|Submission Date||July 22, 2014|
Western Michigan University
AC-7: Incentives for Developing Courses
Office for Sustainability
Does the institution have an ongoing incentives program or programs that meet the criteria for this credit?:
A brief description of the program(s), including positive outcomes during the previous three years:
WMU's Office for Sustainability conducted a survey of faculty, in January 2012, to help identify and prioritize the types of initiatives and policy changes faculty believe are important for facilitating the infusion and integration of sustainability into research and teaching. The result of this survey was the creation of the Sustainability Across Research and Teaching (StART) Initiative, a ground-up, faculty-driven effort in the form of a new University-wide learning community. The intent of the learning community was to build understanding, develop skills, and promote conditions to improve quality of life for all through sustainability teaching and research.
After a very successful series of four StART-I luncheons with faculty in 2012, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Faculty Development, and the Office for Sustainability launched StART-II in early 2013. The StART-II Initiative offered opportunities for a cross-disciplinary group of participants to study pedagogical topics of shared interest in an in-depth, ongoing, scholarly, and systematic manner. StART-II participants met once every two weeks for two hours, delved into existing research on their common area of inquiry, then reviewed examples of sustainability infusion as a working group.
The StART Initiative luncheon series built new relationships in an expanding group of faculty dedicated to the infusion of sustainability and climate change-related issues across all colleges. While we could not identify new courses or content that directly resulted from the Faculty Learning Community/StART-II effort, several new course requests referenced the StART efforts as foundational to course updates in areas from behavior, to business, and to food systems administration.
During this same time period, the Office for Sustainability established an annual university-wide Sustainability Event Series. The annual Spring event focuses on the infusion of sustainability across the curriculum. Dr. Mitchell Thomashow was the inaugural visiting scholar and keynote. He also participated in a workshop for faculty and administrators.
Finally, though it is not specifically called out as a topic or focus area, the Office of Faculty Development offers Instructional Development Project Grants, which support instructional and curricular development projects at WMU. The maximum level of award is $5,000 each, with up to approximately $50,000 awarded annually. Group, department, and interdisciplinary projects are given priority.
A brief description of the incentives that faculty members who participate in the program(s) receive:
The StART-II community had faculty co-facilitators, knowledgeable in the field of sustainability, and a small operating budget to invest in materials and resources to promote the actions of the community. StART-II participants furthered their individual professional skills, and actively promoted curricular development in the area of sustainability across the curriculum and within their colleges. Participants reviewed foundational policy, university and departmental strategic plans, and other initiatives in sustainability outside of academics and research at WMU. Incentives ($1,000) were offered by Academic Affairs for faculty who submitted revised sustainability courses before October 13, 2013.
The Sustainability Event Series and Instructional Development Grants provide community and financial support for faculty interested in sustainability infusion.
The website URL where information about the incentive program(s) is available: