SCC Webinar

A learning-outcomes-based general education sustainability requirement

January 30, 2018 at 10AM Eastern


Laura Hill
University of Vermont

The University of Vermont (UVM) adopted a learning-outcomes-based general education sustainability requirement in Fall 2015. The requirement is unique because sustainability is a non-traditional general education theme, and general education requirements are routinely course-based, not learning-outcomes based. The learning-outcomes based nature of the requirement allowed us to create a flexible requirement with three options: taking a sustainability-approved course, enrolling in a sustainability curricula, or engaging in an experiential endeavor whereby the learning outcomes can be met outside of the classroom.

We will present how the requirement was successfully implemented through strategic consideration of three important institutional contexts: governance structure, academic culture, and the overall institutional environment. There were 3 stages: (1) pre-operational and sustainability learning outcomes development, (2) formal process and official adoption by UVM’s Faculty Senate, and (3) implementation.

As we discuss the institutional framework and the procedural steps taken, we will define key characteristics of success, including patience and genuine attention to process, deliberate and transparent action, willingness to collaborate, and an alliance of students, faculty, administrators, and staff. Our case study can assist other institutions to develop their own strategies for adopting university-wide sustainability requirements.

Dr. Laura Hill is Senior Lecturer and Research Associate at the University of Vermont. She co-chairs the UVM Sustainability Curriculum Review Committee. She is trained as a plant ecologist and has conducted research in wetland ecosystems. Her research focused on the potential of growing cold-hardy varieties of rice (Oryza sativa) in cold climates, such as the US Northeast. The project results have informed farmers in the region how to utilize subprime agricultural land (i.e., on dairy farms) to grow rice and increase farm diversity and income in a changing climate. Dr. Hill is the recipient of the 2014 Joseph E. Carrigan Award for Excellence in Teaching and Undergraduate Education. Her article, “Integrating sustainability learning outcomes into a university curriculum,” is currently in press with the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.

The video recording for this webinar is available at: https://youtu.be/bRv3wv1sg8c

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