|Submission Date||Oct. 10, 2014|
University of Alberta
ER-14: Incentives for Developing Sustainability Courses
Academic Director of the Office of Sustainability
Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology
Does the institution have a program that meets the criteria outlined above?:
A brief description of the program(s):
SUSTAINABILITY ENHANCEMENT FUND
The Sustainability Enhancement Fund was launched on January 10, 2011. It exists to improve sustainability on campus in the following areas: outreach and engagement, teaching, research and improvements to facilities and operations. It is also intended to advance progress in the University of Alberta’s Sustainability Plan, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System and the ideas shared in a companion document to the Academic Plan entitled “Integrating Sustainability into the Academic Experience”. The Office of Sustainability is responsible for the stewardship and administration of the Sustainability Enhancement Fund. Project proposals are accepted from current UAlberta students, faculty and staff, and are selected based on merit, positive impact, implementation feasibility, and available funding. In the area of teaching, the Sustainability Enhancement Fund aims to build opportunities for engaging and educating students, faculty and staff so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in formal learning about sustainability.
Examples of projects funded by the Sustainability Enhancement Fund that are exploring opportunities to integrate content into the curriculum include:
“Prairie Urban Farm” (2014): This is a one-acre mixed crop garden on the University of Alberta South Campus. The goal of the Prairie Urban Farm is to demonstrate an alternative, regenerative way of growing food within the city. Through workshops and open garden sessions, it encourages skill-building in food production and preservation.
“Chemical and Materials Engineering Building Energy Visualization and Dashboard” (2011-2012): This project established virtual dashboards that provide real-time, easily accessible immediate feedback on energy and water use in laboratories. In addition to influencing lab practices related to fumehoods, experimental apparatus and water use at the lab level, an interactive building entrance kiosk serves as an informational outreach and education portal regarding the University of Alberta's sustainability initiatives.
“Augustana In-Vessel Composting Initiative” (2010-2011): An in-vessel composter was installed at the Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta. Related outreach programs provided leadership to show how an institution can deal with its organic waste on-site.
The Office of Sustainability offers Green Grants to support projects that produce measurable benefits and results at the University of Alberta. All students, faculty and staff are eligible for Green Grants. Grants can be used for supplies, materials, advertising, or to offset speaker/trainer fees and their travel expenses. Projects should incorporate bias-balanced approaches, collaboration and lead to positive changes on our campus. Strong applications will demonstrate how they can help the University of Alberta make progress on its Sustainability Plan and achieve results in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS™). Projects eligible for sponsorship could include: demonstration sites, educational events, office green teams, bicycle clinics, skill-building activities, behaviour change programs, contests and challenges.
Examples of past projects funded by Green Grants:
“Reverse the Discount Research Project” (2012-2013): This class project examined whether it is possible to charge consumers a fee when they use disposable cups versus offering consumers a discount when they use a reusable cup.
“Teaching, Learning, and Indigenous Philosophies” (2011-2012): This project was associated with a course called EDSE 501: Teaching, Learning, and Indigenous Philosophies: A Curricular and Pedagogical Inquiry and associated visits to sacred sites in east central Alberta.
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENHANCEMENT FUND (TLEF)
The TLEF was created to improve teaching and learning effectiveness. Applications are invited from all University of Alberta instructors who seek innovative ways of creating exceptional learning experiences and environments. It is anticipated that this fund will support a diverse range of initiatives specifically focused on creating exceptional and life-changing university experiences for students. One category in TLEF involves projects or research proposals in the area of teaching and learning. The purpose of this category is to enable educators to improve their courses through substantially redesigning a curriculum of studies, developing educational resources, and/or researching educational outcomes achieved through using innovative educational methods.
TLEF is a tool that is available for instructors to build sustainability into the curriculum. As an example, a TLEF-funded program in 2012 involved the creation of a course on Science Citizenship (SCI 299). This is a novel credit/no-credit, 3 credit hour, year-long course designed to allow student groups to research the science behind a chosen global issue, orally present the results of that research and implement a local solution to that issue. The course emphasizes student-centred knowledge construction, peer mentoring, active and discovery learning, effective teamwork, creative problem-solving and citizenship to the community.
COMMUNITY SERVICE-LEARNING (CSL) PARTNERSHIP GRANT
The CSL Partnership Grant funds two-year partnerships between university instructors and community organizations in the Edmonton region that engage groups of U of A students across disciplines with a primary focus on either a social change project or community-based research. Its purpose is to incubate innovative learning projects. Grants targeted primarily at social change activities will expand students’ learning about social issues and foster appreciation for the complexities and rewards of positive social action. Grants targeted primarily at community-based research will provide opportunities for students to gain hands on research experience with research design, methods and dissemination in a collaborative university-community process.
FACULTY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS
Faculty Development Workshops are designed to encourage innovative teaching practices, greater classroom-guided research opportunities, and community service-learning as they relate to sustainability. A Faculty Development Workshop on “Broadening Participation in Sustainability Education and Research” was offered on February 7, 2014. The key purpose of this workshop was to generate ideas and identify opportunities to broaden sustainability education and research at the University of Alberta. This is one of the key goals of the academic arm of the Office of Sustainability. Invitees were both newer and more established faculty members who are recognized teachers of sustainability content in their courses, and/or professors who address sustainability in their research programs. The workshop focused on how to better support faculty, reach out to students, and prepare both faculty and students to understand, study and engage with current sustainability issues and problems in the future.
FESTIVAL OF TEACHING
The University of Alberta’s annual Festival of Teaching is a year-round celebration of excellence and innovation in teaching. The goals are to open multiple avenues for the U of A community to engage in a broad exploration and discussion of teaching and pedagogical methods, and to work in partnership with groups and units across campus to create and augment stimulating events with a pedagogical focus. The 2014 Festival of Teaching examined the question of sustainable teaching and learning. Some of the events included the following:
- February 5, 2014: The Craft of Teaching Sustainability (U of A North Campus). In this presentation, Dr. Gary Machlis described and illustrated the craftsmanship that can be applied to the teaching of sustainability.
- February 6, 2014: The Craft of Teaching Local Sustainability (Augustana Campus). Dr. Gary Machlis illustrated how teaching sustainability is part of educating the 'whole person'. He revealed how university teaching is a craft, and that its skills and techniques can be shared, learned and honed.
- March 10, 2014: Augustana Campus Forum (Augustana Campus): Augustana professors and students shared their experiences of sustainable learning practices. They asked questions such as: How can we teach to sustain life-long learning? How does continuing to be a learner sustain us as teachers?
A brief description of the incentives that faculty members who participate in the program(s) receive:
- Participants in the Faculty Development Workshops and Festival of Teaching are exposed to new ideas about how to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. They are also able to network with potential collaborators.
- The Sustainability Enhancement Fund, Green Grants and Teaching and Learning Fund provide the financial support to enable interested faculty members to develop programs that incorporate sustainability into the curriculum.
- The Community Service-Learning Partnership Grant provides funding for faculty to develop courses involving social change projects or community-based research, both of which lend themselves to sustainability course foci.
The website URL where information about the program is available:
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.