Shi Center honored for infusing sustainability into curriculum
A leader in sustainability in the Southeast, the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability recently garnered another honor when it was selected as one of 13 national Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
According to AASHE, who announced the names of the Centers in mid-December, the goal of the program is “to accelerate the infusion of sustainability content into curriculum by increasing the availability and accessibility of faculty development opportunities related to sustainability.”
The idea for this pilot program originated with feedback AASHE received from their members, who said they were looking for opportunities to educate themselves and share information so they could lead the charge on sustainability.
The 13 hubs are distributed across the United States, so attendees have easy access within their region. Workshops, however, are open to all university faculty, regardless of where they live. As part of the pilot, the AASHE hubs will host at least one workshop a year focused on integrating sustainability into a range of courses across the curriculum. Each of the hubs will design their own curricula, with the idea being that each workshop will be different.
The Shi Center intends to broaden its reach by offering its workshops to sustainability staff as well as interested faculty from any discipline. “The unique thing about Furman’s program is that our intended audience includes people in sustainability staff positions as well as faculty at other universities. They can also come participate, share their knowledge and experience, and gain valuable insights,” explains Kelly Grant Purvis, associate director of sustainability programs for the Shi Center.
Traditionally, other institutions have required that workshop participants be tenured professors or set other teaching requirements. “Our goal,” Purvis says, “is to develop faculty as well as staff—folks like me, whose positions are directly related to sustainability, but who don’t necessarily teach classes. There are a lot of people who are trying to integrate sustainability across their campuses, as well as across their curricula, who haven’t had the opportunity to access training that would help them do this.”
Purvis, who will lead Furman’s workshops in tandem with the Shi Center’s Executive Director Weston Dripps, hopes to provide training and dialogue that not only helps attendees integrate sustainability concepts into their curricula, but also incorporate sustainability elements of their campuses into their courses. That encompasses everything from operational sustainability to residential life sustainability, and using the campus as a place to learn about sustainability through the various opportunities that are already in place. For Furman, examples of such opportunities include utilizing our Living Learning Laboratories like the lake restoration work, the Furman Farm, and the Place of Peace, and annual events like the Arbor Day and Earth Week celebrations as educational fodder.
The Shi Center’s two-and-a-half-day workshop, which will be capped at 15 participants who will be subject to an application process, is slated to take place in August. It will be interactive, incorporating campus and community field trips and small-group breakout sessions. “We’ll take participants out to tour our campus Living Learning Laboratories and meet some of our community sustainability partners and student fellows who are working with those organizations,” Purvis notes. The goal is for participants to go back to their campuses with sustainability action items and program ideas that they could implement.
“Being selected to be part of this pilot program is a real honor and puts Furman University on a national stage,” states Purvis. “It’s a validation of our significant efforts in the sustainability arena.”