Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Jeff Spoelstra
Submission Date July 22, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Western Michigan University
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Jeff Spoelstra
Sustainability Coordinator
Office for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Curriculum

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

President Dunn signed the Talloires Declaration in 2008 initiating a focus on curriculum and environmental literacy. The Sustainability Across Research & Teaching (StART) Initiative was created to help faculty members secure what they need to foster the infusion and integration of sustainability across research and teaching. The President's Universitywide Sustainability Committee (PUSC) was created and the Office for Sustainability (OfS) administered a campuswide faculty survey early in 2012 to identify challenges and opportunities for broad-scale integration of sustainability. The survey results were used to set the agenda for four faculty luncheons, which engaged 42 faculty members from all seven colleges. Concurrent graduate student research explored needs, opportunities for program development, and support mechanisms. We now have 139 faculty from 32 departments engaged in sustainability research and 15 new sustainability-related or –focused courses were approved this year.

Survey respondents identified a long list of critical needs and barriers and luncheon participants prioritized actionable initiatives including the creation of an institute-like structure, an ongoing peer-to-peer faculty learning group, and a mechanism to regularly track what is happening universitywide in curriculum and research. Following from the need for a peer-to-peer faculty learning group the OfS and Office for Faculty Development created StART II, a sustainability Faculty Learning Community, which is already acting on the infusion and integration of sustainability into individual courses. An annual spring event (speaker, workshop, etc.) was also created to further support faculty sustainability efforts. We also initiated a multi year global review of Sustainability Core Competencies, which resulted in a 3 ½ hour workshop at the last AASHE meeting that was attended by over 110 people. And the Office for Sustainability is creating and improving mechanisms to report regularly on campuswide sustainability activities and champions.

Faculty interests are many and varied. Current faculty learning communities center around pursuing climate neutrality, creating transportation systems that support more liveable communities, expanding local foods infrastructure, addressing social justice and equity, and supporting local living economies. As a result of these discussions and collaborations, faculty are seeing new opportunities for leveraging sustainability commitments in their own coursework, research, and activism. Faculty in all colleges have appreciated “old fashioned” face-to-face interactions with like-minded peers that they might not otherwise meet.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

Building on our momentum, we are excited to report that we are exploring opportunities: 1) for the creation of a graduate certificate program; 2) for an update to the General Education program; 3) with a newly identified sustainability focus area in our Office of the Vice President for Research; and, 4) for more formalized support from the WMU Faculty Senate to accelerate sustainability infusion across teaching and research.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research ---
Campus Engagement ---
Public Engagement ---
Air & Climate ---
Buildings ---
Dining Services ---
Energy ---
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water ---
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available:
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