The University of Vermont Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program is a model for successful implementation of sustainability education across disciplinary boundaries. Welcoming its first cohort of faculty fellows in the fall of 2009, the program includes several luncheons throughout the semesters, and a winter retreat. The cohorts include faculty members from across the disciplines at UVM. The faculty fellows program is characterized by an enthusiastic, broadly interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and support for exploring the concept of sustainability and applying it to undergraduate education.
The Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program at the University of Vermont began as a joint endeavor supported by Office of Sustainability, The Environmental Program, The Center for Teaching and Learning, and the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community in partnership with Shelburne Farms. The program comes out of a desire to harness the enormous interest in sustainability, not only in students, but in faculty at UVM. The goal of the program is to create a learning community for faculty across the disciplines to receive support and develop skills to implement sustainability concepts into their courses. Stephanie Kaza and Wendy Verrei-Berenback (Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning) attended AASHE’s “Sustainability Across The Curriculum Leadership Program” in January 2009. Their workshop experienced inspired the creation of the SFF program. The Sustainability Faculty Fellows program is now coordinated through the Center for Teaching and Learning.
The Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program’s goals are aligned with the institutional goal of becoming the nation’s premier environmental university. This collaboration is a unique partnership of University’s academic, operational, teaching, and co-curricular units, modeling how solving complex problems require interdisciplinary perspectives. The three objectives of the program are: 1) Create a community of faculty who are committed to infusing interdisciplinary approaches to environmental sustainability into the UVM curriculum. 2) Enhance the understanding of environmental sustainability concepts among faculty and students, particularly those not trained in environmental fields. 3) Explore teaching and course design strategies that will engage students in environmental sustainability from a multidisciplinary approach.
Five major topics are addressed:
- Definitions of sustainability
- Course design strategies
- Interdisciplinary thinking and teaching
- Student learning and attitudes about sustainability
- UVM’s General Education Sustainability Learning Outcomes
Fellows will be expected to:
- Demonstrate enthusiasm for developing interdisciplinary partnerships in sustainability
- Participate in a two-day training institute, January 14 and 15, 2016
- Attend at least two discussion workshops across the academic year
- Redesign or enhance a course to integrate concepts of environmental sustainability
- Contribute to the growth of sustainability general education at UVM in some way, such as submitting a course for the SU designation
- Evaluate the redesigned course to gauge attitudes and knowledge regarding sustainability