Real-World Learning Experiences
for Sustainability

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand." - Chinese Proverb

This website seeks to empower you, the instructor to bring Real-World Learning Experiences (RWLE) into your own classroom. Incorporating RWLEs into your sustainability classes can be both helpful and challenging. It can help you motivate students, build valuable relationships with community partners and colleagues, illustrate complex concepts, theories and processes, and help students develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes important for sustainability problem solving. On the other hand, it requires some time, effort, and expertise to design and implement exciting activities, whose components are internally aligned to produce desired learning outcomes within a class, and externally aligned with other activities in a curriculum to produce desired learning outcomes within a program.

Here we seek to facilitate the process of implementing RWLE by organizing the RWLE into a progressive model that teaches knowledge, skills, and attitudes relevant for sustainability problem solving over the course of four undergraduate years. Each level – one for each year of the undergraduate program – revolves around a type of RWLE: bringing the world into the classroom, visiting the world, simulating the world, and finally engaging the world to support change. For each RWLE we provide a structured guide and for the less common types, we complement the guide with a specific example ready to deploy and an assignment to go along with that example.

The staircase model offers students a pathway through their degree program, which allows them to progressively develop their skills in collaborative problem solving.


The Real-World Learning Experiences (RWLE) resource is hosted and made possible by Sustainability Connect, a platform that facilitates applied projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities between ASU and the community to address a variety of complex sustainability challenges. Sustainability Connect identifies projects that address existing sustainability issues on campus or in the community. It offers great opportunities to augment academic learning with real-world, experiential opportunities and applications while providing evidence-based, sustainable pathways for change.