Discovering Sustainability in New York City

An Interdisciplinary Framework for Teaching in Urban Institutions


  • Karyn Pilgrim State University of New York Empire State College, USA
  • Kevin Woo State University of New York Empire State College, USA


interdisciplinary, place-based, experiential learning, sustainability education, activism


Ecological learning is enriched when students can apply course content to their own communities and gain an understanding and experience for deploying sustainable practices. Such merging of content, application, and place requires an interdisciplinary approach to grapple with the ecological and cultural issues more holistically that sustainability education explores. Guided by the ecological pedagogy of David Orr, founder of the Oberlin Project, we devised a pilot study that combines course content in environmental science, cultural studies, and writing with place-based, experiential, and hands-on learning to empower students to critically analyze their lifestyles and engage in activism for change.


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Author Biographies

Karyn Pilgrim, State University of New York Empire State College, USA

KARYN PILGRIM, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the division of Arts & Humanities, State University of New York Empire State College. Her major research interests lie in the areas of environmental humanities, literary theory, and creative writing. Email:

Kevin Woo, State University of New York Empire State College, USA

KEVIN L. WOO, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Science, Mathematics, & Technology and the Department of Natural Sciences at the State University of New York Empire State College.  His major research interests lie in the area of animal behavior, animal cognition, ecology, and conservation biology.  Email:


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How to Cite

Pilgrim, K., & Woo, K. (2021). Discovering Sustainability in New York City: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Teaching in Urban Institutions. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 10(1), 82–117. Retrieved from