Teaching & Learning

Infusing Planetary Thinking into the Curriculum at USU

Utah State University faculty representing business, interior design, engineering, physics, English, kinesiology and health will come together for a one-day workshop Tuesday, May 9, called “Destinations: Planetary Thinking in the Curriculum.”

According to event organizers, the workshop sets out to fulfill Utah State University’s part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which reads, “we believe colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by providing the knowledge, research, practice and informed graduates to create a positive and sustainable future.”

The workshop will include guest speakers including Johan DuToit, professor of wildland resources; Sheryl Aguilar, senior dietician; and a panel of faculty and students. A trip to USU’s Electric Vehicle Roadway & Research Facility and a performance of a musical piece about the water cycle by the Fry Street Quartet will demonstrate the breadth of sustainability concepts.

The workshop, which debuted in 2016, “provided an opportunity for interested faculty to come together to think about how planetary boundaries affect the subjects that they teach,” said Rebecca McFaul, assistant professor of music and event organizer in 2016.

If all of the faculty participants in the two years of the workshop include sustainability concepts in all their classes, they would reach more than 5,000 students, said USU sustainability coordinator and event organizer, Alexi Lamm.

“The workshop helps connect faculty with resources on the ways our changing environment affects students and their fields of study,” said Lamm. “It may be best practices, ethical decision-making, adaptation, full cost accounting or wherever connections faculty discover that will help USU graduates address planetary boundaries.”

The program is modeled after the Piedmont Project at Emory University and Ponderosa Project at Northern Arizona University. This year’s planning team includes Carlos Licon, assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning; Nicholas Flann, associate professor of computer science; Ryan Dupont, professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Alexi Lamm, sustainability coordinator. 

Sixteen USU faculty members will participate in the workshop supported by the Office of Academic and Instructional Services, deans and the Provost’s Office.

Contacts: Alexi Lamm, USU Sustainability Coordinator, alexi.lamm@usu.edu, 435.797.9299
Ryan Dupont, professor of civil and environmental engineering, ryan.dupont@usu.edu, 435.797.3227

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