University-wide assessment of sustainability curricula launched

Recently, Penn State President Graham Spanier convened the leadership of the University to engage in a strategic planning exercise for sustainability at Penn State. An important part of future planning is an assessment of sustainability across all Penn State courses.

To date, colleges and universities have had no standardized, comprehensive way to compare their sustainability efforts across institutions. The growing demand for such a system has led to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS is a voluntary, self-reporting framework for recognizing and gauging relative progress toward sustainability among institutions of higher education.

The PSU Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Sustainability Course Survey seeks to identify academic offerings in sustainability across Penn State’s colleges and campuses. In support of Penn State’s current efforts to develop a strategic plan for sustainability, the participation of Penn State faculty members, instructors and graduate assistant instructors is sought.

The participation of full-time, part-time, adjunct, and graduate-student course instructors is encouraged. It is important that all those who teach resident instruction courses at Penn State have an opportunity to respond to this assessment survey and share their efforts in education for sustainability.

The results of this assessment will provide Penn State with a fuller inventory of current contributions to sustainability education at Penn State. It will allow the University to assess the existing level of sustainability engagement among faculty and students, and to develop and implement plans to expand and enhance learning opportunities in sustainability. Importantly, this information also will support the broad awareness of learning opportunities in sustainability among academic advisers and Penn State students.

This survey will take most respondents between five and 15 minutes to complete and can be found at online.

The STARS survey and related topics will be discussed at a free half-day faculty development workshop from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec.16, in room 315 of the Rider Building. Interested faculty may register at online.

Last Updated December 02, 2010