Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.39
Liaison Phil Valko
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

Washington University in St. Louis
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Cassandra Hage
Sustainability Manager
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):

Beyond Boundaries courses are designed to prepare students for a rapidly evolving world characterized by social, political, scientific and economic problems that cannot be solved using knowledge from a single discipline. Team-taught by faculty from different schools across Washington University, Beyond Boundaries courses offer a window into how scholars from different disciplines approach big, critical topics – like our aging population, the nature of creativity, the phenomenon of climate change, the rise of a digital society and the evolving art of medicine. These courses equip students to make a difference in a complicated world, where challenges do not come pre-packaged as the territory of a single discipline. These courses transform the way students think about the world and help them become both more creative problem-solvers and more insightful scholars of life.

Two team-taught courses have been launched as a result of the Beyond Boundaries program:
- To Sustainability and Beyond: People, Planet, Prosperity (P3)
- Environmental Racism and the Health of Everyone
In addition, Earth’s Future: Causes and Consequences of Global Climate Change (TR Kidder, A&S/Anthropology; Brent Williams, Engineering) was initially developed as the result of an interdisciplinary teaching grant, and is now offered as a Beyond Boundaries course.


A core pillar of WashU's most recent strategic plan (developed in 2021-22) is interdisciplinary teaching and research; one of our most prominent strategic initiatives focuses on environment, climate and sustainability.

As an outcome of the 2021 university strategic planning process, a new role, vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives, was created to enhance interdisciplinary research and teaching across the Danforth Campus and to build the collaborations the community needs to ensure the successful implementation of the university’s strategic plan. The university strategic plan elevates signature areas (including sustainability) as opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. As part of carrying out the strategic plan, we anticipate hiring faculty with joint appointments being highly desirable. To that end, the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives will facilitate a careful assessment of barriers to team science and teaching across units and schools.

Opportunities for competitive teaching funds dedicated to environment, climate change, and sustainability are anticipated to be available as early as summer 2022 – funding and logistical supports will be built into a budget related to the plan, and will continue to be available over the next decade and beyond. Details are in development as of March 2022.

As such, the two programs that were paused due to COVID response and strategic planning, are anticipated to re-launch in an updated format.

- Interdisciplinary Teaching Grant Awards (First Year Course): https://source.wustl.edu/2012/10/provost-offering-interdisciplinary-teaching-grants-workshop-for-prospective-applicants-oct-23/

- Bring Your Own Ideas: The Office of the Provost wishes to encourage interdisciplinary faculty dialogue across school and departmental lines to enhance community, enrich faculty research, develop new cross-school courses, and broaden faculty perspectives on topics of teaching and research interest. In the interest of fostering relationships between faculty that may yield future teaching and research collaborations, the provost has funded several rounds of the Cross-School “Bring Your Own Idea” program.
EXAMPLE: Sustainability, Environment, and Public Health: Diapering Practices
Rebecca Chibnall, MD, School of Medicine (Dermatology); Jay Turner, DSc, School of Engineering & Applied Science (Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering)

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

Beyond Boundaries offers significant incentives for collaborating departmental units, including reimbursement for faculty time plus additional funds that can support other departmental efforts.

Academic staff get corresponding course relief and the opportunity to team-teach a class with a colleague in another field.

For the BYOI program, the Provost Office provides grants of up to $1000 for each group of faculty to hold at least four lunch, breakfast or other meetings to discuss an idea of common interest. The funds are used to cover food and beverages (they are not direct awards to the faculty.)

For the interdisciplinary courses team taught by faculty from more than one school, we provide a small amount of funding for first-time summer prep of the new course, instructional assistants (formerly called TAs), course materials, and funds to support a course release for the faculty members (these funds are paid to the schools, not to the faculty).

The intention is for the faculty to receive a course release to teach the interdisciplinary course, but that is not always possible especially for faculty who also have administrative duties. This varies school to school and faculty member to faculty member .

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

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