We invite WFU faculty to enhance teaching and engagement with sustainability issues by participating in the Magnolias Curriculum Project. No prior experience with sustainability-related issues in the classroom or in research is necessary, and faculty at all ranks and career stages are welcome!
This innovative approach to curricular change, modeled on the nationally renowned Piedmont Project (Emory University), provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating and collegial experience to pool their expertise.
The workshop explores how we can meaningfully integrate sustainability—broadly defined—into our classrooms. Although we start by taking a close look at Wake Forest University and the larger Piedmont region, we invite participants to engage in local to global comparisons.
The Magnolia Project kicks off with a two-day workshop in May that offers opportunities to extend research and teaching horizons across disciplines and create new networks with fellow colleagues. Following the workshop, faculty participants prepare discipline-specific course materials on their own over the summer. They reconvene in early August to discuss their insights and experiences. Participants receive a stipend of $500 upon completion of a new or revised syllabus.
Project participants agree to:
- Read some materials prior to the workshop
- Participate in the full 2-day workshop on May 16-17, 2018
- Commit time during the summer to prepare or revise a syllabus and submit it in August
- Report back to the group in August.
Magnolias Project 2018 — Accepting Applications
We will accept applications for the May 2018 workshop through Wednesday, April 25, 2018. To apply, please send a short description (one paragraph maximum) of how you plan to change an existing course, or develop a new one, that will incorporate environmental and/or sustainability issues to Kim Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, departmental affiliation, phone number and e-mail address.
Syllabi and Statements of Participants
|First Year Seminars|
|Lisa Blee||History||American Environmental Thought||2012|
|Sarah Mason||Math||Counting on Sustainable Energy: Does it Add Up?||2012|
|Stavaroula Glezakos||Philosophy||Metaphysics and Movies||2012|
|Jack Dostal||Physics||Power and the U.S. Electrical Grid||2013|
|Lisa Kiang||Psychology||A Sociocultural Approach to Self & Identity Development||2013|
|John Oksanish||Classical Languages||STEM – Societies in Greco-Roman Antiquity||2014|
|Ann Cunningham||Education||Globalization, Education, and Technology||2015|
|Sarah Fick||Education||Schools & Schooling: Understanding Our Varied Experiences||2016|
|Elizabeth Clendinning||Music||Paradise Created? Bali and the Touristic Imagination||2017|
|Thomas Frank||History||Studies in Historic Preservation||2012|
|Lucas Johnston||Religion||Environmental Issues||2012|
|Judith Madera||English||Environmental Literature||2012|
|Monique O’Connell||History||Medieval World Civilizations||2012|
|T.H.M. Gellar-Goad||Classics||Greek and Roman Comedy||2013|
|Eric Stottlemyer||Writing||Environmental Sustainability in an Age of Mass Distraction||2013|
|Ron Von Burg||Communications||Humanity and Nature||2013|
|Erin Branch||English||Academic Research and Writing||2014|
|David Finn||Art||Design Studio: Ethics and Aesthetics||2014|
|Christina Soriano||Dance||Dance Composition||2014|
|D. Stokes Piercy||Communications||Advanced Media Production||2014|
|Nicholas Albertson||East Asian Languages||Contemporary Japanese Culture: From Postwar to Postmodern||2015|
|Jimmy Butts||Writing||Ecologies and Technologies of Reading and Writing||2015|
|Ben Coates||History||The United States and the World, 1763-1914||2015|
|Justin Green||Communications||Advocacy and Debate||2015|
|Robert Hellyer||History||World Economic History: Globalization, Wealth and Poverty since 1500||2015|
|Julia Scarborough||Classics||Seminar in Classical Studies: Ancient Pastoral and it’s Reception||2015|
|Alessandra Von Burg||Communications||Practices of Citizenship||2015|
|Qiaona Yu||East Asian Languages and Cultures||Fourth-Year Chinese||2017|
|Rowie Kirby-Straker||Communications||Public Speaking||2017|
|A.Z. Obiedat||Middle East and South Asia Studies||The West Versus the Rest: Challenges of Modernity||2017|
|Meredith Farmer||English||Environmental Destruction an Introduction to the Environmental Humanities||2017|
|Angela King||Chemistry||Organic Chemistry II||2012|
|Megan Rudock||Chemistry||Everyday Chemistry||2017|
|Steven Folmar||Anthropology||Medical Anthropology||2012|
|Robert Whaples||Economics||Natural Resource Economics||2012|
|Donal Mulcahy||Education||Teaching Elementary Social Studies||2013|
|Amanda Gengler||Sociology||Principles of Sociology||2014|
|Andrew Gurstelle||Anthropology||Introduction to Museum Studies||2016|
|Eranda Jayawickreme||Psychology||Positive Psychology||2016|
|Andrius Galisanka||Politics and International Affairs||Environmental Political Thought||2017|
|Jaira J. Harrington||Politics and International Affairs||Challenges to the Global Community||2017|
|Eric Jones||Anthropology||North American Archaeology||2017|
|Brian Calhoun||Education||Strategic Job Search||2017|
|Jim Norris||Math||Elementary Probability & Statistics||2013|
|Jason Parsley||Math||Calculus II||2013|
|Neal Walls||Divinity||The Ecology of Faith: An Agrarian Tour of the Holy Land||2013|
|Jill Crainshaw||Divinity||Theology and Disability||2015|
|Sunggu Yang||Divinity||Prophetic Ministry: Public Witness, Protest Arts & Preaching||2016|
|Fred Bahnson||Divinity||Tree of Life: Christianity, Climate Change, and Ecological Vocation||2016|
|William Davis||Business||Ethics and Business Leadership||2014|
|Jan Detter||Entrepreneurship||Social Entrepreneurship||2013|
|Dan Fogel||Sustainability||Sustainable Organization Management||2014|
|Amanda Foster||Library Studies||Accessing Information in the 21st Century||2017|
|Amanda Lanier||Reynolda Gardens||Young Naturalists “The Wonder of Water”||2017|
Each cohort of the Magnolias Project has contributed to this list of books that they have found relevant in teaching sustainability-related courses.
The Wake Forest faculty offer many courses that stimulate and facilitate learning for sustainability. A snapshot of the course inventory is pictured below. Click here for the full inventory of courses.
During the workshop, participants discussed sustainability literature, developed learning objectives for their students, and shared perspectives and stories from their own fields of study. For the semesters following the workshop, each faculty participant submits 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 being developed.
Members of this year’s cohort represented various disciplines including: politics and international affairs, entrepreneurship, art, biology, physics, psychology, business, French, and journalism.
“I enjoyed the Magnolias Curriculum Project and I believe what I have learned will greatly improve not only the course I focused on for revision, but all of the courses I teach,” reported one of this year’s Magnolias participants.
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 along with Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, Wake Forest’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Participants also had the opportunity to hear from a handful of Magnolias alumni on engaged learning for sustainability and integration of sustainability at the assignment level.
This workshop results in an increased number of courses that support a wide variety of sustainability-related learning objectives, creating opportunities for learning across the arc of a liberal arts education. The 2018 cohort brings the number of Magnolias Curriculum Project participants up to 76.
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.
This innovative approach to curricular change, modeled on the nationally renowned Piedmont Project (Emory University), provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating and collegial experience to pool their expertise. Faculty who would like to develop a new course module or an entirely new course that engages issues of sustainability and the environment are encouraged to apply.
The workshop will explore how we can meaningfully integrate sustainability—broadly defined—into our classrooms. Although we start by taking a close look at Wake Forest University and the larger Piedmont region, we invite participants to engage in local to global comparisons.
The Magnolia Project kicks off with a two-day workshop (May 10-11) that will offer opportunities to extend research and teaching horizons across disciplines and create new networks with fellow colleagues. Following the workshop, faculty participants prepare discipline-specific course materials on their own over the summer. They reconvene in the fall to discuss their insights and experiences. Participants receive a stipend of $500 ($250 upon completion of the workshop; $250 upon completion of a new or revised syllabus).
Project participants agree to:
- Read some materials prior to the workshop
- Participate in the full 2-day workshop on May 10-11, 2017
- Commit time during the summer to prepare or revise a syllabus and submit it in August
- Report back to the group in the fall semester
Interested? Applications will be accepted until April 17.
- Send a short description (one paragraph maximum) of how you plan to change an existing course, or develop a new one, that will incorporate environmental and/or sustainability issues to Kim Couch at email@example.com. Please include your name, departmental affiliation, phone number and e-mail address.
Want to know more?
Browse the Magnolias or Piedmont Project websites for example syllabi and faculty statements:
Come join a community of faculty searching for new ways to engage issues relevant to their fields.
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.
On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, change agents for sustainability across the Wake Forest campus gathered for the Champions of Change campus sustainability awards. The awards program recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability into operations, teaching, and engagement. Dean of the School of Divinity, Gail O’Day, and Chief of Staff for the Office of the President, Mary Pugel, presented the awards.
Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.
- The Office of the Registrar and the Surplus Property Program won in the Resource Conservation category. This year, the Office of the University Registrar completed four projects that saved over 13,000 pieces of paper, as well as printing and mailing costs for the university. Since its start in 2011, the Surplus Property Program has diverted nearly 250,000 lbs. of waste from the landfill, repurposed over 3,000 pieces of furniture and other items for use on campus, captured close to 30,000 lbs of residential electronic waste through a free pickup program, and helped the university avoid over $1 million dollars of new purchase costs.
- Department of Religion faculty member Steve Boyd was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Steve was recognized for his leadership of the Religion and Public Engagement Program and his statewide organizing of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future. Since its approval in 2011, 17 students have graduated with the Religion and Public Engagement concentration, and a record 12 more are set to graduate this year.
- Ron Von Burg was recognized for Teaching, Research and Engagement. Ron teaches the popular interdisciplinary undergraduate course Humanity & Nature; taught the communications workshop and led a graduate research course on Coasts and Climate Change in Belize this year for the new MA in Sustainability; and directs undergraduate students in writing and performing plays for school-aged children and “moot court”-style debates on sustainability issues annually. He is also an alumnus of Wake Forest’s own sustainability-across-the curriculum workshop, the Magnolias Project, and is co-facilitating that workshop for the second time this year.
- JL Bolt and the construction team of Facilities and Campus Services and Frank Shelton with Residence Life and Housing were recognized for a Bright Idea partnership. The construction team upcycled discarded bed frames from residence halls into white boards, bulletin board frames, safety bed rails, storage racks, benches, tables, mirror replacements, and mail boxes.
Additionally, Green Team captains Barbara Macri and Kate Ruley were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. As the Green Team captain for Human Resources, Barbara facilitated a department-wide sustainability goal-setting pilot, working collaboratively to develop a range of goals to meet the varying needs of her colleagues.
Kate coordinates the tracking of our institutional food purchases, identifying and calculating what we spend on regionally-grown, organic, and fair-trade-certified items. She mentors the team’s sustainability intern, and advocates for sustainable choices in menu development and procurement.
65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.
Dance is an increasingly popular art form for the investigation of cultural understandings of nature. Associate Professor of Dance, Christina Soriano, engaged her students in just such an investigation this semester. Soriano, who was a member of the 2014 Magnolias Curriculum Project cohort, modified her Dance Composition class to incorporate sustainability.
Soriano challenged her students to choreograph a piece based on nature, specifically something growing in Reynolda Gardens. She asked them to observe various plants, and then choose one to explore, taking into account its color, structure, growth and movement; how it might change with the seasons, and how it might react to light. With this information, the students developed their own movement studies, aligning their dances with nature.
After the assignment, the class performed Anna Halprin’s Planetary Dance to witness how other choreographers integrate nature themes into their work.
The students were also asked to consider how an art form like dance might become more sustainable through rehearsal, repetition, and thoughtful use of time and resources. She encouraged them to consider what made dance sustainable, and to journal their thoughts and experiences.
Annie Stockstill, a student in Soriano’s class, reflected that by continuing to dance well-known pieces, “I am preserving the ongoing life of the dances, and therefore acting out sustainability.” Serena Cates expressed similar feelings, stating “Personally, I choose to perceive dance as sustainable because, although the technique, style, or choreography alters over time, the motivation and impact of it has remained.”
My family and I live on a 22-acre farm in Stokes County. We are serious gardeners. I can’t remember the last time I bought a tomato at the store and I have saved my own okra and basil seeds each year for over a decade. Now late October, we have over 60 garlic heads up in the garden and have put the cold frame in place. We also raise Shetland sheep, a very hardy heritage wool breed. For a few years we raised heritage turkeys (Bourbon Reds) and maintain a flock of about 30 free-range laying hens and sell their eggs to wonderful people on campus. Sometimes I go to meetings and people say, “Oh, you are the egg lady.” All of this effort supplies fabulous, fresh and taste-laden ingredients to cook with. At my house, we eat very well.
But all of these farming endeavors do not pay the mortgage. My husband and I are both faculty in the Department of Chemistry, and Bruce currently serves as Associate Provost of Research. In the Chemistry Department, teaching slots are a common topic of discussion. We never have enough faculty members to meet demand for all the courses required for our majors and pre-med students. We run out of faculty teaching slots every semester and work hard to fill the needs of our students. Because of this, we are truly limited in the number of First Year Seminars (FYS) we can offer each year. Faculty who have developed FYS offerings offer them on a rotating basis.
I have taught the FYS True Value Meals several times in the past. According to the syllabus, True Value Meals “has been designed to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills of students, and their ability to express in writing and aloud their opinions and ideas, in a setting that focuses on the production, processing distribution and eating of food.” It is an ideal topic for the FYS, and a topic that I am passionate about. Luckily, my turn in the rotation came during the fall 2014 semester.
By coincidence, the semester I was offering a food-centered FYS class, the Office of Sustainability organized Make Every Bite Count, a speaker series about the food we grow and eat that challenges us to imagine how we can sustainably feed the world. Students are required to attend the events and we sit together as a group. In the following class meeting, the discussion is centered on frank analysis of each event and how it compares with other course material. In twenty years of teaching at Wake, I have never seen students as fired up as they were the day after viewing the documentary GMO OMG. I have no doubt that the talk by Vandana Shiva on the challenges of feeding a growing world population will be just as powerful, if not more so.
Since I taught True Value Meals last, the sustainability movement on campus has blossomed. I was able to participate in the Magnolias Project, which strives to integrate sustainability across the curriculum. The campus garden has grown both in size and organization. Campus Kitchen now has dedicated space on campus and has expanded its programming. All of these have combined for wonderful service-learning opportunities for my students. Each student is required to complete 18 hours of food-related service with community partners to enhance their readings for the course and aid class discussion. What have they been doing? The mid-term logs of service hours showed that they have been gleaning food from the Cobblestone Farmers Market for redistribution to food-insecure families; repackaging food from the on-campus dining hall for delivery to persons in need; making sandwiches for homeless individuals on Saturday mornings; turning plots, compost and planting fall crops. All of this effort has helped the partner agencies AND the students’ learning. Our class discussions are livelier because they are all experiencing different aspects of food culture in their work outside of class. And the students actually enjoy their service learning hours. It’s a nice break from reading and writing and gives them time to reflect on course material and try to integrate all the different pieces. Some students have found a “niche” at the university through their service learning partners. I am astounded by the number of students who want to become shift leaders for Campus Kitchen or interns with the campus garden. It’s helped me realize how important extra-curricular activities are to students’ overall wellness.
I can say with confidence that this semester students are the most engaged in my FYS material, thinking more deeply and broadly. I encourage all faculty to find a topic they are passionate about and use the plentiful teaching resources here at Wake to develop a class that will impact students. From teaching workshops on community engagement and sustainability to on-campus service learning opportunities, our university has a bounty of support for engaged learning.
By Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry
In the spring of 2012 I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Magnolias Curriculum Project. The readings and discussions in the workshop quickly revealed the big questions of sustainability: How does personal behavior and choice relate to global phenomenon? What do we hope to sustain, and who benefits? These issues are not only about the earth’s future, but also prompt deeper reflection about our history, relationships to places, capacity for self-awareness and change, and sense of responsibility to others.
