Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.74
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date June 28, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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 program or programs that offer incentives for faculty in multiple disciplines or departments to develop new sustainability courses and/or incorporate sustainability into existing courses?:

A brief description of the program(s), including positive outcomes during the previous three years (e.g. descriptions of new courses or course content resulting from the program):

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

The School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences has funds to incentivize and support research and outreach in its four theme areas: the energy transition, reducing disaster risk, climate solutions, and solutions at the food-water nexus—all sustainability challenges of meeting people's needs while preserving the life support systems of the planet. Additionally, both the School and the university have funds available to incentivize and aid faculty teams in developing new teaching approaches around interdisciplinary issues including sustainability. For example, in 2015 the School funded a faculty team to create a new interdisciplinary course on climate change, and it has similarly supported educational efforts around hazards and resilience. The school (and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education) also supported the development of a freshman course titled “Sustainability Challenges and Transitions”, and provides post-doctoral teaching fellows to partner with faculty teaching the course. The school has also provided start-up funds for a new Masters in Sustainability Science and Practice, and is working with programs and faculty around the university to create a new Sustainability Certificate.

The School of Engineering also provides funds to support the development of sustainability courses. For example, the School of Engineering supported the development of new courses and research projects on sustainable cities, resulting in a course by that name. The Sustainable Cities course is a service-learning course that exposes students to sustainability concepts and urban planning as a tool for determining sustainable outcomes in the Bay Area.

Additionally, the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy offers energyCatalyst grants, which augment course curriculum with expert lectures and experiences related to sustainability. These grants aim to cultivate interdisciplinary thinking and introduce sustainable energy concepts and opportunities to Stanford students. TomKat energyCatalyst grants can be used to subsidize class trips, guest lecturers in a class, and materials for course projects or demonstrations. Examples of successful projects have been taking a class on a site tour, inviting an industry expert to give a class lecture, and purchasing materials for demonstrating, prototyping and testing technology. More information on this program is available here: https://tomkat.stanford.edu/education/energycatalyst-grants.

Finally, the Stanford Woods Institute was founded in 2004 and supports environmental research, teaching, and learning at all levels of the university. The Woods Institute for the Environment appoints faculty fellows from all seven of Stanford’s schools who teach courses related to sustainability. In order to incentivize faculty to create comprehensive sustainability courses, in 2014, the Woods Institute developed its own course catalog designation, ENVRINST, so 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 encourages non-traditional faculty, such as staff and Institute Fellows, to teach sustainability courses.

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

All of the programs described above primarily provide funding to faculty for integrating sustainability into the curriculum in the various ways described. Additionally, faculty who accept affiliation with either the Woods Institute for the Environment or the Precourt Institute for Energy have access to the benefits afforded by the institutes, including complimentary TAs for sustainability courses and professional development opportunities.

Finally, faculty members who develop and teach classes above and beyond their typical schedules are financially compensated for their additional efforts. 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 Thinking Matters courses, "Sustainability and Collapse," and "A Transition Towards Sustainability" qualified for this financial incentive.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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