Foster Institutional Change

This page was developed as a synthesis of lessons learned by participants in InTeGrate program models and is part of an extended set of InTeGrate resources on managing curricular reform.

Managing Curriculum Reform

Why Focus on Sustainability?
Personal and collective actions are needed to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources and environmental systems—land, air, and water—in an ethical and responsible manner. On this page, InTeGrate lays out the rationale for why undergraduate education should include a focus on Sustainability and Earth-centered societal issues.

Teach Earth Across the Curriculum
Several of the 16 InTeGrate program models sought to spread the teaching of Earth-related material widely through their undergraduate curricula. This suite of pages synthesizes the lessons they learned about how to do that.

Embed Sustainability in your Program
Issues such as balancing energy alternatives with environmental toxification, climate change, and provisioning a growing human population while maintaining natural resources have fundamental geoscience components. This set of pages makes the case that more geoscience programs should include learning about Sustainability as well as different ways that can be accomplished.


Search all InTeGrate Curriculum Reform Resources

Resources, processes or other administrative support that facilitate changeSee Also: Make Change Happen »

To effectively impact campus culture with respect to the Earth, institutional level change must occur. This occurs most effectively if there is multi-tiered interest and support across institutional disciplines as well as upstream and downstream within the administrative chain of command (president, cabinet, faculty senate, deans, chairs, general faculty body) as well as throughout the student body. Having this community of practice in place, insures that initiatives are seriously considered, constructively critiqued, and effectively adapted so that there will be institutional buy-in of human and economic resources. This leads to strategic plans that can be efficiently implemented because all of the stakeholders are represented in the process.

Garner Higher Administrative Support

The program models used various techniques to spark higher administrative support of their goals. This upper-level support mobilized financial support from the University and access to critical information in institutional practices and policies, which shortened timelines to completion.

Shippensburg University
Shippensburg's team, through their Sustainability initiatives, increased visibility of their efforts up to higher administration which led to incorporating Sustainability in their University's Academic Master Plan and developing a logo that reflects the interconnectedness of community, stewardship, and institutions in their sustainability engine at Shippensburg.
California State University - Chico
CSU garnered upper-level support by directly inviting deans, provost, and their president to attend classes in which the InTeGrate materials were being used and to their bi-weekly faculty learning community meetings.
University of Northern Colorado
By valuing sustainability and interdisciplinary work in annual and comprehensive evaluations, the Northern Colorado team was able to gain support for changes in their curriculum from their administration and individual faculty, which led to more opportunities for faculty development.
Savannah Sate University
At Savannah State, there was a department chair on the implementation leadership team and this construct allowed for ready access to advice on procedural aspects that positively impacted progress of the implementation. Inclusion of an administrator uniformly has aided in the program launch timelines as well as gaining support for trajectories toward sustainability post-award.

Leverage Strategic Plans

Many departments, campuses, and institutions are already engaged in efforts to engage sustainability as a part of their strategic planning. These efforts represent opportunities to access support and resources for implementing curricular models that address sustainability. In addition, demonstrating that your curricular efforts can support and compliment those strategic planning activities is a way to generate enthusiasm for them among members of your administration.

Shippensburg University
Guided by a carbon footprint assessment in 2010, Shippensburg's major infrastructure improvements have reduced operating expenses by millions of dollars and were estimated to reduce campus carbon footprint by an estimated 31% and electric demand by at least 8%. This kind of parallel sustainability initiative provided the implementation team with a supportive environment in which to make their curricular changes.
Claflin University
The Claflin team found that they already had strong commitments from their administration, particularly their president, which made significant action possible. Their administration had appointed a Sustainability Committee which organized recycling events and even changed the school logo to signify their commitment to sustainability.

Include Students in Developing Campus Initiatives

One mechanism that effectively encourages buy-in at multiple levels is having students play a central role in developing initiatives that lead to campus improvement in areas such as safety and resiliency through response and recovery.

Svannah State University
Savannah State University students in the Environmental Justice and Coastal Risk Management course worked toward developing a Coastal Hazard Management Plan.
Shippensburg University
The the Shippensburg project, students led an initiative to develop a campus-wide sustainability pledge to encourage all members of the campus community to work to improve their footprint.