ACM FaCE Project

ACM FaCE Project:
Integrating Sustainability into the Undergraduate Curriculum

Lead Institution: Luther College
Partner Institutions: Carleton College, Macalester College, St. Olaf College
Project Dates: Spring 2010-Spring 2011

Building a wind turbine from German kits.
Building a wind turbine from German kits.

Project Goal

The aim of the proposed project is to change the sustainability dynamic on our college campuses by gathering carefully selected faculty representatives of ACM schools to work together in an intentional and structured way over a full year.  The goal of this cross-disciplinary and cross-college collaboration is to develop, assess, and then disseminate well thought-out pedagogical strategies and practical, meaningful, usable activities for introductory courses across the disciplines at our institutions and beyond.  A conscious attention to learning outcomes further enhances the promise of this collaborative work among the colleges of the ACM.

Translated College Garden Vegetable Markers to German
Translated College Garden Vegetable Markers to German

Project Activities and Timetable

We envision three main phases of the collaboration over a 15-month period, beginning with the project planning phase in late winter 2010 and culminating with a major event focused on sustainability education in spring 2011.  Details of each phase that deans will want to share with their campus’ project participants are as follows:

Phase I: Selection of Participants.

  1. Spring 2010: Careful and purposeful selection of 45 project participants. 
  2. Late spring 2010: Preparation for the opening workshop.  Under the leadership of the project coordinator, the planning team will review and finalize plans for the opening workshop.  To ensure that project participants from the various schools can make the most of their time together during the workshop, they will be asked to do the following:
    • Work with other team members to collect syllabi from their home institution and upload them to the project website.  The goal is to gather syllabi from introductory courses in which sustainability has been incorporated or could be introduced.
    • Upload to the website their individual responses to a set of questions developed by the planning team.  These questions will include the following, among others:
      1. How are you incorporating sustainability into your own courses? 
      2. How are colleagues on your campus incorporating sustainability into other courses in your curriculum?
      3. What resources are you aware of for incorporating sustainability into the core teachings of your own academic discipline? 
  3. Early summer 2010:  Opening workshop.  Having familiarized themselves with sustainability education on their own campuses and in their own academic disciplines, all 45 participants will attend a two-day gathering at Luther College to launch the collaborative project.  The goals of the opening workshop will be to foster cross-disciplinary associations and to create working groups by discipline and discipline-cluster in order to address the integration of sustainability within the curriculum.  A variety of formats will be used including full-group sessions on the importance of defining sustainability as a starting point for curriculum integration and on connections between the liberal arts and sustainability.  Much of the workshop will be spent in discipline-based breakout sessions.  For example, significant time will be allotted during the two-day gathering for participants to work in small cross-college groups by disciplines to examine the overlap between sustainability concepts and key ideas and skills within each discipline.  These groups will also engage in facilitated work on pedagogical strategies for incorporating sustainability into introductory courses in each discipline.

    Alternating with these discipline specific activities, participants will work together in slightly larger cross-college clusters of faculty from related disciplines (for example, religion and philosophy or biology and chemistry).  Based on the sharing of similar questions and teaching techniques that have emerged from their more narrowly focused disciplinary conversations described above, these larger groups will generate plans for developing specific lessons, activities, and assignments for introductory courses, as well as a scheme for testing out and monitoring the efficacy of those products.  The work begun in this two-day gathering by both the smaller disciplinary groups and the larger clusters of related disciplines will continue through the year via conference calls and email exchanges on the project list-serve, as well as written reports that participants will upload to the project website.   

Phase III: Culminating Workshop and Conference

  1. Spring 2011: Culminating workshop and conference.  The culminating two-day event will be held at Luther College and will include a closing workshop followed by a conference on integrating sustainability into the undergraduate curriculum.  The workshop will bring together all project participants for purposes of reviewing the yearlong collaboration, sharing outcomes, and planning for future activities.  The main objectives will be to a) synthesize the findings of the collaborative project, b) focus the assembled group on plans for curricular integration, c) assess the project based on original goals and final outcomes, and d) determine strategies for the further dissemination of the materials that have been generated by disciplinary groups and inter-disciplinary clusters.  The groups will come together for the purpose of reporting outcomes and sharing teaching tools and other products of the project.  Considerable attention will be given to presentations and publications, workshops, websites, databases, and other means for sharing this model and the materials generated from it with the ACM campuses, with non-ACM colleges and universities, and with higher education sustainability networks.

    The second day of the culminating event will be a conference on integrating sustainability into the undergraduate curriculum that will be open to participants from colleges and universities outside the ACM.  A major speaker with expertise in education for sustainability will be used as a draw for the event.  The conference will provide a forum for project participants to share the model for their collaborative project, highlight the most significant outcomes, and present best practices in sustainability education to an audience beyond the ACM.  All conference attendees will be asked to complete an online evaluation as a way to assess the impact of the conference and the degree to which it achieved the planning team’s goals for the event.


The FaCE grant will cover most costs associated with the opening workshop and the closing workshop and conference.  Travel is not covered by the FaCE grant.  If the planning team is successful in their efforts to secure additional funding, then some or all travel costs will be paid as well.  Details of covered costs are listed below.

Opening Workshop in June 2010 (2 days)

Covered costs: Dinner the first night and other meals over the course of the two-day workshop; materials; accommodations on campus for two nights
Not covered: Travel to and from Luther; meals en route

Culminating Workshop and Conference in Spring 2011 (2 days)

Covered costs: Some meals; materials; accommodations for one night
Not covered: Travel to and from Luther; meals en route; some meals during the conference; accommodations for the night before the conference begins or the night of the second day of the conference, if needed