The sixth annual Magnolias Curriculum Project brought together 14 faculty members on May 10-11, 2017, to develop innovative course components that will inspire systems thinking in students and empower an understanding of sustainability through a variety of lenses.
During this two-day workshop, participants discussed sustainability literature, developed learning objectives for their students, and shared perspectives from their own fields of study.
For the semester following the workshop, faculty participants submit 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 are completely new courses they are developing.
Members of this year’s cohort represented a breadth of disciplinary and campus homes: music, education, the ZSR Library, romance languages, chemistry, English, anthropology, communication, and the Reynolda Gardens public education program.
Ron Von Burg, assistant professor in the Department of Communications, and Luke Johnston, associate professor in the Department for the Study of Religions, both Magnolias Project alumni, facilitated this year’s workshop. Guest presenters, Yadkin Riverkeeper, Will Scott and Sylvia Oberle, Senior Fellow with the Pro Humanitate Institute, shared resources for designing course content to engage students in locally relevant issues.
One of this year’s participants reported that the experience “has helped me not only think about my classes, but also how to frame my own research to the public. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations we had, and the presentations did a great job of making the ideas we were discussing applicable.”
Each year this workshop results in an increased number of courses that support a wide variety of sustainability-related learning objectives. This approach fits well into the context of a liberal arts education– students who are exposed to multiple disciplinary perspectives have a more complete understanding of the context in which many of the current socio-environmental trends are situated. The 2017 cohort brought the number of Magnolias Curriculum Project participants up to 66.
This year’s Magnolias Curriculum Project was hosted by the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability and the Office of Sustainability.