LSE Course Descriptions

Course offerings for the current academic year can be found on the Course Planning Guide on the program of study page.

ELP 550: Advanced Leadership for Sustainability (4)
This interdisciplinary and multisensory seminar and discussion course reviews and analyzes various approaches to sustainability leadership. A number of key themes related to leadership for sustainability are addressed: The meaning of sustainability leadership; approaches to leadership and strategies and skills used by sustainability leaders; whole systems thinking and design; the role of eco-spiritual values and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in sustainability leadership; and the importance of collaboration, creativity, relationships, and reflection. We will get inspiration from local leaders and organizations that are creating sustainable systems and change. Through reading, discussion and experiential service learning, we will develop our own sustainability leadership project.

ELP 548: Advanced Global Political Ecology (4)
Political ecology is the study of the relationships between political, economic, social, and ecological issues. Political ecology acknowledges that at their core, ecological problems are political and social and therefore require an understanding and analysis of the complex social, economic and political relationships in which they are embedded. Political ecology provides a framework for looking at ecological degradation and social and economic injustice through the same lens, rather than separately. To develop a shared understanding of this emerging discipline of political ecology, we investigate the impact of a globalized economy on human and non-human communities; the relationships between poverty, global inequities, and environmental degradation; the distribution of resource use and conflicts between the global North and global South; ecological restoration and ecological and social justice; and the relationship of these issues to our personal lives. We will examine these vexing issues through community-based learning opportunities, commodities studies, readings, discussions, and group projects.

ELP 517/617: Ecological and Cultural Foundations of Learning (4)
This course explores how we teach and learn ecologically and what constitutes ecological and cultural ways of knowing. This course goes beyond simply justifying or advocating that our education should be grounded in ecological principles and explores how teaching and learning can be designed so that it is interdisciplinary, co-created, critically questions cultural norms, is place-based, participatory, experiential, and transformational. Building on the work of numerous sustainability educators, this course engages in multi-sensory and interdisciplinary pedagogical inquiry. Students will create a teaching philosophy that reflects an understanding of ecological principles and sustainability pedagogy, and will demonstrate the design and implementation of an effective teaching experience.

ELP 519: Sustainability Education (4)
In order to build robust theory and practice, this course surveys local, national, and global innovations in sustainability education even as we critically assess earlier traditions such as nature education, environmental education, outdoor education, etc. Participants also explore the intersections of indigenous, ecofeminist, and ecojustice perspectives/approaches to sustainability. As a practical outcome, students develop ideas, plans, and design for a sustainability education program based on their interests for: higher education, preK-12 schools, or non-formal education. This course can be used as a synthesis of other classes or as an entry into this worldview.

ELP 510: Theory and Practice of Sustainability (4)
This course has been offered as an experiential travel course in 2010 in Oregon, in 2011 & 2012 in Costa Rica, in 2013 in Cuba, in 2014 on the San Juan Islands, and in 2015, 2016 & 2017 at the Finca Esperanza Verde in Nicaragua. Course themes have included deep ecology and regenerative practices for self and community. Currently the description is: Spend a week in the mountains of Nicaragua, immersed in regenerative practices for self and local communities and ecosystems. Finca Esperanza Verde offers a close up look at a community that is intentionally engaging in economic, social, and ecological regenerative practices. Finca Esperanza Verde provides local Nicaraguans with profitable and sustainable ways to share their culture with visiting tourists and has received international recognition as a model of poverty alleviation through sustainable tourism and other socially responsible programs. At Finca Esperanza Verde we will learn about regenerative projects from local community members who are directly involved in co-creating resilient and abundant systems. We’ll learn about regenerative economic systems by visiting local women’s cooperatives, and touring the Finca’s organic coffee farm. We’ll learn about regenerative ecological systems by exploring tropical ecosystems and learning about butterflies and birds. Additionally, we’ll learn about social and cultural regeneration through an understanding of local history, involvement with a local school, local musicians, and local food traditions. We will also explore regenerative practices through stories, readings, group reflection and guided contemplative activities, as well as daily quiet time alone, journaling, and movement such as daily morning yoga, swimming, and hiking. Locally procured healthy meals will also contribute to our regenerative practice. During this class we will explore the following questions: How can we engage in regenerative practices that contribute to long-term resilience and abundance in ourselves and in communities? What do regenerative practices look like in ourselves, in a Nicaraguan community, and in vibrant ecosystems? What can we learn about regeneration and resilience from natural systems? How can a personal practice of regeneration impact my sustainability/ leadership/activism/change-making work?

ELP 410/510: Permaculture and Whole Systems Design: Principles and Practices for Sustainable Systems (4)
Permaculture is the study and observation of ecosystems, integrated with insights and practices of diverse indigenous peoples, combined to create an ethical whole systems design process. This course explores permaculture and whole systems design principles in order to apply these concepts to the envisioning, designing, and development of sustainable social, educational, and land-based systems. Learners will gain a firm understanding of permaculture principles and an ecological design process, and will apply this understanding to create educational designs that promote sustainable, regenerative, and ecologically and socially just systems. 

ELP 410/510: Nonviolence and Gandhi's Educational Philosophy (4)
This course has a two-fold goal: to study the principle of nonviolence as defined by Gandhi and to examine how this principle may be applied in our daily lives, including educational and other work settings. We explore the links among nonviolence, conflict resolution, and Gandhi's notions of community, sarvodaya (welfare of all), anekantvada (belief in many doctrines), labor, self-sufficiency, and non-exploitative modes of living. These connections are also examined in Gandhi's educational program of nai talim (new education). This course adopts a unique approach to practicing nonviolence and conflict resolution in education. While we will search for and develop specific practical approaches to dealing with these challenges, participants will ask "broader" questions related to what it means to be nonviolent. We will consider the contemporary relevance of Gandhi's nonviolence as a way of living focusing on key facets of Gandhian theory and practice for ecological sustainability.

ELP 540: Urban Farm Education: Leveraging Policy and Research to Cultivate Garden-Based Education in Practice (4) 
Garden-Based Education (GBE) has the potential to improve educational opportunities for all students, to increase community food security and access to healthful foods, to promote wellness through health and nutrition education, and to reconnect learners of all ages to the natural world. GBE is an emerging approach to learning and teaching that can influence individual and collective knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to academics, heath, and the environment. As a community of lifelong learners, we will explore the policy and research context related to school food and gardens, and how policies can pose barriers or potential leverage points for systemic change. In addition, we will review learning theories and garden-based educational research to inform us how GBE can impact curriculum, school food, physical and social learning environments, and community public health. We will also spend time at the Learning Gardens Laboratory, getting our hands dirty. These understandings and experiences will provide a foundation for developing integrated, garden-based instructional units that are aligned with state and/or national educational standards, and to teach others (children or adults) in garden-based learning environments.

ELP 524: Spiritual Leadership for Sustainable Change
This course explores how spirituality is integrated into teaching and learning, and into the work of engaged citizens. Spiritual leadership is explored through such themes such as: authenticity, identity, paradox, relationships, and sustainability. Community-based learning provides an opportunity to examine leadership and sustainability issues through a spiritual lens.  Deep questioning and reflection will support the exploration of how spirituality is integrated into teaching and learning, and into our daily lives and work. All projects and readings are designed to create an open inquiry into the questions: “What is spiritual leadership?” and  “How is spiritual leadership connected to sustainability leadership and creating sustainable change?”

ELP 503: LSE Thesis (4+) 
Students work individually with their adviser to define, develop and present a thesis that demonstrates a satisfactory level of knowledge and skill related to sustainability education. The thesis is likely to require 4-6 quarters of work before the completion. Students need instructor's permission before enrolling in the course.

ELP 506: COMPS Exam (4)
This course is designed to provide support to students completing their Comprehensive Examination (Paper). The Comprehensive Examination (Comps) is one of two options (the other is Thesis) required for completing the ELP Master’s degree. The four (4) credit ELP 506 Comps course is required for students electing the Comps option. This course will be offered to help students design, write, and present their Comprehensive Paper at the final meeting of the course. Students should have completed a minimum of 35 credits before enrolling in the course.

