New Fund Supports Teaching Sustainability

Application deadline is May 1

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Maurice Nelischer

Maurice Nelischer

How would you use up to $2,000 to include sustainability in any course you’re teaching at Guelph next year?

A new fund available in the 2013/14 academic year will help campus instructors weave sustainability into course curricula and foster a community of practice in sustainability education, says professor emeritus Maurice Nelischer, U of G’s director of sustainability.

Instructors may apply for up to $2,000 from a new sustainability learning fund supported by the Office for Sustainability (part of the Office of Research) and by Open Learning and Educational Support.

The funding is intended to help faculty members find ways to include sustainability in an existing course, maybe by developing new learning outcomes, learning modules, lectures or assessment tools.

“Create a unit in any course that somehow speaks to sustainability,” says Nelischer. He expects to support about seven projects next year from his office’s annual budget.

He figures the funding would be enough to pay a grad student or to work with Open Learning and Educational Support to develop a project for introduction in the fall.

Sustainability projects are ongoing in units such as Hospitality Services and Physical Resources, but fewer projects involve faculty members and individual courses on campus, he says.

Faculty members in the College of Management and Economics incorporate sustainability within many business courses.

Nelischer’s new course, “Towards Sustainability,” draws 180 students from across campus.

Former students tell him about small changes they’re making in the workplace, from increasing recycling at an electronics store to reducing food waste in a downtown restaurant.

It’s not just about the environment but about social, cultural and economic aspects, too, he says. “It’s those little solutions that make a difference.”

Earlier this year, Nelischer sent a letter to all campus instructors to introduce the new fund.

The deadline for applications is May 1. Applicants need to write a two-page letter outlining their proposal. A selection committee will review applications for impact and clarity.

He hopes to run a fall workshop to discuss the funded projects with other faculty members.

“Our biggest impact will be putting the idea into people’s minds and value sets that sustainability is something they can live with. Sustainability should be seen as an issue that has relevance in all courses across the curriculum.”

Referring to the U of G’s BetterPlanet Project fundraising campaign, he adds, “If we want to make a difference, change the 4,000 people who graduate here every year.”

For more information and to apply for funding, contact Nelischer at mnelisch@uoguelph.ca or Ext. 52191.