Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.80
Liaison Gioia Thompson
Submission Date March 2, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Vermont
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Wendy Verrei-Berenback
Assistant Director
Center for Teaching and Learning
"---" 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):

UVM Sustainability Faculty Fellows program (SFF), started in 2007, is a long-standing collaboration of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Sustainability Curriculum Review Committee, the General Education Sustainability Assessment Committee, and Shelburne Farms. In AY 18-19, the program become affiliated with the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network, recognized by the UN as a Regional Center of Expertise on education for sustainability.

Faculty participate in the program for a variety of reasons: to network with like-minded colleagues to form interdisciplinary partnerships, to take advantage of the opportunity to retreat - a time for reflection on the things that matter to them, and to have dedicated time to revise courses so that they meet the institution's requirements to be designated as a course that meets the sustainability learning outcomes. The program spans the academic year - regular gatherings build community and set the foundation for strong collegial relationships for 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.

Evaluation research about the SFF program was conducted. Overall, the evaluation’s findings suggest that UVM’s SFF program expanded faculty understanding of sustainability concepts, encouraged curricular and instructional reform, and made progress toward developing a community of faculty interested in sustainability education. The evaluation research was published in the following article: Natkin, L.W. & Kolbe, T. (in press). Enhancing sustainability curriculum through faculty learning communities. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v17 n4 p540-558 2016

It is important to note that faculty who have participated in the program are now serving in leadership positions in faculty committees that have been charged with developing and assessing the Sustainability General Education curriculum, chairing both the course review and assessment committees.

The General Education requirement in sustainability is a driver for the development of sustainability courses. Under the University’s system of Incentive-Based Budgeting, the primary source of revenue to the academic units comes from tuition revenue as determined by Student Credit Hours taught (SCH). Because all undergraduate students must fulfill the sustainability requirement, the academic units have an incentive to offer sustainability courses, as these are a reliable source of income. Consequently, the academic units encourage their faculty to develop and teach approved (by the Faculty Senate’s Sustainability Curriculum and Review Committee) Sustainability courses as part of their regular workload.

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

There are concrete benefits to being a Sustainability Fellow. First and foremost, fellows have the space and a supportive community to work on a year-long project that furthers their vision for sustainability in higher education. Workshop luncheons and institutes nurture the mind, body, and spirit. Fellows become members of a supportive community that provides them with opportunities to expand their professional and personal networks, including interdisciplinary research and teaching.

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

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