Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 74.63
Liaison Melissa Maigler
Submission Date July 30, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Stanford University
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing incentives program or programs that meet the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the program(s), including positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Stanford provides incentives for developing sustainability classes through multiple departments and institutes, including the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Precourt Institute for Energy, and School of Earth Sciences. Affiliation with these organizations offers faculty who teach sustainability courses numerous professional development and other incentives.

The Stanford Woods Institute was founded in 2004 as part of The Stanford Challenge, a university-wide initiative to address the world’s most pressing problems of the modern era, including the Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability. The Woods Institute supports environmental research, teaching, and learning at all levels of the university.

The Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE) serves as a hub for a number of centers, programs, and projects related to interdisciplinary energy research and learning at Stanford. PIE provides funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research, creates and maintains avenues for effective communication and intellectual exchange among scholars and others seeking energy solutions, and develops energy-literate leaders and communities through educational programs and the dissemination of research results.

Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences houses two of the university’s largest interdisciplinary sustainability programs: the Earth Systems program and the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. Both of these programs seek to educate the next generation of environmental leaders and scholars.

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

The Stanford Woods Institute and PIE have the ability to appoint their own faculty fellows. Faculty who accept affiliation with one of these programs have access to a range of resources and incentives for creating sustainability courses, including complimentary TAs for sustainability courses and professional development. PIE administers the ongoing Energy Seminar, a weekly lecture series in which professors and researchers are invited to speak about sustainability issues. Through the weekly Environmental Forum series, the Woods Institute holds academic interdisciplinary talks for Woods Faculty and Woods Affiliated Faculty throughout the academic year on a weekly basis.

The Woods Institute recently standardized the teaching of sustainability courses by creating its own course catalog designation, ENVRINST. Now, sustainability courses at Stanford need not be confined by the designation of a particular department, but instead can be taught under the Woods Institute designation. This enables and incentivizes non-traditional faculty, such as staff and Institute Fellows, to teach sustainability courses.

Throughout 2010 and 2011, the university launched the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford, which sought to re-evaluate how the undergraduate curriculum and requirements are determined. The full text of the report, which addresses sustainability courses, can be found online: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/undergrad/sues/SUES_Report.pdf.

Over the past three years, Stanford has created university-wide momentum for teaching more sustainability courses. As stated in President Hennessy's 2011 Annual Report, "the Stanford Challenge also provided essential facilities to support groundbreaking research and teaching. By the campaign’s conclusion, 26 new buildings — including 10 that support multidisciplinary research and teaching — had been constructed. Many replaced buildings that were more than 50 years old and completely unable to support modern research or teaching." An opportunity to teach in a world-class facility has incentivized faculty members to develop sustainability and other multidisciplinary courses.

Finally, faculty members who develop and teach classes above and beyond the typical schedule are financially compensated for their additional effort. Therefore, there is a financial incentive to develop and offer new courses at Stanford, and some faculty have developed sustainability courses in order to take advantage of this incentive. For example, two new Thinking Matters courses, "Sustainability and Collapse," and "A Transition Towards Sustainability" qualified for this financial incentive.

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The website URL where information about the incentive program(s) is available:

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