Wesleyan has taken many steps to make sustainability a part of its curriculum through the creation of the College of the Environment and increasing numbers of sustainability course offerings, including through the Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative and Sustainability & Environmental Justice course cluster. Integrating sustainability into the curriculum and into the operations of academic departments help to make sustainability knowledge and skills universal for Wesleyan students and faculty.

The initiatives below show our strategies derived from our 2016-2021 Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) and what we have already accomplished. See pages 23-26 in the SAP for more details.


Joe Knee, SAGES Academic Affairs Representative
(860) 685-2727

What We're Working On

  • Curriculum and Research
    1. Courses adopt projects that use the campus or community as a living laboratory - ongoing
    2. Courses adopt projects that engage students in regional, national, or global sustainability work - ongoing
    3. Raise money to hire visiting faculty, post-doctoral scholars, and new endowed, full- time, tenure-track sustainability- focused faculty - not started
    4. Hire one full-time faculty member with an environmental engineering and design focus - not started
    5. Create faculty- student partnerships to research underrepresented identities and the environment - no longer pursuing
    6. Develop new sustainability courses within each division, including in departments not currently offering these courses - ongoing
  • Academic Operations
    1. Adapt the Green Office Certification for academic offices and pilot in one location - in progress
    2. Expand the Green Office Certification program to at least five academic departments - in progress
    3. Get buy-in from faculty to manage class documents electronically - no longer pursuing

What We've Done

  • Curriculum and Research
    1. In 1999, Wesleyan launched the Environmental Studies certificate.  In the early 2000s, a new Environmental Studies linked major was created.  The College of the Environment (COE) launched in 2009 to prepare  students to interpret scientific and environmental  information, engage both scholars and the lay public in discourse about environmental issues, understand connections between environmental and social or political issues, and have both practical and theoretical experience in environmental issues.
    2. The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (E&ES) offers BA and MA programs that cover many aspects of the natural world, on Earth and on other planets. Course topics range from active volcanoes to climate change to eco-conservation. The E&ES major is designed to prepare students for graduate school as well as provide a basis for a variety of careers in the private or public sectors.  
    3. In the 2012-2013 school year, 10% of students graduated from Environmental Studies or Earth and Environmental Sciences programs.
    4. From 2010-2013, sustainability-focused or -related courses comprised over 12 percent of total courses offered, with 35% of campus departments offering at least 1 sustainability course.  
    5. Immersive courses are routinely offered.  Past courses have studied on mountaintop removal perspectives, tropical ecology, and mining methane from a closed local landfill.
    6. In 2012, the History Department restructured its major around modules, rather than concentrations.  Several of the modules have distinct environmental implications, including “The City,” “Contemporary History, Economy and Society,” “Geographies: Space and Mapping,” “History and Theory,” “Migration,”  Science/Technology/Medicine,” and “Environment and Food.”
    7. In 2016-17 and 2017-18, the Sustainability Across the Curriculum workshop and seminar series was run to promote sustainability integration into existing courses. This program became the Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative in 2018-19.  As of October 2019, 18 courses had been amended.
    8. A formal description of explorations of sustainability in the curriculum was developed in 2016.  It continues to be refined and used to identify courses that meet the definition.
    9. In 2019, a sustainability & environmental justice course cluster launched. 
  • Other Accomplishments
    1. Approximately 50 Wesleyan faculty members are engaged in sustainability research, accounting in 2012-13 for 58% of campus departments. 
    2. Each year, College of the Environment Fellows and faculty associated with the COE advance knowledge in sustainability areas.
    3. COE Colloquium dinners provide opportunities for sustainability-focused students and faculty to interact informally and learn about one another’s research.
    4. The College of the Environment offers annual paid internships for students to do research under the guidance of a faculty mentor during the summer or fall on projects directly concerned with Environmental Studies.
    5. Several faculty members serve as formal or informal advisors for sustainability-related student groups, including Long Lane Farm.

Joe Knee, SAGES Academic Affairs Representative
(860) 685-2727