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Incorporating sustainability content and pedagogy through faculty development

Carol A. Hurney (Department of Biology, Center for Faculty Innovation, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA)
Carole Nash (Department of Integrated Science and Technology, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA)
Christie-Joy B. Hartman (Department of Integrated Science and Technology, Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA)
Edward J. Brantmeier (Department of Learning Technologies and Leadership Education, Center for Faculty Innovation, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 5 September 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Key elements of a curriculum are presented for a faculty development program that integrated sustainability content with effective course design methodology across a variety of disciplines. The study aims to present self-reported impacts for a small number of faculty participants and their courses.

Design/methodology/approach

A yearlong faculty development program to introduce content and effective course design for teaching about sustainability was created through a content-driven, backward design approach. Faculty participants from two cohorts were surveyed electronically to evaluate their perceptions of the impact of the program on their courses and professional development either one or two years after completing the program.

Findings

The theoretical model, curriculum and assignments for the sustainability-enhanced program are presented and discussed. Faculty participant responses to a survey (n = 14) following completion of the program indicated that the process changed pedagogical approaches, created a sense of community and raised awareness of campus resources. Faculty perceived that sustainability content enhanced their course redesign by providing “real-world” relevance, awareness and engagement. More than half of the respondents reported using tools they learned in the program to redesign elements of other courses. Three respondents indicated that integrating sustainability content into their courses had little to no benefit.

Research limitations/implications

The study did not explore the impact of the program on faculty and student learning.

Practical implications

The tools presented are practice-ready.

Originality/value

This study can inform the design and evaluation of other sustainability-related faculty development programs.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge JMU faculty members Maria Papadakis, Professor, Department of Integrated Science and Technology; Jennifer Coffman, Associate Professor, Department of Integrated Science and Technology; and Karen Santos, former Executive Director of the Center for Faculty Innovation, for their significant leadership contributions to the initial creation of the faculty development program discussed. The authors thank Linda C. Halpern, Vice Provost, for being a champion of environmental stewardship at JMU and being the first to support JMU faculty participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Across the Curriculum Leadership Workshop. We would also like to express our appreciation to all those who contributed to the activities discussed in this article including the faculty, staff, and mentors who contributed time and passion to the faculty development program, those faculty participants who responded the survey, and Paul Mabrey III, Lecturer, School of Communications Studies, who provided the alignment grid example.

Citation

Hurney, C.A., Nash, C., Hartman, C.-J.B. and Brantmeier, E.J. (2016), "Incorporating sustainability content and pedagogy through faculty development", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 582-600. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-12-2014-0180

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited