Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.01
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Richard Miller
Director
Ofice of Environmental Policy
"---" 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?:
Yes

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):

The Provost’s Office General Education Course Enhancement Grant Competition:
The Provost’s Office General Education Course Enhancement Grant Competition is designed to promote the ongoing enhancement of UConn’s General Education curriculum. Every year the General Education Oversight Committee solicits proposals for interesting or innovative revised new general education courses. Winning proposals are awarded between $1,000 - $7,500 to be applied to buyout of semester salary, summer salary, course-related expenses, or to a faculty member’s ledger 2 research account. With the university adopting an Environmental Literacy GenEd requirement in 2019, this program directly relates to environmental literacy. For the 2019-2020 award cycle, two of the five winning proposals were for courses that satisfied the environmental literacy general education requirement as detailed below.
https://geoc.uconn.edu/course-development-grant-competition/
https://geoc.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/161/2019/09/Provosts-Gen-Ed-Course-Enhancement-Grant-Competition_2019-Final.pdf

Honors Core Course Grant Competition:
In 2018, the UConn Honors Program implemented the Honors Core Course Grant Competition, which seeks proposals for new or revised interdisciplinary courses, many that involve both social and environmental sustainability. Regular tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track faculty from any discipline at any UConn campus may apply. Awards vary from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $7,500 to support course development.

Recent Recipients:
• Spring Valley Student Farm Service Learning Courses:
https://sl.engagement.uconn.edu/2017/11/21/uconn-student-run-farm/
• Engineering for Human Rights Initiative:
https://humanrights.uconn.edu/2019/04/17/engineering-for-human-rights-initiative/

Supporting Background Information:
Environmental Literacy General Education Requirement:
In February 2018, the University Senate approved an Environmental Literacy General Education Requirement, which requires students to take at least one sustainability related course during their education at UConn.
Environmental Literacy (EL) courses provide students with the ability to understand, and articulate perspectives on, the interactions between human society and the natural world, as well as the challenges of environmental stewardship. A course from any disciplinary area may satisfy the EL requirement, provided that it focuses throughout on one or more of the following:
1. theories, observations, or models of how humans impact the health and well-being of the natural world;
2. theories, observations, or models of how the natural world affects human health and well-being;
3. public policies, legal frameworks, and/or other social systems that affect the environment;
4. moral and/or ethical dimensions regarding the environment;
5. cultural, creative, or artistic representations of human-environment interactions.

Environmental Literacy Workgroup:
The Environmental Literacy Workgroup identifies areas of improvement in environmental awareness and education, and helps advertise and promote environmental leadership, engagement and outreach throughout the UConn community. The efforts have helped establish and enhance many academic programs and courses around the concepts of the Campus as a Living Laboratory and experiential learning projects and activities.

The Environmental Literacy Workgroup was instrumental in instigating the creation of UConn’s Env Studies B.A. degree program in 2012-13. This has resulted in many new courses throughout the social sciences and humanities disciplines, like Asst. Geography Professor Carol Atkinson-Palombo’s Amsterdam/Sustainable Cities three-week module: https://geography.uconn.edu/2017/11/07/geography-professor-to-lead-sustainable-amsterdam-study-abroad-in-summer-2018/

The Environmental Literacy Workgroup and its Climate Adaptation Task Force also helped inspire the creation of UConn’s Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaption in 2014, in partnership with state and federal agencies, like EPA, NOAA and the CT DEEP. CIRCA incentivizes interdisciplinary faculty involvement by providing a platform for sponsored and applied research, and experiential learning, through numerous community-based resilience programs and activities. In recent years, these programs have included the following:
https://circa.uconn.edu/2017/08/09/circa-grant-to-city-of-hartford-launches-sustainability-office-and-citys-first-climate-action-plan/
http://events.uconn.edu/event/56933/2017-10-19

Green Campus Academic Network (GCAN):
As a point of emphasis in recent years, the OS has also reached out to newer, non-tenured and non-tenure track faculty to form the Green Campus Academic Network (GCAN). GCAN has the purpose of raising awareness among interested faculty members about opportunities for engagement in campus sustainability activities and events, and collaboration on experiential learning projects and research opportunities, which might help them achieve tenure or enhance their sustainability-related courses. http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/green-campus-academic-network/

Courses and programs that have emerged from GCAN:
• ENVE 1000 (Env Engineering 1000): An interdisciplinary course in Environmental Sustainability, structured around experiential learning and campus as a living laboratory
• UConn@COP Program: The UConn@COP program strives to build future leaders in climate science and policy, and to promote UConn’s leadership on climate change and sustainability issues. Since 2015, UConn has sent a delegation comprised of faculty members, staff, and 12-16 students to the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). The experience results in several for-credit independent study opportunities for the participants, and allows fellows to share their experiences with the UConn community at the OS’ annual Climate Change Café.
• Assistant Engineering Professor Kristina Wagstrom, a GCAN member, has enhanced her course content by installing local air monitoring stations around campus. These installations were funded in part by UConn's Campus Sustainability Fund as a result of GCAN-based collaboration.
https://cace.lab.uconn.edu/


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

Sustainability, climate change and related issues of the environment, public health and social justice are all important components of UConn's Academic Plan, providing institutional support and resource allocation that is targeted towards the development of academic initiatives related to sustainability.

The Provost’s Office General Education Course Enhancement Grant Competition provides faculty with a monetary incentive continue enhancing UConn’s General Education curriculum through the creation of a new course, or the innovative revision to a current course. Winning proposals are awarded between $1,000 - $7,500 to be applied to buyout of semester salary, summer salary, course-related expenses, or to a faculty member’s ledger 2 research account. In February 2018, the University Senate approved an Environmental Literacy General Education Requirement, which requires students to take at least one sustainability related course during their education at UConn. Having this requirement will incentivize professors to add sustainability components to their principle coursework, and to offer more sustainability related courses in general. Additionally, UConn offers a variety of niche courses, allowing students the opportunity to tailor their degree program to their specific interests. But because they are so narrow in focus, many of these courses are affected by low enrollment. The Environmental Literacy General Education Requirement provides incentive for faculty participation – by registering their courses for the program, faculty are likely to increase enrollment in their course. This ensures that the course will be able to proceed, and that students maintain the ability to take such niche courses. http://dailycampus.com/stories/2018/2/6/uconn-senate-passes-environmental-general-education-requirement

The Environmental Literacy Workgroup and GCAN, as well as spin-off task forces and programs, like UConn@COP, and even subsequent Centers and Institutes, incentivize interdisciplinary faculty involvement by providing a platform for sponsored and applied research and for experiential learning, through numerous community-based programs and activities (see above).


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