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Engaging with the World

Real World Learning Experience: Level 400

In 400 level RWLEs, students engage with the world through experiences like collaborative or independent research projects, continuing to learn through experience while also applying what they have learned to create or support change. Students collaborate with peers, community partners, and stakeholders to complete tasks knowing that they are primarily responsible for success or failure of their project. Key mastery goals at this level are related to the spectrum of professional skills, in particularly related to project management and stakeholder engagement, as well as crafting and testing of sustainability solution options.

Benefits of these types of activities:

  • Requires students to fully formulate thoughts, arguments, and ideas in a thoughtful, logical, accessible and respectful way to diverse audiences.
  • Exciting way for students to delve into a topic of interest to them and a project partner and to self-direct their process while aiming to generate mutually beneficial outputs.
  • Can produce product / experience that students can use to market self in job interviews and other applications.
  • Involves instructors in the role of advisor, coach and sounding board.

Examples of related learning objectives:

  • Develop research questions and hypotheses by reflecting on what is “known” and “not known” and whether answers to that question would produce relevant information and benefit for potential users.
  • Take responsibility for picking topics, outlining experience outputs, learning necessary methods, and managing self and team in a research process.
  • Recognize and resourcefully respond to changes and challenges.
  • Reflect on what is gained by engaging the world in sustainability education.


[1] Sarewitz, D., & Pielke, R. A. (2007). The neglected heart of science policy: reconciling supply of and demand for science. Environmental science & policy, 10(1), 5-16.