Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative

Wesleyan's Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) calls for an increase in the number of courses that incorporate sustainability as a learning objective.  We are moving toward that goal with several different initiatives:

  • Sustainability Across the Curriculum workshop/seminar series (2016, 2018)
  • Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative request for proposals to integrate sustainability into the curriculum (2019, 2020)
  • Sustainability & Environmental Justice course cluster (launched February 2019)

Learn more about the program through the tabs below.  If you have questions, please email Tony Hatch (Coordinator, Sustainability and Environmental Justice; Assoc. Prof. of Science in Society, African American Studies, Sociology, & Environmental Studies) or Jen Kleindienst (Sustainability Director)

  • Initiative Details

    The initiative is designed to increase faculty awareness of sustainability and environmental justice in their courses across disciplines and facilitate integration of these topics into existing courses to increase student engagement and reinforce learning outcomes.  This across-the-curriculum approach has proved to be an effective way to foster a culture of sustainability at dozens of colleges and universities.  

    For the 2019-20 academic year, the Sustainability & Environmental Justice Initiative will include the following elements.  Note that this program continues to evolve over time based on faculty feedback. 

    Introductory lunch

    Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 12:15-1:15 PM, College of the Environment (284 High Street)

    This informal lunch is designed to connect past and prospective participants of the program to learn about the program and engage in conversation on the intersection of sustainability and environmental justice.  

    Panel discussion

    Thursday, March 26, 2020, 12-1 PM, Usdan 110

    In early spring 2020, past faculty participants Tony Hatch, Danielle Vogel, and Candice Etson will share their experiences integrating environmental justice and sustainability into their curricula 

    Request for proposals

    December 2019 - April 17, 2020

    For the second year, the Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative is eliciting a request for proposals from faculty seeking to integrate sustainability and environmental justice into their courses.  The request for proposals outlines the requirements.  RFPs are due to Tony Hatch and Jen Kleindienst by Friday, April 17, 2020.

    Course integration

    2020-2021 Academic Year

    Faculty participating in the initiatve are expected to teach their amended course within one academic year of taking part in the program.  

  • 2020 Request for Proposals

    With funding support from the College of the Environment, Wesleyan’s Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative seeks to increase the number of Wesleyan courses that integrate sustainability and/or environmental justice into the curriculum to enhance students' exposure and deepen faculty research in this critical area. This across-the-curriculum approach has proven to be an effective way to foster a culture of sustainability at dozens of colleges and universities. 

    In 2019, through the first iteration of this initiative, we awarded $500-1000 stipends to 5 Wesleyan faculty to modify existing courses to incorporate themes related to sustainability and/or environmental justice. The RFP for the 2020 program is open through April 17, 2020.

  • Faculty Cohort

    The following faculty have completed the Sustainability & Environmental Justice Pedagogical Initiative (2019-present) or Sustainability Across the Curriculum Program (2016-2018) and are part of a growing faculty cohort interested in expanding sustainability integration into courses. 

    Tess Bird (2019)
    Peggy Carey Best (2016)
    Kim Diver (2016)
    Paul Erickson (2018)
    Candice Etson (2018)
    Kate Galloway (2018)
    Tony Hatch (2016, leading 2019-20 program)
    Bill Johnston (2016)
    Jan Naegele (2016)
    Suzanne OConnell (2016, led 2016-17 and 2017-2018 programs)
    Helen Poulos (2019)
    Joyce Powzyk (2019)
    Justine Quijada (2016)
    Mary-Jane Rubenstein (2019)
    Elise Springer (2016)
    Ying Jia Tan (2018)
    Danielle Vogel (2019)

  • Amended Courses

    The following courses have been amended through the Sustainability Across the Curriculum Program/Sustainability & Environmental Justice Initiative:

    • Anthropocene as Modern Grand Narrative (Tan)
    • Conservation Biology (Powzyk)
    • Cultural Studies of Health (Hatch)
    • Developmental Neurobiology (Naegele)
    • Ecopoetics (Vogel)
    • Environmental Philosophy (Springer)
    • Extreme Landscapes of the Anthropocene (Bird)
    • History of Ecology (Erickson)
    • Indigenous Religions? Deconstructing the 'Lump' (Quijada)
    • Introduction to Environmental Science & Sustainability (OConnell)
    • Introduction to Environmental Studies (Poulos)
    • Introduction to (Geo)Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization (Diver)
    • Neuroplasticity: How Experience Changes the Brain (Naegele)
    • Pantheologies- Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, World (Rubenstein)
    • The Making of Modern Japan, 1500 to the Present (Johnston)
    • Thermal and Statistical Physics (Etson)
    • Time, Masks, Mirrors: Aging in America (Carey Best)
    • World Music (Galloway)
  • Sustainability Criteria

    Wesleyan Sustainability Course Criteria

    Developed October 2016 and revised in January 2018 by Sustainability Across the Curriculum Faculty Cohort

    Courses are considered to have a sustainability component when they engage in any of the following explorations:

    1. Explore the relationship between power, social inequities and the development of just and sustainable communities.

    2. Explore how diversity, including biodiversity and/or cultural diversity, contributes to sustainable systems.

    3. Explore dynamics of production and consumption as they relate to environmental health and human well-being and explore strategies for developing sustainable life practices.

    4. Explore how social systems promote, or fail to promote, cultures of sustainability, especially in terms of tolerance, non-violence and peace.

    5. Explore how human well-being depends on ecosystem processes and materials.

    6. Explore the politics and/or economics of sustainable development including its social benefits and environmental costs, and raise critical questions about what development and progress mean for different communities.

    7. Explore how science and technology shape environmental and public health at both the local and global levels.

    8. Explore multiple ways of representing and understanding humans’ relationships to the environment, and how taken-for-granted metaphors and stories can promote or damage environmental and public health.

    These potential explorations are not exhaustive of all of the possible courses that might contain a sustainability component.

    Courses that Include Sustainability Content

    STARS assessment tool: “Courses that are primarily focused on a topic other than sustainability, but incorporate a unit or module on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, include one or more sustainability-focused activities, or integrate sustainability issues throughout the term.”

    Courses that are Sustainability Focused

    STARS assessment tool: “Courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability and/or on understanding or solving one or more major sustainability challenge.”

    Courses are considered to be sustainability-focused when they focus significantly on any of the eight explorations above.

  • Program History

    During the 2016-17 school year, Wesleyan organized the first Sustainability Across the Curriculum program through the financial assistance of the Wesleyan Green Fund. A full-day workshop for 11 faculty was held in October 2016, followed by a four-session seminar with the same cohort in November 2016.  In Spring 2017, 5 faculty taught their newly amended courses; 1 faculty will teach in Fall 2017, and 2 in Fall 2018.  

    In 2017-18, the Sustainability Office and Center for Pedagogical Innovation, with support from the College of the Environment, Wesleyan Green Fund, and Academic Affairs, held a second year of Sustainability Across the Curriculum.  A workshop took place on January 23, 2018 and was again followed by a seminar series in Spring 2018.  Faculty participating in the program integrated sustainability into courses in 2018-19.

    A third year of the program in 2018-19 saw a greater focus on environmental justice as the program was renamed the Sustainability & Environmental Justice Initiative.  With financial support from the College of the Environment, a request for course integration proposals yielded 5 faculty participants, who met throughout Spring 2019.  These faculty are teaching their courses in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

  • What's in it for faculty?

    Program benefits include

    • Collaborating on pedagogy with other faculty
    • Developing and expanding your own pedagogical tools
    • Creating a faculty community focused on sustainability
    • Grants available for course development