|Submission Date||March 19, 2014|
University of Vermont
ER-14: Incentives for Developing Sustainability Courses
Does the institution have a program that meets the criteria outlined above?:
A brief description of the program(s):
The UVM Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program seeks to develop a multidisciplinary faculty learning community engaged in a yearlong exploration of sustainability, the scholarship of teaching, learning, collaboration, and community building. The program goals are as follows:
- Create a community of faculty who are committed to integrating interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability into the UVM curriculum.
- Enhance the understanding of sustainability concepts among faculty and students, particularly those not trained in environmental fields.
- Explore teaching and course design strategies that will engage
students in sustainability from an interdisciplinary approach.
The UVM Sustainability Faculty Fellows (SFF) Program is rooted in the Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) model. FLCs are small, multidisciplinary groups of faculty who engage in a yearlong scholarly pursuit of teaching, learning, and community building within a theme, in this case, sustainability. This model increases faculty interest in teaching by providing institutional support for the adoption of new teaching methods. The social and emotional support needed to change teaching behaviors is stimulated through a collegial environment of people who have deliberately chosen to participate. The vision is to create communities of faculty members who continue to collaborate and practice what they’ve learned through their participation in the program.
The UVM SFF curricular approach includes both education about sustainability
and education for sustainability. This approach not only explores core conceptual knowledge, but also examines pedagogical strategies necessary to teach students how to live sustainably in the world. It encourages faculty to move beyond the transmission of information to the development of learning environments that actively engage students in critical reflection, analysis, and application of knowledge. The program addresses four major topics:
- Definitions of sustainability
- Systems thinking core concepts
- Education for sustainability: course design and teaching strategies
- Interdisciplinary thinking and teaching
Additionally, we encourage fellows to consider high-impact practices as identified in the 2008 Association of American Colleges and Universities report High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter by George D. Kuh. Particularly germane are practices such as collaborative assignments/ projects, experiential and service learning, and writing intensive courses.
A brief description of the incentives that faculty members who participate in the program(s) receive:
Fellows attend four lunches throughout the year (dialogue), participate in the cornerstone two January Institute (training), and receive $400 each in professional development funds to support course design.
Fellows attend lunches early in the semester to help them get acquainted. These gatherings build community and set the foundation for strong collegial relationships during the cornerstone event, the two-day January Institute. Day one of the January Institute is held at Shelburne Farms with day two held on the UVM campus. The choice and timing of these locations is intentional. The quiet winter beauty of Shelburne Farms encourages personal reflection and connection to place, while day two on the UVM campus brings the fellows back to an academic environment. At Shelburne Farms, fellows explore the grounds, think through multiple perspectives and definitions of sustainability, apply systems thinking concepts, and consider the social justice implications of living in a sustainable world. They have time to engage in dialogue with peers and privately write in journals on the critical issues of sustainability.
Back at UVM participants focus on the working academic landscape. Fellows tackle course design to integrate sustainability concepts. They consider interdisciplinary collaborations and infuse information literacy skills when possible. Faculty and staff from curriculum and instruction programs are available to consult with the fellows. These include Writing in the Disciplines, Community-University Partnerships and Service Learning (CUPS), Library Instruction, and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). By the end of the day, fellows are well on their way to developing a plan of action for course implementation. After the institute, conversations continue at two spring luncheons, held to provide support and report on final course designs.
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.