The integration of sustainability across the curriculum is a new challenge for colleges and universities. Classrooms are becoming the frontline for interdisciplinary learning, innovation, and leadership - in other words, they're becoming a force that can achieve change and help build a sustainable future. Dr. Roberta Attanasio, GSU Associate Professor of Biology, is committed to the integration of sustainability principles in her classes, and attended Furman University's Sustainability Full Cost Analysis (FCA) workshop (June 8 - 9, 2015) at the D
avid E. Shi Center for Sustainability. The workshop was designed to provide training for the introduction of FCA-based modules in classes from all disciplines.
FCA is a method of analysis that promotes the consideration of ecological and social components of capital systems as well as economic ones. It provides a selection of assessment tools that can help businesses and classes alike incorporate sustainability into capital decisions at every step in the process of production, distribution, use and disposal. The FCA workshop was funded by the Arthur Davis Foundations, and Dr. Attanasio was selected to be one of twenty-two faculty that attended. GSU was one of sixteen schools from across the country represented at this workshop.
In the past few years, the Shi Center has hosted several workshops to help Furman faculty members incorporate sustainability into their existing courses, but this is the first time faculty from other schools were invited to attend. This was also the first time that a learning module was introduced in the workshop. The learning module will be launched online this fall and will be free and open for use by any faculty members who wish to include FCA in their coursework. It will include a primer on Full Cost Analysis, case study documentaries, worksheets and additional materials that can be incorporated wholly or in parts into existing coursework or used as the basis for new material. The module can be found at: http://scholarexchange.furman.edu/shi-research/ in early September 2015.
"At Furman's Shi Center for Sustainability, a primary goal in providing sustainability and full cost analysis professional development for faculty is to support innovation and collaboration around these topics among colleges and universities in the US," says Angela Halfacre, Shi Center Director and Professor of Political Science and Sustainability Science. "Ultimately, faculty, students, and campus and greater communities can all benefit through the application of sustainability science and full cost analysis. These fields promote us all to be contributors to a sustainable society and provide new, practical ways to train students to tackle the pressing challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."
Dr. Attanasio - in collaboration with the GSU Office of Sustainability - will be running a mini-workshop at the end of October to share information learned at Furman University, and to share her own experience in implementing the module she developed for her Fall 2015 Immunology course. She will also share the results of the assessment she will carry out to evaluate how the introduction of the module will change the students' perception of, and interest in, sustainability issues. The expectation is that, following the October mini-workshop, other GSU faculty across disciplines will offer courses that integrate FCA modules.
Dr. Attanasio said she was interested in participating to the FCA workshop because economic principles are a driving force for sustainable development. She advocates circular economy, and believes FCA is needed to move towards the implementation of circular economy concepts. She said: "I'm looking forward to integrate the FCA module in my Immunology class, as it will provide the basis for the understanding of the relationships between our environment and the immune system, of how daily choices related to the environment can affect our physiological systems and our health. As we move on to integrate sustainability across the curriculum, the FCA module will help students to understand the real extent of our connection with the environment." She added: "I feel fortunate I've been encouraged by the GSU Sustainability Office to participate to the FCA workshop. In particular, Jenni Asman has provided motivation and encouragement through her excitement for sustainability education and her commitment to the development of initiatives related to the integration of sustainability across the curriculum."