Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 79.98
Liaison Lindsey Lyons
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

Dickinson College
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Lindsey Lyons
Assistant Director
Center for Sustainability Education
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

Students from all academic programs are encouraged to engage in sustainability research through student-faculty research grants from the Sustainability Education Fund (SEF), sustainability designated and living laboratory courses, and paid internships. The SEF offers grants of up to $12,000 for student-faculty research projects and for student research assistantships. These grant programs have enabled Dickinson students to participate in research with faculty on a variety of sustainability related topics, including global climate change, climate change mitigation, ocean acidification, green chemistry, renewable energy, integrated organic pest management, wildlife conservation, and vermiculture. Many of the research projects have used the Dickinson Organic Farm, the Reineman Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Dickinson campus as contexts for the research. Paid internships with Dickinson’s Alliance for Aquatic Resources Monitoring (ALLARM), Center for Sustainability Education (CSE), Dickinson Organic Farm, and Dining Services have engaged students in research on watershed protection, energy conservation, waste minimization, biodiesel production, natural gas fracking, sustainable agriculture, and local and seasonal foods. Living laboratory courses have engaged students in research on actions to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions and have yielded recommendations that have been implemented by the college.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) provides Sustainability Education Funding (SEF) for projects and research that advances sustainability or climate change-related learning, research, scholarship, and creativity.

Student-faculty research awards are given to faculty in any discipline that engage a student and faculty member as co-investigators or co-creators in a significant, collaborative research activity, scholarly project, or creative work to advance understanding of sustainability or climate change.

As of Spring 2020, CSE has awarded more than $600,000 in 270 sub awards to 150 unique faculty members in all divisions of the college. The include:

54 Student-Faculty Research Grants (supporting 95 students)
10 Research Assistant Grants

The last three years have brought us increased diversity in participating departments with 38/42 departments offering sustainability courses or faculty conducting research in the 2019-20 academic year.

These incentives facilitate a better understanding of how to meet the critical needs for present and future generations while improving and sustaining the environmental, social, and economic systems on which they depend.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:
The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

Dickinson College values interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching and gives them weight in faculty tenure and promotion decisions equal to scholarship and teaching in traditional disciplines. The value accorded to interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching is evidenced by the large number of interdisciplinary majors and certificates that are offered, the number of faculty who participate in these programs, and the number of these faculty who have been granted tenure.

Chapter 8 of our Academic Handbook has our Criteria for Assessing the Academic Program and states “The College should be committed to fostering a curriculum which grants equal status to disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses,…” Our Personnel Committee considers that a mandate to give credit to all forms of interdisciplinary work in promotion, tenure, and salary increases. We also have a statement (see attached files) endorsing community engaged scholarship – though it doesn’t explicitly mention interdisciplinarity, that is common and assumed. Moreover, at Dickinson, this directly endorses sustainability related work as we have committed to an across the curriculum (interdisciplinary) approach to sustainability education.

Additionally, our Center for Civic Learning and Action (CCLA) works to create collaborative communities of inquiry (Learning and Action Networks). Faculty, students and community partners engage in interdisciplinary field research to create shared knowledge, working toward greater equality, peace and social justice. Example Learning and Action Networks include food security, water, and our Northside Neighborhood. Faculty are incentivized to conduct this research with students in classes via internal research funds targeting community engagement and interdisciplinary learning.

Academic Handbook:

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

The Waidner-Spahr Library at Dickinson hosts and manages on online research guide for sustainability. This guide contains information and links to help users get started with sustainability research. It is organized according to the format and type of information needed. Because research on sustainability can cross over many academic disciplines (such as Biology, Environmental Studies, History, Business, Sociology, Psychology, or Economics), students are strongly encouraged to consult with a librarian for help with specific topics.

Extensive collections of books, films, journals, databases, and internet resources are available in this guide.

Additionally, there is library liaison assigned to sustainability.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Dickinson encourages interdisciplinary student and faculty research in sustainability by providing a supportive curricular structure, funding for students and faculty, professional development workshops, and extensive library resources.

Funding support, in the form of small grants, is available from the Center for Sustainability Education's Sustainability Education Fund (SEF) for a wide variety of activities that advance sustainability and climate change related learning, scholarship, and creativity. CSE welcomes faculty and teaching staff who are developing sustainability content and ideas for the first time, as well as those developing existing connections or research. Projects are encouraged from all divisions of the college.

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