Cultivating sustainability literacy and public engagement on its behalf requires diverse cultural perspectives, trans-generational timeframes, and local-to-global connectedness. Communities of practice ensure greater engagement for sustainability by the public as local and global citizen scientists.
The need to promote participatory approaches to sustainability literacy in the broader public is clear, however few community-based approaches have been developed to date that integrate disciplines into a holistic perspective of Earth's natural and human systems. Cultivating sustainability literacy and public engagement on its behalf requires embracing diverse cultural perspectives, trans-generational timeframes, and local-to-global connectedness. The complex environmental challenges brought about by rapid development and growth of human populations, together with the current technological revolution that has changed both lifestyles and social norms, call for a new approach to learning that facilitates interdisciplinary action on behalf of sustainability. A need for integrative science and education has shifted the emphasis toward actively using what learners know to explore, negotiate, interpret, and create through collaborative activities across disciplines. As a potentially disruptive innovation, interdisciplinary collaborative learning challenges researchers, students and the public to acknowledge their roles as participants engaged in producing knowledge that integrates and synthesizes data from diverse fields into a whole-systems perspective. The panel focuses on theoretical and case-based papers and discussions of communities of practice to illustrate how researchers, students, policy and community leaders, and the broader public, come to engage in community-based transformational sustainability research and practice. Panelists discuss how networks of researchers, educational practitioners and experts communicate with a wider audience to translate sustainability concepts into terms broadly understood by the public, and on how emergent communities of practice ensure greater engagement on behalf of sustainability by the public, as citizen scientists, locally, nationally, and globally.