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Last modified: Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New sustainability teaching awards recipients announced

Feb. 4, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two new teaching awards related to sustainability and environmental literacy -- the Sustainability Course Development Fellowships and the Sustainability and Environmental Literacy Leadership Award -- have been awarded to IU Bloomington faculty by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.

The first Sustainability Course Development Fellowships have been awarded to Tim Bartley, Department of Sociology; Melissa Clark, School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA); Jeffery McMullen, Kelley School of Business; and Phaedra Pezzullo and Jennifer Meta Robinson, Department of Communication and Culture.

The first Sustainability and Environmental Literacy Leadership Award has been given to Richard Wilk, departments of Anthropology and Gender Studies, and Peter Todd, Department of Cognitive Science and the School of Informatics.

"These awards help fulfill one of the primary goals of IU's new sustainability initiative," said Michael Hamburger, co-chair of the IU Task Force on Campus Sustainability, associate dean of faculties, and professor of geological science. "They bring together IU's academic strengths in sciences, humanities and the professional schools to address some of society's most daunting challenges. Together, they will help us build -- and sustain -- a growing community of faculty and students engaged in issues of sustainability and environmental literacy."

"These sustainability initiatives have galvanized faculty interest in a set of problems that are global in their reach but local in their solutions," said Tom Gieryn, IU vice provost for faculty and academic affairs,

"Finding solutions to today's complex environmental problems will require interdisciplinary knowledge and cooperation," said Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson. "IU Bloomington faculty members understand this, and are committed to teaching sustainability across the curriculum. These new awards will support the efforts of our faculty and better prepare our students to help preserve the planet's resources for future generations."

Sustainability Course Development Fellowships

The Sustainability Course Development Fellowships represent an instructional component of a broad-based initiative developed by the Indiana University Task Force on Campus Sustainability. They are intended to provide support for individual faculty members interested in expanding their teaching into topics related to sustainability and environmental stewardship. This year's recipients plan the development of new graduate and undergraduate courses that focus on different aspects of sustainability within the context of their respective disciplines.

Tim Bartley's proposal "Statistics for Sustainability: A Research Course on Environmental Literacy, Attitudes and Practices" plans to transform the Sociology Department's required social statistics course into an opportunity for sociology students to collect and analyze new data on the environmental literacy, practices and attitudes of fellow IU students.

Melissa Clark's proposal, "Environmental Sustainability" focuses on the development of a new SPEA undergraduate course on the environmental science and policy aspects of the sustainability challenge. The course will have a strong service-learning component that will challenge students to use their scientific and policy skills to help address local environmental stewardship problems.

Jeffery McMullen's "Environmental Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development" course will help business students explore the behavior of the commercial sector within an ethical framework provided by socio-cultural and political-legal institutions. Students will explore approaches by which business can be an instrument of more than personal profit, but one through which they can be good stewards of both the planet and humanity. McMullen plans to extend the elements of this course, currently offered only to MBA students, to a regular undergraduate course offering.

Phaedra Pezzullo and Jennifer Robinson's course "Communicating Sustainability" is developed in the context of a broader plan on "Teaching Sustainability and Environmental Literacy in the Humanities." The initial stage of the plan begins with the development of a new course that highlights the role of the humanities in communicating issues surrounding sustainability. Their course will focus on analyzing and understanding how both verbal and non-verbal communication forms are used by individuals and organizations to express humans' relationship with the natural environment and the role of rhetoric in shaping the sustainability movement.

Sustainability and Environmental Literacy Leadership Award

The Sustainability and Environmental Literacy Leadership Award acknowledges new teaching and learning initiatives that promise to have a lasting impact upon sustainability research and education and that serve as a model for further development of academic programs.

Richard Wilk and Peter Todd have laid extensive plans for a new food studies program in their proposal "Food, Sustainability and Environmental Literacy: Building Collaborative Networks for Research and Teaching at IU Bloomington." Together with colleagues from four other departments, Wilk and Todd propose to create an interdisciplinary network of faculty involved in food-studies research and education. Two conferences and the creation of cross-linked learning and research projects will help to create a self-sustaining community of faculty, students and community organizations involved in local food sustainability initiatives. Plans include an online register of ongoing and proposed projects, student internships, service-learning opportunities and faculty-student research projects.

Among the concrete products of the project will be a collection of working papers for Web publication, collection of food sustainability-related materials housed at the public library, plans for integrating the Hilltop Garden Center into teaching and research, and collaborative external grant proposals. This infrastructure will aid the eventual establishment of an undergraduate program in Food Studies, as well as a long-term goal of developing a Food Research Center at IU.

For more information on the Sustainability Course Development Fellowships or the Sustainability and Environmental Literacy Leadership Award, visit the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs site at

For additional details on the Indiana University Task Force on Campus Sustainability initiative, see