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By Richard L. Torgerson, President, Luther College And Co-Chair, ACUPCC Academic Committee
(This article appears in the June, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCRichard Torgerson, President, Luther College

Since its founding in 1861, Luther College has remained true to its mission by preparing graduates to respond to a changing world. As we look ahead we see global environmental problems, resource scarcity, and climate change threatening the health of the planet. In response to these threats Luther College’s 2007 Sesquicentennial Strategic Plan pushes the college to seek sustainability through greater operational efficiencies while preparing graduates with the skills, knowledge, and experience to lead society toward a more sustainable future. In order to “make sustainability a part of every student’s learning experience,” a clearly articulated conceptual framework for sustainability education is necessary so that faculty from disciplines across the campus can discover how sustainability connects to their work and can enrich their teaching.

In March 2009 a campus faculty survey revealed 25 courses are sustainability-focused, which means 20-100% of the class time in these courses deals with sustainability.  Another 16 courses were sustainability-related, which means less than 20% of class time dealt with sustainability. In summer 2012 nine Luther faculty have submitted proposals to participate in a summer workshop to prepare a fully designed new or modified, ready-to-teach course focusing on sustainability. Participating faculty are also asked to engage in ongoing discussion through the fall of 2012 with faculty peers to share ideas and plans for dissemination of work and to share their experiences through presentations and brown-bag lunches. Participating faculty receive a $1200 stipend jointly funded by the Margaret Cargill Foundation and the Luther President’s Fund. The use of presidential discretionary funds for high priority initiatives signals to the campus a level of importance and affirms good work being done. To stimulate faculty thinking about sustainability in the curriculum two Luther faculty have written a Frequently Asked Questions about Sustainability Education to answer questions and stimulate thinking.

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