Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award

The Curricular Innovation in Sustainability 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 concepts.  Calls for nominations are announced in March each year.  An awards committee comprised of faculty across disciplines selects the award recipient. Click here to view nomination guidelines and instructions. 

‌‌2019 Award Recipient: Olga Herrera

Olga Herrera, Associate Professor of English, has earned the 2019 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for her work integrating a Sustainable Communities Partnership Arts (SCP Arts) project with the Metropolitan Council into her course, City Lights: Urban Experience (ENGL 203).  The Metropolitan Council’s Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) identifies and addresses potential vulnerabilities in regional systems from increased frequency and severity of climatic events. To engage policymakers with these resources, the Metropolitan Council seeks to convey the human experience of climate vulnerability the CVA has documented. Students connected climate vulnerability data with human experience through story and art. Student teams conducted subject interviews and integrated information from the CVA to research the human experience of climate vulnerability in areas of St. Paul and Minneapolis. SCP Artist-in-Residence Sarah Nelson worked with students to translate their research narratives into the visual arts. For Metropolitan Council partner and Senior Planner Eric Wojchik, the project "was instrumental in breathing life into our climate change tools. Students helped us tell the stories of residents in our region, make material and opportunities accessible to more people, and, most importantly, listen to the perspectives of others.”

‌‌2018 Award Recipients:  Sheneeta White and Tim Meyer


Sheneeta White, Operations and Supply Chain Management, and Tim Meyer, Computer and Information Sciences, have earned the 2018 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for their work integrating a collaborative Sustainable Communities Partnership project with Metro Transit into their courses, Service Operations Management (OPMT 360) and Systems Analysis and Design II (CISC 321). The overarching goal for the students was to develop a non-revenue fleet vehicle tracking system that meets the needs for record management while minimizing the work and resources needed for implementation. Students in OPMT 360 developed standard operating procedures for tracking fleet vehicles to meet audit requirements, and CISC 321 students then worked to convert the procedures into an app and conduct usability testing. For Metro Transit partner Kelly Morrell, Commuter Programs Specialist, the “research and work put in by the students on this project is of immense value to Metro Transit. As a public entity, we have limited resources and often find it difficult to invest heavily in improvements that are not customer-facing. The students and faculty have helped us bridge that resource gap in an innovative way." Read more.

2017 Award Recipients:  Monica Hartmann and Matthew Kim

Monica Hartmann and  Matthew Kim, Department of Economics, earned the 2017 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for developing and integrating a collaborative project with the OSI’s Sustainable Communities Partnership and the City of Delano into Economics of the Public Sector (ECON337) and Managerial Decision Making (ECON401). This semester-long project, Analyzing Energy Efficiency Upgrades of Public Infrastructure in Delano, Minnesota, challenged students to apply economic theory to real-world issues to advance Delano’s sustainability goals. Students presented their recommendations for efficiency upgrades, with net savings of $854,000 over the next ten years, to Delano's City Council. The selection committee stated that Kim and Hartmann’s work is particularly laudable because of the depth of work, level of integration into the curriculum, coordination of student work across two courses, and the major deliverables to the city. Watch a film about their project here.  Read more about the project here.

‌‌2016 Award Recipient: Todd Lawrence

Todd Lawrence, Department of English, is the recipient of the 2016 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for his work developing and implementing sustainability components in his GENG672 Ethnographic Writing course. Todd's class is a graduate course in which students created narratives about the relationships between residents and their urban farming traditions and practices in north Minneapolis. Throughout the semester, students developed their narratives by actively engaging with urban agriculture leaders through interviews and visiting urban agriculture sites. The ethnography project emerged from a collaborative partnership between the OSI’s Sustainable Communities Partnership and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO), a local governmental unit interested in fostering “stewardship of the watershed with actions that promote civic ownership and responsibility.”  Read more about the Urban Agriculture Ethnography project here.

‌‌2015 Award Recipient: Debra Petersen

Debra Petersen is the recipient of the 2015 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for her work developing and implementing Public Speaking (COJO 100) with a sustainable food systems theme. Debra not only has integrated sustainability topics into a course not typically addressing sustainability, but also has tackled it comprehensively, creating a driving theme throughout the course. Her course has had significant reach; it serves a broad spectrum of students (including Business, Health and Human Performance, Computer Science, and History majors) who take it as an allied requirement for their majors. Debra has used this theme in over a dozen of her sections of COJO 100, impacting over 200 students so far. Read more from the Newsroom here.

2014 Award Recipient:  Tim Scully

Tim Scully is the recipient of the 2014 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award. Tim designed Videography (COJO 360) around the theme of sustainability. His students completed three collaborative projects:  1) a documentary about sustainability efforts on the UST campus, A Vision of Sustainability, in collaboration with UST faculty, staff, and students; 2) a public service announcements centered around sustainable practices on campus in collaboration with biology students; and 3) environmentally themed video segments for a Macalester College dance performance in collaboration with UST environmental studies and science courses, the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, and the Pilobolus Dance Company.

2013 Award Recipient: Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt

Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt is the recipient of the 2013 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for her leadership and innovation in collaboratively crafting a new course in the Biology core curriculum, the Biology of Sustainability (BIOL 209).

Dalma's colleagues write that her leadership in course development and ability to engage students in sustainability science has "helped catalyze a thematic shift in Biology toward sustainability." 


Please contact Elise Amel, faculty director of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.