SCC’s Faculty Conference — Event Recap

SCC’s inaugural Faculty Conference, with workshops and panels on SCC’s three themes: pedagogy, content & leadership, featured a content-rich agenda, an evening Town Hall session, a Michael Mann keynote, and a full room of creative, committed sustainability faculty as well as sustainability professionals from outside academia.
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Co-hosted by the Penn State Sustainability Institute at the Penn State Philadelphia Center, the SCC Faculty Conference began with a welcoming reception at FARMiCiA restaurant on Sunday evening, June 25 and continued throughout Monday, June 26 and Tuesday, June 27.

On Monday morning Philadelphia’s Deputy Sustainability Director Sarah Wu welcomed the SCC Faculty Conference to Philadelphia.  Tom Richard delivered an inspiring and insightful synthesis of the sustainability space in his capacity as Interim Director of the Penn State Sustainability Institute.

After a packed agenda of presentations throughout the day on Monday, at 5PM the participants shifted to a Drinks/Demos/Book Signing break accompanied by food and drink, including Philadelphia classic cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, and Tastykakes.  The Penn Book Store set up shop among the exhibitors to offer a range of sustainability titles.

Most attendees remained at the venue into the evening for the optional Town Hall session on “Teaching Sustainability in a Polarized Political Climate,” a lively exchange of perspectives which was facilitated by Peter Buckland of Penn State and Matt Polsky of Erasmus University.

Tuesday morning’s highlight was Michael Mann’s excellent keynote which was followed by an extended Q&A session and a book signing.  The balance of the Tuesday agenda allowed for more interaction including discussion in small groups based on shared interests.  The four break-out sessions offered options on sustainability in the context of business, policy, community and change management (see summaries below).

A closing session took stock of the greatest needs and challenges faced by teaching faculty and considered the findings of the SCC Faculty Survey to inform the next round of SCC activities.

SCC Advisory Council members Debbra Johnson. Peter Soyka, Krista Hiser, Becki Hack and Erik Assadourian were among the notables presenting in Philadelphia. They were joined by Penn State’s Michele Halsell, AASHE’s Julian Dautremont Smith, NWEI’s Lacy Cagle and Daniel Lerch of the Post Carbon Institute.  For the full list of presenters see the final agenda.

The full FINAL AGENDA is available here along with posted presentation files and summaries.

The SCC Faculty Conference PHOTO GALLERY is available here.

With the great success of this event, planning has begun for the next SCC Faculty Conference in Spring 2018, location TBA.

The Program Committee is accepting expressions of interest for presentations, panels and workshops at: <admin@curriculumforsustainability.org>.

Inquiries for exhibitors and sponsors, please contact: <ira@curriculumforsustainability.org>.

A sampling of comments from attendees:

An informative and inspiring conference!

You obviously took great care to develop the best possible content — you achieved your goal.

Congrats again on last week’s very successful SCC conference.

I enjoyed the session — thank you, all….

You did a very good thing in pulling together this successful event!

I enjoyed myself tremendously at this week’s Faculty Conference. I learned so much from (and about) the sustainability education community. I look forward to the second annual conference!

Thanks so much for assembling such a great group of people at the conference! I really enjoyed the discussions you sparked.

thank you again for putting together the terrific SCC conference over the past couple of days. I left not only full of ideas, but also with a pretty clear sense of what I don’t know and need to investigate to continue to move forward as a reasonably effective change agent.  It’s rare leaving any conference with such clarity, so that’s a testament to your vision and the success of your execution as the organizers.

Great conference!  I’m grateful for your leadership in pulling this group of sustainability leaders together.  I look forward to contributing in future iterations.

Thank you so much for an enlightening conference. I decided to be quiet and just listen for this year, as I am still new to sustainability. I learned so much and will be bringing back many ideas and resources to our students and faculty.

I wish to thank you for the successful meeting of Sustainability Curriculum Consortium in Philadelphia.  The work and thought you put into organizing the sessions, speakers, and break-out leaders were clearly evident and obviously vital to the success of the event.  Your leadership helped to keep things lively and running smoothly.  I found the two days to be very useful and thought-provoking, and what I’ve learned will be helpful as we continue to build and organize our degree programs in sustainability.

It was a very committed group of educators at the SCC Faculty Conference — was interesting for me to hear about what they are trying to do.  It’s a great thing you are doing with SCC. 

Most Recent SCC Webinar

Case Study Teaching for Sustainability and Environmental Education

May 23, 2017 at 2:00 PM EST

Case-Study-Teaching-for-SustainabilityThese leaders in sustainability education are focusing on case studies and collaborating to describe what they see as the challenges faced in designing cases, building a collection of cases, and engaging faculty and others in the creation and use of these cases.   Their discussions and written commentary about case study teaching are a proxy for broader discussions about the challenges of teaching about complex environmental challenges.

The case study method has long been used as a pedagogical method in fields such as medicine, law, and business, but its use in the fields of sustainability and environmental education is far less established. However, recent efforts by multiple organizations to advance case study teaching and to develop case study teaching resources for sustainability and environmental education suggest a growing recognition of the utility and promise of this approach for these fields. In this webinar, they will discuss efforts by four organizations to develop sustainability and environmental case study resources including: the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)’s Teaching about Socio-Environmental Synthesis with Case Studies short course, the University of Michigan’s Michigan Sustainability Cases initiative, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ Case Study Integration Initiative, and the University of California Press’s new online journal, Case Studies in the Environment. They will discuss challenges and approaches in designing and implementing case studies for teaching, insights gained through each of our efforts, and resources for case study teaching.

Cynthia Wei is the Associate Director of Education at SESYNC. In this role, she works to advance the teaching and learning of socio-environmental synthesis by developing, running, and supporting several SESYNC programs and initiatives. Prior to coming to SESYNC, she worked on several national STEM education programs and initiatives related to biology education, climate change education, evolution education, and the role of community colleges in STEM education, work which built on her experiences as a K-12 science teacher and college-level biology instructor. This work was completed during her time as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Undergraduate Education and a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  At Michigan State University, she earned a dual-degree Ph.D. in zoology and ecology, evolutionary biology, and behavior. She holds a B.A. in biology (neurobiology and behavior) from Cornell University. She is also a section co-editor for the new journal Case Studies in the Environment.

Minna Brown directs the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ Case Study Integration Initiative. In this role, she identifies, develops, and assists with the incorporation of applied case studies into the F&ES curriculum. Working collaboratively with faculty, students, and alumni, Minna builds comprehensive, academically sound, interdisciplinary online case studies covering subjects such as the impacts of palm oil in Indonesia, approaches to urban climate change adaptation, and compromises over water rights in the Klamath River basin. She also provides resources for student case study development and curates a collection of external case studies for FES use. Minna holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from F&ES, where her studies focused on environmental communication and climate change. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Middlebury College.

Meghan Wagner is the Project Coordinator for Michigan Sustainability Cases (MSC) at the University of Michigan. In her work with MSC, she facilitates case study production through collaborative partnerships with teams of students, faculty, and practitioners. Her transition into the field of sustainability was catalyzed by her experience teaching environmental science at the community college level, and longstanding interests in climate change and science communication. Meghan holds a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the University of Michigan, where her research focused on trace metal accumulation in marine sediments. She also holds an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Chemistry from Indiana University. Prior to graduate school, she served as a Science Resource Volunteer with the Peace Corps in South Africa.

Video recording available at https://youtu.be/0tu4wthorlw

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