UMBC's 4th annual "Sustainability Across the Disciplines workshop was recently held, geared towards supporting faculty in including interconnections to global systems in teaching, empowering students with the ability to grapple with the environmental justice issues we face.
Workshop Facilitator Dr. Rita Turner authored a text titled "Teaching for EcoJustice" and has been teaching about sustainability for several years. The diverse group of faculty dived into an in depth two day exploration of the ways many topics of discourse intersect with our environment, and how every discipline relates to the underlying ecosystem we all depend on. Here is what faculty had to say:
Why is sustainability important to higher education? Sustainability is something that college students can explore, redefine, apply, and use to make their world a healthy place where they could prosper. As educators, we must do better than simply preparing students to survive in the "real" world. Shouldn't we equip them with tools to thrive, create abundance, fix broken systems, alleviate anxieties about climate change, access to fresh water and other issues that seem too overwhelmingly complex? Sustainability crosses disciplines, invites multiple perspectives and collaboration, but most importantly gives students a chance to persist (despite the complexity) in solving important problems. --Steve McAlpine, INDS
"Sustainability starts at home, right on our own campus. It's an issue where we can unite as a community. What can we do in our own classrooms to get students engaged in this ever-growing global concern? That's where the conversation starts--and it is a conversation that is not bound by border or academic discipline."
"If we can teach students about sustainability in the course of their undergraduate education, we have taken a step towards ensuring the wise stewardship of our world --Patricia Bozic, English
The hallmark of this workshop is that it brings faculty from diverse departments, from chemical engineering and psychology to visual art and media and communication studies, together to discuss ideas and opportunities to integrate sustainability into the undergraduate curriculum, collaborative research projects, and unique service experiences for students.--Lee Blaney, Environmental Engineering
This workshop was a valuable experience. I learned about how to use innovative strategies (i.e., using student competitions, thought provoking documentaries, and real world/global issues that illustrate issues related to sustainability) to help students learn about the importance of sustainability. I also learned through other faculty about potential challenges and strategies for overcoming said challenges associated with incorporating issues of sustainability into courses. ...I am thankful to the organizers of the Sustainability Workshop. It was a great learning experience that provided access to concrete resources I can use to incorporate sustainability into the courses I am teaching. Its a worthwhile experience that I recommend to faculty across rank and discipline. It was inspiring to learn how the presenters--faculty from fields as varied as art and environmental engineering--had successfully incorporated sustainability into their courses for the benefit of both the students and the communities in Baltimore they engaged with. Jasmine Abrams, Psychology