Finding Heart: Generating and Maintaining Hope and Agency through Sustainability Education
In his landmark book Native Science (2000), indigenous educator Gregory Cajete eloquently articulates the motivations and questions that drive this study. For Cajete, effective education of our time entails “finding heart.” Finding heart is an active process within and beyond the person. It is evident in ethically and spiritually grounded work and being that embody meaningful connection to and care for others and nature (p. 288). This article relates to the process of finding heart through sustainability education. It presents a grounded-theory-based study of aspects of sustainability education that motivate or detract from activating hope and agency among undergraduate college students. Specific aspects of conceptual and social engagement, as well as the duration of these effects, are examined in some depth, with the voices of students themselves reflecting the diversity, depth, and power of their experience. The author concludes by suggesting that generating hope and agency among students is a vitally important outcome for sustainability education as part of the larger movement for sustainability. She also suggests curriculum design considerations for effectively activating hope and agency among students.