Thinking about Sustainability?

September 14, 2018 / By: The Office of Sustainability Initiatives

Thinking about Sustainability? Wherever you are on your sustainability journey, we’ve got resources and opportunities for you in the Office of Sustainability Initiatives!

Want to learn more about how sustainability relates to your courses?

Please join our Faculty Learning Community “Toward and Beyond Sustainability.” Its objectives are to discuss: sustainability broadly defined, the causes and often inequitable consequences of environmental problems, the intersection between academic disciplines and sustainability, factors such as communication that lead people to engage in sustainable behavior, and the resources that empower and maintain long-term engagement with sustainability work.

Each Spring we hold a one-day workshop to examine the connections of courses across diverse academic disciplines with sustainability. We address questions like "What is sustainability?" and "What unique contributions and perspectives do different disciplines offer to sustainability?"  We present strategies, examples, and project ideas to enrich students’ learning of the central concepts and skills from your courses through sustainability themes, and a panel of faculty share their experiences. Learn more about what resources are available to you and meet other faculty interested in sustainability!

Looking for sustainability projects?

Consider including a Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) project in your course. SCP develops multi-year partnerships with cities and government entities to integrate their sustainability projects into existing St. Thomas courses across disciplines.

Since SCP's launch in Spring 2016, over 1,000 students from more than 75 courses across 23 disciplines have participated in 80 municipal sustainability projects. Current partners include the City of Big Lake, Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit, PLACE, and the University of St. Thomas itself. That’s right, through SCP, St. Thomas courses are engaging in systemic change right here on campus too!

SCP is launching a new initiative to link courses with sustainability public art endeavors. The SCP Sustainability and Art Initiative engages students in applied, arts-based projects with SCP partners and local artists to advance partners' sustainability goals.

Please contact Dr. Maria Dahmus to learn more about these opportunities.

Need time to implement your ideas?

Environmental Stewardship Curriculum Grants are available to support faculty efforts to integrate sustainability into courses. All part- and full-time faculty across the university are eligible to apply. Proposals are for courses to be taught the next academic year. A call for proposals is announced each Spring to fund summer work.

Already worked sustainability into your course? 

Consider obtaining a SUST designation. The SUST attribute designates courses across disciplines that integrate a significant sustainability component (economic, social, and/or ecological dimensions of interconnections between human and environmental well-being). Over 100 courses have been tagged with the SUST designation and 82% of academic departments at St. Thomas offer at least one SUST course.

The SUST designation allows students and academic advisors to find sustainability-related courses that fulfill general education requirements, major and minor course requirements, and electives.  

SUST courses now form the basis for the new Sustainability Minor, housed in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Figured out an innovative way to teach your students about sustainability?

Apply for our annual Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award. This award recognizes faculty for innovation and excellence in integrating sustainability into a single course, both through innovation in sustainability content and demonstrated student learning and engagement with sustainability. Faculty from Operations Management to English have earned this recognition for their work. Calls for nominations are announced in March each year.

Doing sustainability-related research? 

We’d be happy to add your name and work to the SUST Faculty Research inventory! Over 50 faculty representing 22 different departments conduct research relevant to sustainability.