Faculty workshop on sustainability generates new coursework ideas

Author: Ginna Anderson

Jessica Hellmann opens first day of Sustainability Across the Curriculum faculty workshop

Notre Dame faculty were both teachers and learners in the recent “Sustainability Across the Curriculum” Workshop organized by Rachel Novick, Director of the Sustainability Minor, and colleagues with the Campus Coalition on Research and Education for Sustainability (CREST). More than 20 faculty and graduate students from over a dozen disciplines and institutes joined in panel discussions, interactive sessions with local sustainability experts, and area field trips over the course of the two-day workshop held in the Greenhouse, a state-of-the-art classroom located in Leighton Hall at Innovation Park.

Jessica Hellmann, associate professor in Biological Sciences, led off the first day with a talk that introduced basic principles of sustainability from a planetary perspective. More talks and group discussions followed incorporating ideas from economics and the humanities, as well as leadership and community engagement programs that embrace sustainability concepts. Real world examples of sustainability in practice included a visit to the ND power plant, a campus tour focused on opportunities to utilize the campus as an outdoor classroom, as well as a field trip to the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility at St. Patrick’s Park and an environmental history tour of Potato Creek State Park.

Sustainability Across the Curriculum faculty workshop visits ND-LEEF

“What made the workshop so successful was the diversity of perspectives that the participating faculty brought to the discussions,” said Novick. “It’s so rare to have scholars of English Literature, Political Science, Civil Engineering, Biology, Romance Languages, and History learning from each other about a topic of common interest and concern. The great thing about sustainability is that every discipline has something important to contribute to how we approach the complex global challenges we face as a society.”

A follow-up breakfast in August will bring together workshop participants once more to share and receive feedback on new and revised coursework syllabi.

The workshop was sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Engineering, the Minor in Sustainability, the Center for Sustainable Energy, the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, & Values, the Environmental Change Initiative, and the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning.

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Originally published by Ginna Anderson at on June 12, 2015.