From polyps to politics: using a coral reef living laboratory in a politics of sustainability course

  • Adam LuskEmail author
  • Lauren Profitt
  • John Ullrich


Teaching Global Environmental Politics faces several challenges to meet student learning objectives. For one, the interdisciplinary nature of global environmental politics requires significant knowledge of environmental issues, as well as political science, economics, business, and science. Often students feel uncomfortable with the science undergirding the environmental issues, especially since a majority of the students are not science majors. Two, students struggle with making the various connections between the environmental issues themselves, e.g., how deforestation contributes to global warming. Three, students encounter problems taking the concepts and theories learned in the readings and applying them to case studies. To address these challenges and improve student learning, a faculty-student team integrated a coral reef living laboratory into a Politics of Sustainability course which focuses on Global Environmental Politics. This article provides empirical evidence of improved student learning outcomes by using pre/post assessment tools, student surveys, and faculty journals.


Active learning Teaching Coral reefs Sustainability 



This research was partially supported by the SEPCHE/Teagle Building Faculty Capacity for 21st Century Initiative. We would like to thank Rosemont College for not only allowing us to design and implement this course, but also for their support along the way. We also would like to thank Aquarium Specialties and Research Center. Finally, we are grateful for our students who participated in this project.

Supplementary material

13412_2015_316_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 18.8 kb)


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rosemont CollegeRosemontUSA

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