Members of the new Sustainability Faculty Learning Community (SFLC), a collective of SUNY New Paltz faculty interested in injecting sustainability-related learning experiences into their curricula, held a January Retreat with local alumni, businesspeople, and sustainability practitioners to explore ideas and partnerships that could expand experiential learning opportunities around sustainability for New Paltz students.
“The main goal in establishing the SFLC was to create a formal community of faculty members who want to bring sustainability issues and topics into their classrooms and to develop a related infrastructure around them to help them do so,” said Will Hong, assistant professor of digital media & journalism and an SFLC founding member.
“We found that there was a lot of interest among faculty and staff to bring sustainability to their coursework, but often people weren’t aware of the resources available to help them, nor were they aware that other faculty had similar interests. By creating the faculty fellows program, we’ve been able to introduce like-minded educators from different departments to one another, as well as to potential off-campus partners who might play a key role in developing a robust sustainability curriculum.”
Day one of the January Retreat was facilitated by Debra Rowe, senior fellow in education for sustainability with the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future.
Rowe led an agenda aimed at encouraging faculty members to develop new curricula with sustainable applications. Many workshops emphasized partnership with regional businesses, non-profits and sustainability practitioners, and the program included guests representing organizations in politics, sustainable energy development, environmental advocacy, architecture, green building, and recycling and waste management.
“Dr. Rowe introduced the faculty fellows and visiting community members to many ways to help students become agents of change,” Hong said. “Just having community members talk about the kinds of things they could use help with sparked a good deal of discussion over potential student involvement.”
Some of the potential experiential learning projects that were discussed included:
- collaborations between a Hudson River protection organization and students in engineering and marketing to develop, implement and promote new campaigns;
- business students connecting with a local organization combating hunger and food waste to work on creating distribution models to benefit areas of high need;
- and a mathematics lesson that introduces contemporary applications of differential equations in research on climate, weather and the environment.
The Sustainability Faculty Learning Community is made possible with support from the Office of the Provost, the Office of Campus Sustainability, the Sustainability Committee and Campus Auxiliary Services’ Better Tomorrow Fund. Its January Retreat was organized by Will Hong, Assistant Professor of Business Michael Sheridan, and Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning Rosemary Millham, with support from Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten.