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Archive for the ‘School Innovations’ Category

By Candy Center, SEED Center Consultant and Todd Cohen, Director of the SEED Center (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe American Association of Community Colleges’ SEED Center Mentor Connect program pairs best-in-class green colleges with “mentee” colleges in an effort to more swiftly enhance programs that prepare students for careers in clean energy and green fields.

The SEED Center created this pilot mentoring project in response to a growing demand from its 471 colleges seekingSEED Logo more in-depth technical assistance. “We realized the best way to replicate some of the great sustainability-related practices we were finding on college campuses was through a structured program that would leverage the expertise of our growing pool of community college experts and create peer-to-peer networking opportunities,” said Todd Cohen, director of the SEED Center.

Mentee colleAACC Logoges created project plans and outcomes and secured senior administrative support for their participation. Mentors were matched with mentees based on need and fit and over a period of nine months engaged in a series of working conference calls and, in some cases, site visits.

Actions focused on a range of clean tech workforce development and broader sustainability curriculum efforts. Some colleges devised strategies to more effectively engage regional employers in current or new program design while others began college-wide efforts to embed sustainability concepts into core curriculum.

The pilot project has created some significant early successes including a coordinated 14-college effort in Kentucky to train automotive faculty to infuse hybrid and alternative fuels technologies into their programs. While the peer-to-peer technical assistance has been effective, it is the potential for these partnerships to become long-term relationships that is most exciting.

Monroe Community College/Los Angeles Trade-Technical CollegeScreen shot 2013-02-06 at 12.03.59 PM

Monroe Community College (MCC) has offered a number of renewable and clean energy courses but was looking to invigorate and expand these and related degree offerings to more closely match employer needs in the New York Finger Lakes region.  Through the Mentor Connect program MCC focused on two project goals:

1) Identify new appropriate building science and alternative energy programs, and; 2) Grow enrollment in MCC’s newly developed Solar Thermal Certificate, including identifying new certificates that will be fully transferable into existing HVAC and construction technology degree programs.

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 1.15.21 PMMCC is now implementing a strategy used by several community colleges, including Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, to leverage industry certifications and competencies creating “stackable” certificates with career pathways.   With this model, students complete aligned foundational competencies and receive academic certificates and/or industry certifications which can be “stacked” into an associate’s degree. The model, which has proven to be successful in helping student achievement, has only just begun to be adapted to sustainability-related industry sectors.

In a series of conversations, LATTC mentors worked with MCC staff to use LATTC’s forthcoming tool Defining Your College’s Competitive Advantage in the Emerging Green Economy:  A Blueprint for Building High Quality, Green Programs of Study.  The tool helped MCC assess external factors—from industry incentives to state policy to their community appetite for sustainability—that would likely determine which clean tech industry sectors might be high-growth sectors, and thus, worthy of further college training investment.

MCC has now set a path to adapt its new solar thermal technology certificate program to prepare students to become technicians Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 1.31.49 PMskilled in the design, installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems. MCC’s certificate program offers a curriculum that reflects industry standards and provides a pathway to an A.A. S. degree in heating, ventilation and air conditioning/refrigeration. The connections forged as part of the Mentor Connect cohort enabled MCC to evaluate new programming opportunities and to create continuing connections between the two colleges. LATTC program chairs will share curricular materials with MCC departments to assist MCC as they revise and adapt their renewable and clean energy curriculum.

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2013 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards

Recognizing Innovation and Excellence in Climate Leadership at Signatory Institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

Second Nature is pleased to announce the following institutions as Finalists for the 2013 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards.

2013-SNCLA-Finalist

Finalists were chosen from an outstanding pool of peer institutions, based on their commitment to climate and sustainability leadership and successful implementation of related programs, education, and partnerships.  The full criteria can be found here.

The Climate Leadership Awards highlight campus innovation and climate leadership to transition society to a clean, just, and sustainable future. Finalists are chosen from ACUPCC signatory institutions in good standing via a nomination process.  This year marks the fourth annual Climate Leadership Awards. Finalists will advance to be considered for a 2013 Award.

2013 Finalists for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership

  • Associate Colleges
    Bellevue College, WA
    Glendale Community College, AZ
    Saint Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, MO
    University of Hawaii Kauai Community College, HI
  • Baccalaureate College
    Carleton College, MN
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges, NY
    Middlebury College, VT
    Oberlin College, OH
  • Master’s Granting Institutions
    American Public University System, WV
    Chatham University, PA
    Goddard College, VT
    Western State Colorado University, CO
  • Doctorate Granting Institutions
    Georgia Institute of Technology, GA
    Indiana State University, IN
    Missouri University of Science & Technology, MO
    Portland State University, OR
    State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, NY
  • Special Focus Institutions
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy, MA
    Pratt Institute of Art & Design, NY
    University of Massachusetts Medical School, MA

In partnership with Planet Forward, all finalists will be featured in a public voting competition during April 2013, where viewers can vote on the most innovative and ground-breaking institution in each Carnegie Classification. Campuses with the top votes at the end of April will be featured in a variety of media opportunities.

Watch 2012 Finalists videos produced by Carleton CollegePratt Institute of Art & Design, and many others, on the Planet Forward site. Glendale Community College, Goddard College, and the Georgia Institute of Technology were also Finalists in the 2012 awards competition.

For more information about the Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards: http://secondnature.org/awards/

View 2012 Climate Leadership Award Recipients
View 2012 Climate Leadership Award Finalists
View 2011 Climate Leadership Award Recipients
View 2010 Climate Leadership Award Recipients

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This piece by Unity College President Stephen Mulkey originally appeared on Climate Access and is reposted with permission from that site.

Crisis and opportunity in the Environmental Century: Inspiring a generation to greatness
By: Unity College President, Stephen Mulkey

As an ecologist, I know that we have precious little time to prepare a generation to respond to the ecological crisis of our planet in peril. As the president of Unity College, I am alarmed by how little progress has been made in focusing higher learning on what is undoubtedly the most important challenge facing humankind. Given the overwhelming scientific evidence of imminent climate disruption, failure to make climate literacy a requisite part of any undergraduate curriculum is inexcusable.

Recent papers in the journal Nature show that we have transgressed the boundaries of a safe operating space for humanity with respect to several key environmental factors. Chief among these is climate change, which amplifies the effects of all other critical factors such as freshwater depletion, nitrogen pollution, biodiversity loss, ozone depletion, and changes in land use. There is now mounting evidence that sometime during this century we will reach a state shift in the planet’s ability to support us (doi:10.1038/nature11018). Climate change will affect every facet of the academy and change the practice of essentially all fields of study.

Unity College aspires to be America’s Environmental College and thus climate change must be a centerpiece of our programming. It is nothing short of mission critical that we get this right. At my request the faculty and Board of Trustees have adopted Sustainability Science (sensu U.S. National Academy of Science) as our overarching framework for all academic programming, and especially for upper division courses. Although this approach addresses all aspects of global environmental change, because of its innovative delivery, it is especially suited to the urgency of climate change. As a four-year liberal arts academy, a focus this specific has sweeping implications for our programming, but it does not obviate the need for critical skills such as oral and written literacy. Thus I am quick to point out that the humanities are foundational to implementation of Sustainability Science as pedagogy.

As multiple components of our life support deteriorate, I think it likely that this century is destined to be the Century of the Environment. There can be little doubt that a child born today faces the prospect of living in a vastly diminished world unless we are able to make significant adjustments in our use of natural resources and bring new sources of energy rapidly online. Development of a sustainable relationship with our natural resources is an imperative for our survival as we face the ultimate test of our adaptability as a species. Owing to the lead-time required to address climate change, it is likely that we have little more than a decade to vigorously transition towards sustainability. Because our curriculum is science-based, we do not shy away from acknowledging that the consequences of failing to respond will be catastrophic and irrevocable over a millennial time scale. Such a broad frame for the work of Unity College gives profound meaning to everything we do.

Interdisciplinary programming in higher education is accepted as necessary for effective instructional delivery of complex environmental problems. Unfortunately this approach has largely failed because of the impediments to sharing resources among disciplinary silos at universities. Moreover, the need for students to sequentially access information from different disciplines makes integration of knowledge unwieldy and slow. In contrast, Sustainability Science employs transdisciplinary programming, which requires that the perspectives of various disciplines be simultaneously integrated in problem-focused pedagogy. This is a promising alternative framework that focuses on the dynamics of coupled human-natural systems and is defined by the problems that it addresses rather than by the disciplines it employs. Students are empowered to become knowledge brokers, while faculty act as curators of knowledge to provide students with networked resources that are generally external to the classroom.

Although an exciting innovation in delivery, Sustainability Science will not be useful if we cannot quickly produce effective practitioners. We are simply out of time to address many aspects of climate change. Accordingly, it is the streamlining of knowledge management that we think is one of the most significant advantages of Sustainability Science as a paradigm. The entering class this fall will be the first to matriculate under this new framework, and we are eager to demonstrate that our graduates can bring the right stuff to the green economy.

Because of the opportunities inherent in our long ecological crisis I see many reasons for hope. This crisis, made hugely immediate by climate change, represents an opportunity rarely witnessed in the history of our species. During this century the current generation of students will be forced to the limits of their ingenuity, cooperation, and innovation. I am struck that the results of such efforts will be immensely rewarding.Those who are prepared and can lead will have unprecedented opportunities for service through the creation of a new global economy based on sustainable practice. They will be remembered long after their time for laying the cornerstones of a stable human ecology.

I believe that we have a covenant of duty to not merely prepare, but also inspire this generation to rise to greatness. Indeed, this is the Great Work of their generation (cf., Thomas Berry). As a scientist, I know that climate change will be the defining environmental issue of this century, but as an educator I know that an even more pressing challenge is one of motivation and inspiration. History shows us that our species will not rise to meet great challenges unless there is a force that speaks to our hearts. Inspiration and affective power must be embedded in this endeavor if it is to succeed.

Historically, the arts and humanities have been the key to such willingness, and I see these fields as utterly indispensable to Sustainability Science. Our vision of a sustainable future must inspire, rather than burden, and thus it should be partnered with fine art, great literature, and powerful music. It must lead, rather than support the status quo. It must build, rather than merely struggle to maintain. It must counter fear with a luminous path forward. It must provide brilliant, pragmatic hope when the future seems devoid of options. Through the ineffable power of art and literature we can experience the grandeur of the quest for sustainability. By infusing sustainability education with such primal affective substance we can reclaim the identity that connects all of us as obligate social primates to each other and to the Earth.

It is my fervent hope that we will soon arrive at a cultural tipping point when higher education will embrace the imperative of this mission. David Orr has noted that “all education is environmental education,” and I take this to be literally true if we are to have any hope of supporting a civilization of over nine billion humans by mid century. Placed in the context of our own survival, there can be no more important mission for higher education. Yet, like awareness of the inevitability of our own death, awareness of impending ecological collapse is overwhelming, and thus unthinkable. We push it from our minds, especially if the evidence is not in our faces. So, for now we continue with business as usual in higher education, acquiescing to the perennial demand to educate students for jobs. The great irony is that within the next few decades these jobs will certainly not exist if we do not address the environmental imperative that we so assiduously avoid.

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Unity College is a signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Read the public reports including greenhouse gas inventories, Climate Action Plan, and Progress Reports by Unity College at rs.acupcc.org.

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We recommend this recent article originally posted on the Huffington Post, by Dr. Scott Miller, president of Bethany College and signatory to the ACUPCC. 

With the current election year, among other topics capturing headlines and media analysis, it’s sometimes challenging for other newsworthy stories to receive the coverage they deserve.

A prominent example is higher education. Aside from high-profile scandals, spectacular jumps in tuition costs or significant research breakthroughs, much of the news about colleges and universities escapes the attention of the mainstream media. Not only is this news generally good, but it directly impacts families and their daily lives all across America.

As a former reporter, I know well how and why certain stories are assigned in the newsroom. As a college president, however, I also appreciate the little-publicized but substantial achievements of higher education — as well as their related challenges — that deserve the public’s attention. Here are some examples:

Please link to the Huffington Post for the full article.

 


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By Stephen Muzzy, Senior Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the June, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The ACUPCC’s 5th year celebration also marks an important stage in the ongoing, unprecedented efforts of the network to publicly report on activities to eliminate operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide the education, research, and community engagement to enable the rest of society to do the same. Because of these tremendous efforts the ACUPCC Reporting System now includes 1585 GHG reports, 465 Climate Action Plans, and 240 Progress Reports on the Climate Action Plan! Public reporting by ACUPCC signatories demonstrates transparency and integrity for each institution’s commitment and contributes to the collective learning of the network and general public. The ACUPCC Reporting System also allows signatories to track, assess, and communicate progress to their campus community and beyond, demonstrating to prospective students, foundations, and potential private sector partners that their institution is serious and transparent about its commitment to climate change and sustainability. The individual efforts taken together are demonstrating impressive results and the growing impact of the network to prepare graduates and provide the necessary solutions for a sustainable future.

Making an Impact

The ACUPCC’s earliest signatories have had more than four years to assess, plan and begin implementing their Climate Action Plans allowing them to:

  • Build institutional capacity to foster career preparedness for their students through curriculum development
  • Secure funding for and from climate and sustainability efforts and;
  • Demonstrate leadership in institutional research and innovation

Preparedness

Understanding sustainability is requisite for career preparedness in the 21st century. ACUPCC institutions are employing a range of innovative approaches to ensure that climate and sustainability issues are incorporated into the educational experience of all students.  The 240 institutions that submitted a Progress Report on their Climate Action Plan to date have reported the following data:

Curriculum

  • 76,935 graduates covered by sustainability learning outcomes.
  • 175 signatories combine to offer 9,548 courses focused on sustainability
  • 112 require all students to have sustainability as a learning objective
  • 66 have offered professional development to all faculty in sustainability education.
  • 49 have included sustainability learning outcomes in institutional General Education Requirements.
  • 37 have included sustainability in fulfilling regional or state accreditation requirements.
  • 18 have included sustainability learning outcomes, tracks, or certificates in every academic major.

Research

  • 11,223 faculty members are engaged in sustainability research
  • 119 signatories have faculty engaged in sustainability research
  • 114 have a program to encourage student climate and/or sustainability research
  • 85 have a program to encourage faculty climate and or sustainability research
  • 67 have a policy that recognizes interdisciplinary research in faculty promotion and tenure.

(more…)

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2012 CLA winner badge

2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards

Recognizing Innovation and Excellence in Climate Leadership at Signatory Institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

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Recipients of the Third Annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards were recognized for their efforts during an awards ceremony at  the ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, DC on June 21st. This year’s Climate Leadership Awards were created, designed, and fabricated by students from Pratt Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies (CSDS). The awards were created using reclaimed redwood from New York City water towers. The surface of the wood was beautifully and uniformly weathered, and each award included a distinctive waterline running through the grain of each piece, providing a unique and one of a kind finish. The students felt that the material and finished product honored the intent of the awards by illustrating the unique and innovative strategies the recipients are taking to work toward climate neutrality.

The Climate Leadership Awards were created, designed, and fabricated by students from Pratt Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies

The 2012 awards featured the most competitive round of awards to date, with over 60 schools from across the network submitting nominations to be recognized for their climate leadership.

A select group of 20 finalists were chosen for their outstanding achievements to participate in a video competition in partnership with Planet Forward, the web to television initiative that asks citizens and experts to share energy, climate and sustainability innovations.

Finalists’ videos drew over 70,000 views and 14,000 votes from the public during a month long competition in April, 2012, with the top vote-getter, William-Paterson University of New Jersey, receiving over 2,800 votes.  Watch their innovative video – and all of the finalists’ entries – at planetforward.org.

The Award Winners were chosen by the Second Nature Board in May 2012, and the ten recipients represent the diversity of institutions of higher education and are located throughout the United States.

“These institutions are leading the way for the academic community by demonstrating how sustainable practices can be put into place on campus that have a long-term impact on creating a sustainable society for the benefit of all,” said Dr. Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature. “They have all shown tremendous creativity and an unrelenting commitment to integrate sustainable practices into their campuses and society as a whole.”

(more…)

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After more than 14,000 votes were cast during the Planet Forward video competition this month (on videos created by the 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award Finalists), Planet Forward announced the top vote-getter this week: William Paterson University of New Jersey!

William Paterson University Video Link

Watch the video at planetforward.org

William Paterson University was honored at the George Washington University Moving the Planet Forward Innovation Summit on Tuesday, April 17th, and will be featured in continued publicity with Planet Forward.

All 20 finalists are under consideration for a 2012 Climate Leadership Award. The winners will be chosen by the Second Nature Board, and honored at the Climate Leadership Summit at American University, June 21-22nd. Look for the announcement of this year’s Award Winners soon!

The top vote-getters for videos in each Carnegie Classification produced incredible videos  documenting their climate innovation:

Click here for more information about the Climate Leadership Awards, and to watch all of the Finalists’ videos, head to planetforward.org/climate-leadership-awards.

Read other blog posts about the 2012 Climate Leadership Awards.

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