Faculty work to develop curriculum for sustainability-focused course

Penn State’s Center for Sustainability held a faculty workshop to develop a consistent curriculum for a new course, Foundations of Leadership in Sustainability (Sustainability 200), on Wednesday, May 23. Faculty and staff from seven Penn State campuses were represented at the workshop: Abington, Beaver, Erie, Lehigh Valley, Shenango, University Park and York.

“We were pleased to have interest from so many areas of the University. There were people from several additional campuses who wished to attend but could not make it this time,” remarked Susannah Barsom, associate director of the Center for Sustainability. “In the future, we will be offering regional workshops to accommodate even more faculty members.”

Participants met to discuss the future direction of Sustainability 200 and its central role in the minor in Sustainability Leadership. Additionally, participants considered issues of leadership, sustainability and curricular aspects of the minor.

During the workshop, faculty and staff deliberated on the competencies that must be addressed in the sustainability curriculum. For example, participants agreed that students taking the course should achieve some proficiency in systems thinking, problem-solving methods, and sustainability mathematics.

Faculty and staff shared potential readings to include in the curriculum, as well as possible in- and out-of-class assignments and activities. Workshop participants discussed how existing sustainability-related courses offered at Penn State can fit into the minor, and how other courses can be modified to view their subject matter through the lens of sustainability. Representatives from Penn State’s Educational Technology Services office were on hand to explain new ways that the group could continue to discuss their course strategies and other issues related to sustainability pedagogy.

“The interest in sustainability continues to grow among our students and employers,” said David Riley, executive director of the Center for Sustainability. “We are delighted to support the efforts of faculty members across Penn State’s colleges and campuses who are taking steps to infuse sustainability concepts into new and existing courses.”