Academic Sustainability Program

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“Sustainability is not just about caring for the environment, it’s also about caring for the society around you.”

Laine Harrington ’21, Environmental Science

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Director’s Note:

The Academic Sustainability Program has had a busy year. We’ve added dozens of courses to the redesigned minor in Sustainability Studies, toward which a record-shattering 128 students are currently working. Students in the Capstone course  produced outstanding student work that drew on their expertise in forestry, landscape architecture, history, marketing, and more. Our new faculty directory provided a valuable resource and a record of the immense range of expertise across campus. On Earth Day, we launched our new research symposia series, which will provide an interdisciplinary platform for researchers to share that expertise and to showcase the exciting work going on in Auburn’s laboratories and archives. And in early May, faculty members from twelve departments in seven colleges will participate in the 2021 Fall Line Workshop, designing new courses on themes of racial, social, and environmental justice. [more]

There is increasing demand for students with training and job skills for the green economy, and a widening array of sustainability-related careers to choose from. Sustainability studies seek to improve environmental health, social justice, economic development, and individual well-being through the integration of disciplinary perspectives from across the university. Nearly four hundred faculty members from fifty-five departments across the University research and teach on sustainability-related topics, ranging from materials science to racial equity.

Auburn University’s Academic Sustainability Program supports and encourages learning, teaching, and research that incorporates sustainability principles in all academic units on campus, and works to enhance interaction between campus operations and academic activities in sustainability. We pursue this mission through four principle activities:

  1. Oversight of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability Studies.
  2. Support for faculty seeking to incorporate sustainability themes in the classroom via curriculum development workshops and consultation.
  3. Support for the development of interdisciplinary research programs and collaborations that include ideas and issues in sustainability.
  4. Coordination with the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management to enhance the use of campus operations as examples and projects in our courses and research, and to use our research and teaching to inform and support the development of sustainable operations on campus.

“Sustainability is about helping the environment, but it’s also about supporting communities, building economies, and preserving personal health and well-being. A sustainable solution often looks at the long-term effects in all the areas as opposed to short term gains in one area. Considering the social, the economic, and the environmental factors of a solution is why it is important to bring people together from all backgrounds to work on an interdisciplinary team.”

— Kiara MacDonald ’21, Biosystems Engineering

Last modified: May 17, 2021