Attending the Association for the Advanced of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) annual conference in Nashville, TN October 5-8, 2013 was energizing. Being surrounded by so many people dedicated to my common interests provided insight into the growing field of sustainability efforts in higher education. Conversations focused on using a campus as a living lab and changing institutions food systems. I enjoyed some BBQ and dancing to country music with new friends I met at the conference.
For me, the most energizing workshop was the pre-conference faculty development for sustainability across the curriculum session. Tom Hudspeth presented UVM’s Sustainability Faculty Fellows program and shared the Teaching Sustainability at UVM report. Spending time with dedicated people from other colleges and universities tackling the challenge of embedding sustainability principles throughout the curriculum was helpful. We explored the importance of educating for sustainability rather than just embedding sustainability in education and having fun social activities for faculty to develop relationships.
Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College, presented a session entitled Organizational Leadership for Sustainability Education. He stressed the importance of teaching students to be proactive with the ability to understand the complexity of systems and be reflective problem solvers. He advocated for killing the silos that exist in higher education and graduating students with excellent written and oral communication skills.
Michelle Zurawski and J. Gabe Estill of Moraine Valley Community College gave a very interesting session entitled Show Me the Learning! Faculty Development and Student Learning of Sustainability. They created a rubric for sustainability learning outcome, tracking students learning those outcomes with Blackboard. There is a resource bank of assignments organized by disciplines. These practices could be applicable to UVM’s sustainability general education outcomes.