Last month, I joined a cohort of faculty in the Chesapeake Project, which provides UMD faculty with support for incorporating sustainability into courses across the university. We were led through a whirlwind tour of sustainability: definitions, visions, facilities, programs, issue areas, and teaching tools.
It worked. Not that I needed much encouragement, but I now have specific ideas for integrating sustainability into my courses this fall. For example, in my usual coverage of organizational culture, I’m planning to replace current lecture examples of communicating social norms from selections that target moderate drinking, to sustainability-themed norms with the “Terps ♥︎ the tap” and “Terps leave small footprints” campaigns.
For the same lesson, the in-class activity was previously about planning for organizational culture change at NASA after the Challenger disaster. Instead, I’ll have students design a “greening the firm” culture change plan. It requires the same kind of problem-solving, and I suspect it will also be uplifting for students to identify concrete ways that they too could leverage their positions and skills to support sustainability.
I’ve also decided that the lesson on “maintenance” will become “maintenance and sustainability”. The in-class activity might be something to do with designing an IT system for cradle-to-cradle product management, such as those of Patagonia and Nike. The larger themes of maintenance and sustainability are often-neglected aspects of the information lifecycle that are important in practice, and I think the students will benefit from the exposure.
All in all, it was a cathartic experience. The Chesapeake Project gave me the tools and provocation to bring sustainability into my classes, and ideas for expanding sustainability efforts in my college.