I wanted to further explore these big questions in a First Year Seminar that I offered in spring 2014 titled Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought. My intention was to introduce students to traditions of environmental thought and help them explore their relationships to places, nature and social action. The class was organized as a journey from inner reflection to public outreach, culminating in a web exhibit. After reading classic and contemporary nature writing pieces, the students first created group photo essays that visually tell a story and make an interpretive point about human relationships to nature. Some groups chose to investigate personal relationships to significant places, while others depicted Wake Forest’s efforts to promote sustainability.
Meanwhile, the class visited Old Salem’s heritage gardens, Reynolda House Museum of Art, and Reynolda Village to make connections to scholarly arguments about landscape design, cultural values, and sustainability featured in the readings. Each student then chose one place in Winston-Salem to research in-depth, endeavoring to interpret the environmental and social histories of familiar and everyday places – a trail, lake, neighborhood, park – in novel ways. The final project was to create a podcast based on an interview with an environmental actor. The groups traveled around the Piedmont to visit organic farms, a prayer center, and the site of the Dan River coal ash spill to conduct interviews. Throughout the semester the students worked with Digital Initiatives Librarian Chelcie Rowell to build a digital exhibit featuring text, images, audiovisual presentations, and a map of place studies. In doing so, students had the opportunity to reflect on the power and limitations of technology to represent nature and educate and inspire others. Most crucially, the course allowed students to both think through their personal relationship to environments within the context of intellectual traditions, and to link these ideas to cooperative action and collective responsibility.
View the students’ web exhibit at: http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/fys100fff
By Lisa Blee, Assistant Professor of History
Eleven faculty members from across the disciplinary spectrum came together on May 13-14, 2014 for the 3rd annual Magnolias Curriculum Project. This year’s workshop was co-facilitated by communications professor Ron Von Burg, an alumnus of last year’s cohort, and Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, the university’s director of sustainability.
The aims of the workshop are to build a transdisciplinary community of scholars committed to addressing issues of sustainability and to empower faculty to consider themselves the experts at infusing sustainability into their courses.
Participants in the two-day workshop discussed provocative literature, considered and developed student learning outcomes, and shared resources with their colleagues. The deliverable for each participant is a syllabus into which they have infused sustainability-related outcomes. The course may be one they have been teaching and plan to teach again or a completely new course they are developing. The revised and new syllabi are posted online and serve as examples for future cohorts.
Wake Forest currently offers a minor in environmental studies and is launching a new Master’s in sustainability this fall. The result of the annual curriculum workshop is an increased number of courses being offered that support a variety of sustainability-related learning outcomes. This opens up possibilities for students pursuing these tracks of study to access electives that match up with a diverse array of disciplinary and professional interests.
The workshop model also aligns with the teaching and engagement goals of the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES), as it is designed to cultivate a broad community of scholars addressing sustainability issues. This year’s cohort illustrates the breadth of that community with participant scholars from art, management, sociology, history, classical languages, economics, dance, business, documentary film, and writing.
Closing words of appreciation from participants in the 2014 workshop reinforced the value of the collaborative model:
What a treat to meet colleagues from other parts of the university. It’s very easy to hole away and neither learn about nor appreciate what they are doing.
Meeting people from other departments. Hearing things from a different perspective.
Opportunity to learn about sustainability as a field, here on campus and amongst colleagues. Loved outside time…on schedule.
So glad I participated in the workshop!
By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability
Students in my fall 2013 Literature and the Environment seminar (ENG 341G) spent the semester exploring different sites of belonging through world literature. Their course work carried them through critical discussions on the anthropocene, bioregionalism, deep ecology, ecotones and general systems theory. In their final class unit, they targeted their analysis toward key issues of sustainability. Several groups of students got together to reflect on the ways sustainability connected them to different communities of practice. Prominent among such communities was Wake Forest.
In the following essays, students consider the ways environments are composed through participation. They urge other students to be more fully present in the ways they interact with their campus environment, and they propose solutions for more sustainable technological practices. Other essays reflect on the ways Wake Forest has shaped students as engaged individuals; students consider the ways the college’s environs have provided a vital resource for their spirits. Though all these short essays are quite different in their approaches to place values, all share an important central insight: Sustainability is something that needs to be grounded in communities of belonging.
By Dr. Judith Madera, Magnolias Project Participant 2012