Wake Forest University

Sustainability Course Offerings Continue to Grow - Magnolias Curriculum Project

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability course offerings continue to grow

The fifth annual Magnolias Curriculum Project brought together ten faculty members on May 11-12, 2016, to explore extending sustainability education across disciplines. Ron Von Burg, assistant professor in the Department of Communications, and Luke Johnston, associate professor of Religion and Environmental Studies, facilitated this year’s workshop.

The workshop aims to build an interdisciplinary community of scholars dedicated to addressing sustainability and empowering these scholars to incorporate sustainability into their own courses.

This year’s cohort was a great illustration of the breadth of faculty with participation from the following departments: divinity, art, politics and international affairs, education, English, psychology and anthropology.

“I was probably most wonderfully surprised by the range of colleagues I met and formed relationships with—I really feel everyone brought something new and interesting to my world and I want to continue these relationships,” a Magnolias Curriculum Project participant said.

During this two-day workshop, participants discussed sustainability literature, developed key learning objectives for their students, and shared information from their own unique fields of study. This innovative approach to curricular change provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating environment.

“I left the workshop invigorated with new ideas and with a better framework for understanding sustainability at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, regionally and globally,” a participant stated in the workshop evaluation.

Following the workshop, faculty participants submitted a syllabus for a course in which sustainability-related outcomes are integrated. These courses are either classes the faculty have been teaching and plan to teach again, or completely new courses they are developing.

An example of a new sustainability course offering is Andrew Gurstelle’s Introduction to Museum Studies which explores sustainable heritage development, the long-term sustainability of cultural sites, and the idea of cultural landscapes as social constructs.

Each year this workshop results in an increased number of courses that support a wide variety of sustainability learning objectives. This gives students from all disciplines the opportunity to pursue knowledge about sustainability through a variety of lenses. The 2016 cohort brought the number of Magnolias Curriculum Project participants up to 52.

The faculty’s revised and new syllabi are available online and serve as examples for future cohorts.