Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.17
Liaison Emily Vollmer
Submission Date May 16, 2024

STARS v2.2

Virginia Tech
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Emily Vollmer
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of 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):
Destination Areas: this is a program facilitated by the Provost’s office that offers funding and educational resources for faculty teaching in a number of climate related areas. There are several relevant destination areas that faculty can be involved with including: Economical and Sustainable Materials, Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition, Global Systems Science, Policy, and the recently developed Virginia Public Interest Technology Initiative. These programs are designed to encourage transdisciplinary partnership in order to tackle difficult social problems. From these destination areas, new minors and majors are developed and supported to emphasize sustainability in the university’s educational portfolio.

Climate Action Living Laboratory: During the 2022-2023 academic year, the university has developed a preliminary Climate Action Living Laboratory or CALL that provides incentives for sustainability oriented teaching and research. It has already moved forward a number of projects and funded the faculty and graduate student research that will improve experiential learning opportunities in our academic sites and off-campus agricultural research properties.

A brief description of the incentives that academic staff who participate in the program(s) receive:
Faculty members are eligible for course buy-out funds (up to 12.5% of salary per course) to provide them with release time to work collaboratively to develop new courses and curricula associated with destination areas.

The following is a list of some of the courses and curricula developed:
The Global Change Center (GCC) has several programs that incentivize sustainability content in graduate and undergraduate education including travel, course work, internships, visiting speakers, and research. educational offerings. It also sponsors seminars and capstone courses where faculty and students can discuss topics related to sustainability science.
Contact Center Director Dr. Bill Hopkins, hopkinsw@vt.edu.

The Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) offers salary stipends and professional development opportunities to faculty who lead study aboard courses in “global sustainability” to countries such as Morocco, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Croatia, and China. CLiGS also has been revising all of its curriculum to better integrate key sustainability learning outcomes throughout its executive and online course offerings.
Contact Center Director Dr. Michael Mortimer, mmortime@vt.edu.

The Sustainability Institute: The College of Natural Resources and Environment hired a full time administrator of its Sustainability Institute, which incentivizes undergraduates to participate in a free non-credit, extracurricular “sustainability boot camp.” Students participate not just to learn about sustainability, but to for professional job skills and career training.
Contact Dean of the College on Natural Resources and Environment Dr. Paul Winistorfer, pstorfer@vt.edu.

Undergraduate Sustainability Minor: The “Pathway to Sustainability” minor provides students on vehicle to meet Virginia Tech’s general education curriculum requirements. Students select 6 classes from a structured program that includes faculty from various academic disciplines. The university supports this effort with annual funding for course development and delivery as well as faculty professional development.
Contact Program Director Tim Baird, tbaird@vt.edu.
Green Engineering Minor: The Green Engineering Program at Virginia Tech serves as the focal point of the College of Engineering for students considering the environmental impacts of the design, manufacture, and use of engineered products, processes, and systems across all engineering disciplines.
Contact Program Director Dr. Sean McGinnis smcginn@vt.edu.

Undergraduate Study Abroad: Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs organizes the “The Deans' Semester on Global Challenges” that focuses on food, water, energy, and related global sustainability challenges. The university is incenting faculty participating with funding for salary and professional development and is offering partial scholarships to undergraduates to participate in the semester-long program that will visit Croatia, Switzerland, and Senegal.
Contact Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs, Dr. Guru Ghosh, gghosh@vt.edu.

Climate Action Living Laboratory (CALL): The CALL offers funding for student- and faculty-led research and educational projects and is currently operating several pilot programs to demonstrate this. The CALL has funded a Ph.D. student to perform and manage energy efficiency audits for buildings that directly ties into his research and educational goals for the university. It will also have the added benefit of reducing the university’s energy demands through careful study. The ultimate goal is to have these audits be a launch pad for experiential learning opportunities across the university, with colleges being able to participate in this work depending on their student’s interests.

Honors College: The Honor’s college at Virginia Tech offers a grant yearly for sustainability oriented research and has awarded it in the summer of 2023 to Rachael Budowle to assist the Climate Action Fellow in developing the CALL. This will tie into two courses she is teaching in the 2023-2024 academic year where students will get experiential learning opportunities to develop climate action projects for the university’s CALL.

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

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Additional information on the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability can be found at their website: http://cligs.vt.edu/

Update provided by Jack Leff, Climate Action Fellow, leffjr@vt.edu

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.