An audience looking towards a speaker in a conference room.

Faculty and instructors discuss sustainability education implementation

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November 26, 2023

Over 40 Ohio State faculty members and instructors representing at least 18 different university academic units gathered in October to identify implementation activities for a new sustainability education and workforce development vision.

Facilitated by the Sustainability Institute, the Education and Workforce Development Townhall gathering represented the next step in the university’s Advancing Sustainability at Ohio State initiative. This initiative aims to position the university as a clear leader among higher education institutions in sustainability education, research and outreach and engagement. 

Reflecting upon the education and workforce development visioning paper, which was produced during the Spring 2023 semester by the faculty-led Sustainability Education Visioning Committee, townhall participants contributed their thoughts on how the university could best achieve the long-term targets established in the visioning paper.

“Sustainability is in so many places at this university, but to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts, this effort and leadership is necessary,” Norman Jones, Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education, said. “Today, we are moving forward.  We are here to widen the circle by engaging a wider group of faculty and instructors and to develop roadmaps and strategies for new programs and initiatives.”

Following general session and breakout group discussions, townhall participants outlined the following roadmap actions for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2024 to begin to assemble the university’s parts into a more holistic sustainability education offering:

  • Launch three new Sustainability Education and Learning Committee subcommittees:
    • Undergraduate Sustainability Education, led by Jeff Sharp, Professor of Rural Sociology, School of Environment and Natural Resources
    • Graduate and Professional Sustainability Education, led by Michael Bisesi, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Academic Administration and Professor and Interim Chair for Environmental Health Sciences, College of Public Health
    • Pedagogy, led by Maria Conroy, Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning, Knowlton School of Architecture
  • Development of near-term strategies for progressing towards key vision targets
  • Academic unit engagement for goal alignment
  • New programs and initiatives option considerations

The townhall participants were joined by Chris Boone, Professor and Former Dean, College of Global Futures, Arizona State University, and Former Dean, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University. Dr. Boone also served as Chair of the Visiting Committee for Advancing Sustainability at Ohio State, which provided an external committee report to the university after meeting with more than 50 university faculty, instructors, staff and students.

“With sustainability, it is important that it is an all-in transdisciplinary approach,” Dr. Boone said. “For sustainability to succeed, we need multiple ways of knowing to understand complex social and ecological systems. Being a big, comprehensive university is a tremendous asset.”

With the input collected from the townhall participants, Ohio State’s various sustainability education and workforce development assets are beginning to come together towards a shared implementation vision.

If you are interested in engaging further with sustainability education at Ohio State, please contact Gina Jaquet, SI Director of Education and Learning.