Funding: