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Sustainability and Climate Awareness

Facilitator: David Salisbury

The University of Richmond’s Sustainability Plan (2019-2025) resulted from the University of Richmond’s 2017 Strategic Plan whose fifth value, “Stewardship in a Changing World, began with: “Complete and implement a Sustainability Strategic Plan to further weave responsible environmental stewardship into the fabric of the University.” Where the faculty can have the most impact in our Sustainability Plan (2019-2025) is the first goal: “Integrate sustainability into a University of Richmond education.” The curriculum is an integral part of the fabric of the University and essential to the successful integration of sustainability, stewardship, and awareness of the climate crisis into our education. The University’s 2016 Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Report for the Association of Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) earned only a 41% grade under the critically important “Curriculum” category. The 2019 STARS Report curriculum scoring improved by only 11%, to 52%. Meanwhile, our incoming students are more and more interested in sustainability as evidenced by a 2020 UR Admission’s Office survey that found 93% of admitted students stated environmental sustainability is very important (42%) or somewhat important (51%) to their personal lives (71.5% response rate). In short, our curriculum has not caught up to the priorities of our students and our own strategic and sustainability plans. This FLC responds directly to these challenges by thinking creatively to integrate Sustainability and Climate Awareness into the University curriculum and programming across campus.

Initial Objectives of our Learning Community

This FLC’s primary objective is to explore strategies to integrate sustainability and climate awareness into coursework, high impact practices, and programming across the university. Our discussions will allow us to sketch out a framework for sustainability and climate awareness across the UR curriculum. Expected outcomes include thoughtful recommendations to integrate environmental stewardship, sustainability, and climate change awareness throughout our university via initiatives such as:

• Sustainability Minor
• Center for Sustainability
• General Education Program
• Living and Learning Programs
• Cross-school initiatives
• External Grants

Our FLC will be a dynamic, interdisciplinary, and collaborative space to encourage a free flow of ideas that address how Richmond faculty can build the University of Richmond’s ability to provide strong sustainability and climate awareness programming and curricula to our students. We look forward to working closely with Sustainability Director Rob Andrejewski.

Reading Materials

Several potential works, including the One Book, have been identified (listed below), and we plan to continue to compile books and articles based on the teaching objectives of FLC members
University of Richmond Faculty Learning Community- Sustainability and Climate Awareness
and our collective visions. As we all work to identify several core readings for meetings during
the 2021-2022 year, we will scan and post these selections to Blackboard so everyone has access.

Johnson, A. E., & Wilkinson, K. K. (2020). All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for
the Climate Crisis. One World

Aber, John, Tom Kelly and Bruce Mallory, Eds. (2009). The Sustainable Learning Community:
One University’s Journey to the Future. New Hampshire.

Richard, K. (2010). Critical Pedagogy, Ecoliteracy, and Planetary Crisis: the Ecopedagogy
Movement. Peter Lang Publishing.