ELP 508: Sense of PLace (1)
What does sense of place mean and how does it develop? This course provides an overview of the broad and rich scholarship that has been emerging on this topic drawing from anthropology, cultural geography, ecological education, sociology, and urban planning. As an individually and socially constructed phenomenon, relationship to place is complex and so is the creation and development of meaning, attachment, and identity based on this relationship. Sense of place is recognized as a key component of sustainability and sustainability education. In order to deepen our sense of place, we will use Portland as an example to explore ways in which we can look at, feel about, and engage with place in order to develop a sense of it.


ELP Professional Studies Core Courses

ELP 551: 
Social Foundations of Education (4)
Study of sociological theories that illuminate the effects of education on individuals and society. Problem areas in race, class, and gender are explored in the process of examining theories of socialization, certification, allocation, and legitimation and their application to historical and current educational situations.

ELP 554: 
Philosophy of Education (4)
Study and comparison of the philosophical bases of educational ideas and of the educational implications of philosophical thought. Course includes an additional, concurrent 30 hour minimum field project requirement.

ELP 511: 
Principles of Educational Research and Data Analysis (4, 4)
Research paradigm; measurement and test characteristics; planning and evaluation; library resources; identifying research problems; planning research; types of research; research designs, central tendency, variability and relationships; sampling, sampling error, and hypothesis testing; crossbreaks; one, two, and multiple group, and multiple independent variable designs; computer applications; information systems. Prerequisite: graduate standing.

ELP 520: 
Developmental Perspectives on Adult Learning (4)
Explores professional applications of adult development theory and research to facilitating adult learning in a wide variety of contexts, including formal educational and training programs as well as general environments such as learning organizations. Course includes an additional, concurrent 30 hour minimum field project requirement. Prerequisite: admission to a graduate program.

ELP 568: 
Educational Organization and Administration (4)
Examination of the role, functions, and responsibilities of the educational leaders and administrators; study of administrative and organizational theory and its application to the operation of educational programs and organizations in various settings, including school districts, higher education and educational divisions in private sector organizations. Course includes an additional, concurrent 30 hour minimum field project requirement. Prerequisite: graduate standing.


Undergraduate Courses

ELP 350U: Introduction to Leadership for Sustainability (4)
This multi-media seminar course reviews, analyzes and critiques the history, politics and rhetoric of sustainability. Students are exposed to a variety of whole systems design in sustainability as well as examples from the grassroots including the growing conservation economy in the Pacific Northwest, and the issue of indigenous cultures and sustainability. Students apply these concepts in real life by developing a wildest dream project in sustainability and outlining social, natural and economic capital needed to implement it.

ELP 348U: Introduction to Global Political Ecology (4)
This course surveys a broad range of topics at the convergence of thinking about ecology and globalization. Students examine how the emergence of a global economy along with its technological, financial, and institutional developments has impacted life for both human and non-human communities. To apply these concepts and personalize the historical material, the focus is on various "commodities" with which we interact, such as salmon, tomatoes, and oil. As a foil to the global aspect, this course emphasizes the relocalization approach and examine ways in which local communities are generating alternatives to those aspects of globalization that are seen to be unjust, disempowering, and even eco-cidal.

ELP 349U: Gandhi, Zapata and Topics in New Agrarianism (4)
What is the role of food, land and agriculture in the imagination of an ecologically sustainable, socially just, and bio-culturally diverse future? This course examines the legacies Mahatma Gandhi and Emiliano Zapata might have for the emergent local food economy in North America and in individual student's bioregion. While firmly grounded in the farms and gardens in the Portland Metro area, students review local, bioregional and global trends in production, distribution and marketing of food, and develop comparative perspectives.

ELP 324U Introduction to Spiritual Leadership
This course provides an introductory exploration into spirituality and its connection to leadership. The meaning of engaged spiritual leadership will be examined through such themes such as: identity, paradox, interconnectedness, and sustainability. A community-based field project offers an opportunity to examine leadership issues through the lens of spirituality.