Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.49
Liaison David Cullmer
Submission Date Dec. 17, 2020

STARS v2.2

Pennsylvania State University
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
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Does the institution have an ongoing program that offers incentives for academic staff in multiple disciplines or departments to develop new sustainability courses and/or incorporate sustainability into existing courses? :
Yes

A brief description of the incentive program(s):

The Sustainability Institute provides funding for a full-time Academic Programs Manager (APM) whose primary role is to encourage and help faculty to integrate sustainability into their courses. Over the last three years, the APM has provided support for curricular or co-curricular program development in each of University Park’s thirteen colleges. Examples include:
• Conducted audits of sustainability curriculum content in three colleges/schools;
• Provided one-on-one consulting or in-person or virtual lectures to dozens of faculty members in over five academic departments;
• Cooperated with the Palmer Museum of Art and Center for Performing Arts to coordinate teaching with exhibitions and performances, including through grant opportunities provided by the Mellon Foundation.

The Sustainability Institute also runs the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC), which connects faculty and students with local communities to address sustainability challenges. Each project is a facilitated effort involving interdisciplinary faculty and students, and is co-led by a key community leader and the University’s SCC staff. In AY2018-19, nine faculty integrated an SCC project into their classes, some with multiple sections.

Penn State recently added a new Integrative Studies (IS) requirement to its General Education curriculum, applicable to the 2018-19 entering class. IS courses are designed to help students gain a broader understanding of how information can be integrated across different knowledge domains to boost learning. Sustainability courses fall solidly into this realm. Seed grant funding was offered in 2017 and 2018 to incentive development of these courses. This funding contributed to the development of 31 new or revised courses at the University Park campus in its first year, and another 7 in the second.

The College of Arts and Architecture is hosting the Sustainability Teaching Roundtable from fall 2019-2020 (extended because of COVID-19). The goal of the series is to embed sustainability education and pedagogy into the teaching culture of the College. The series includes discussions on a wide range of topics concerning sustainability, curricular planning, and engagement across the college’s academic units. In October 2020, the cohort will report out its curricular developments.

The Dr. John Roe Fund for a Just and Sustainable Future was established in 2019, in memory of a math professor and department head whose passion was sustainability. Funds will be used to support faculty members who integrate sustainability into their coursework, as well as for student engagement opportunities, and to establish a Student Sustainability Award. The first curricular development awards will be used to incentivize the development of environmental justice coursework. They will be awarded in the 2020-21 academic year.


A brief description of the incentives that academic staff who participate in the program(s) receive:

The Sustainability Institute academic programs manager is available to help interested faculty integrate sustainability into their courses.

Staff from the Sustainable Communities Collaborative facilitate and help to oversee partnerships between community partners and faculty who wish to incorporate experiential learning elements into their courses.

The GenEd Integrative Studies Seed Grant program offered a financial incentive of $5,000 for course revisions and $8,000 for new course development. The Academic Programs Manager has provided personalized guidance and administrative support for the development of sustainability courses.

Faculty in the College of Arts and Architecture were invited to apply to the Sustainability Teaching Roundtable. Funding for that series has been provided by several units within the College, as well as the university-level Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.

Funds from the Dr. John Roe Fund for a Just and Sustainable Future are offered on an annual basis. The first curricular development awards will be used to incentivize the development of environmental justice coursework. They will be awarded in the 2020-21 academic year.

A grant from the Mellon Foundation has provided approximately $30,000 for the development of courses that provide connections between performance and other disciplines. A course in the College of Nursing will bring performance, environmental sustainability and nursing practice together. The Academic Programs Manager assists in this course development.


Website URL where information about the incentives for developing sustainability course content is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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