Susan Gentile, MS
Adjunct Faculty, MA in Urban Sustainability
Sue Gentile teaches Urban Sustainability in AULA’s Urban Sustainability Master of Arts Program, and she serves as a mentor to students. Early in her career, Sue worked for over twenty years at Northfield Mount Hermon School as a teacher, coach, dorm head, director of environmental education, chair of the executive committee of the faculty, and dean. Along the way, Sue completed an M.S. in environmental studies with a specialization in environmental education at Antioch University New England. In 2002 Sue began teaching at AUNE, where she continues to teach in Department of Environmental Studies, Department of Education, and Department of Management. She teaches in the environmental education and science teacher certification concentrations in the Department of Environmental Studies; in the Department of Education Sue teaches in a M.Ed. program for in-service K-12 teachers focused on educating for sustainability, which she co-developed; and in the Department of Management she teaches Earth Systems in Organizations in the Sustainability M.B.A Program. As a member of the Board of the United States Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, Sue collaborates with professionals across the country to bring educating for sustainability to education in the U.S. (http://www.uspartnership.org). Sue also serves on the editorial board of Antioch New England’s journal of reflective environmental practice, Whole Terrain, serving as managing editor (www.wholeterrain.org).
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This quotation was taped to Sue’s social studies teacher’s desk when she was in eighth grade. It has been in her mind and in her work ever since. Her goal is to help her students become educators who can enact this quotation, educators who will make a difference in people’s lives and thereby make a difference in the world.
Sue agrees with David Orr that “all education is environmental education.” To be effective, all education must begin with the learner, with what she already knows and brings to the learning experience. Using an interdisciplinary, student-centered, student-directed approach, systems thinking and problem-solving skills can be developed, habits of mind and practice that are needed for sustainable living. Sue’s own teaching style is more guide-on-the-side than sage-on-the-stage. Each educator must discover her own, most effective style and create her own unique “toolkit” and “bag of tricks” to facilitate learning.
A metaphor for Sue’s work is a web of synapses connecting her teaching with others’ teaching. As new synapses are constantly created and old ones are improved with use, the web grows and is strengthened through increasing connections.
A quotation from Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael also comes to mind: “‘What do I do if I earnestly desire to save the world’?…’What you do is teach a hundred what I’ve taught you, and inspire each of them to teach a hundred. That’s how it is always done.’”
Sue is fascinated by communication between people, especially human language. She enjoys exploring the evolution of language, spoken and written, and she is intrigued by the possible effects of electronic communication on the human brain, social interaction, cultural diversity, and humans’ role in the community of life.
MS in Environmental Studies with a Specialization in Environmental Education, Antioch University New EnglandBA in Political Science and Environmental Studies, Williams College