Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.36
Liaison Marianella Franklin
Submission Date Jan. 10, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Marianella Franklin
Director of Sustainability
The Office For Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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? :

A brief description of the incentive program(s):

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) works in partnership with the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to host an intensive two-day faculty development program entitled the International Center for Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ICSAC) Conference. Growing out of our university’s successful Project Sin Fronteras, the program has a common goal that brings together faculty from all fields, allowing for an exchange of ideas nurturing an enriching collaborative atmosphere. This interdisciplinary exercise helps faculty to explore the shifts in pedagogy needed to incorporate sustainability concepts, problems, or solutions into new or existing courses. Drawn from experienced faculty and professionals on issues of sustainability, environment, and curriculum, these instructional materials, activities, and presentations will support the education for sustainable development in higher education.

Each year, over 30 UTRGV faculty attend, resulting in the development of many new courses. This facilitates the development of degree programs, some of which are interdisciplinary by design as per ICSAC’s intention.
Since Fall 2018, ICSAC alumni Dr. Christopher Gabler, assistant professor in the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences (SEEMS), has been serving as program coordinator for the undergraduate major in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. This interdisciplinary major has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), as well as by The UT System and The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Gabler said a core goal of the major is for students to learn and network outside of their own discipline, and to help each other discuss and problem solve critical issues pertaining to agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley. “This program is very interdisciplinary,” Gabler said. “Many of the courses in the degree plan already exist. We are just reworking them to fit into the major.” The major is set to offer four tracks, including Agriculture and Ecology; Food and Health; Food and Society; Business and Policy. There also will be a hybrid track option for an even more tailored skillset and employment prospects, Gabler said. As a cross-campus, cross-disciplinary major, the courses will be delivered from four colleges – College of Sciences, College of Health Affairs, College of Liberal Arts and the Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship.

More sustainability programs are being developed at UTRGV as a result of ICSAC faculty having the support of top administration; Since Fall 2018, the Division of Research, Graduate Studies, and New Program Development organized a “New Program Development team” that continuously solicits, captures, and receives new program ideas/proposals from the campus community including faculty, staff, students, chairs, directors, deans, VPs, EVPs, Deputy President, and the President and coordinates reviews of all new program ideas/proposals.
This team has worked with proposals that aimed to integrate sustainability into new and existing degree programs and certificates, such as the online graduate certificate in International Sustainability Management, under the Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship.
Dr. Linda Matthews, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship, attended ICSAC in Spring 2019, and several faculty members attended in years prior. Thus, the discussion to integrate sustainability into the college was well-received and soon proposals were on their way to the NPD team.
The online graduate certificate in international sustainability management program consists of four graduate business classes totaling 12 credit hours, available online since fall 2019. The program is designed to help prepare students for careers in an increasingly competitive global market. (Courtesy Photo) https://www.utrgv.edu/newsroom/2019/04/03-new-utrgv-online-graduate-certificate-focuses-on-global-sustainability-management.htm
The UTRGV Office for Sustainability (OFS) offers an Education for Sustainable Development webinar series for faculty at the beginner and intermediate level, and one specific to business. Additionally, the OFS awards the faculty with outstanding work in Sustainability. This program was launched in 2017, and for FY'2020 the awardee went to Dr. Christopher Gabler.
The UTRGV Office for sustainability (OFS), on FY 2020, offered the Sustainability Faculty Development Introductory Webinar Series. From September 19, 2019, to April 20, 2020, 8 sessions gather faculty from the university to spread the sustainability culture among them. At the conclusion the professor received the appropriate award for their participation.

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

The conference is made possible through the generous support of the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies and The Division of Finance & Planning.
35 faculty from UTRGV receive free admission to the ICSAC Conference, and all attendees receive a certificate of recognition for 16 professional development hours, a release from research and teaching activities to work independently and collaboratively for these two days, an instructional design booklet with support tools and frameworks, guidance from past participants and the Office for Sustainability’s knowledgeable staff.
By the end of this Conference, faculty will have either a firm blueprint for a new, exciting course, or a completely redesigned syllabus that's ready to go, and a network of similarly-thinking faculty outside of their academic silos. As ICSAC is international, networking opens a range of collaborative opportunities.
Faculty who attend the webinar series receive a catered lunch every webinar, and a certificate of completion at the end of the series for 8-10 professional development hours. Faculty who attended the webinars are also the first ones invited to register for ICSAC and take advantage of the “free admission for the first 35 UTRGV faculty who register.”

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

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