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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Curriculum Development: First Annual Prairie Project Workshop Held

While most of campus was on summer vacation, a small group of dedicated faculty participated in UF's first annual Prairie Project Workshop. The two-day event drew together 28 faculty from diverse fields across the university (and Santa Fe College) to learn about environmental issues and sustainability. Based on a national program started at Emory University, and endorsed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the program was designed to provide the foundation for the development of new courses or course materials and to build a skill set for leaders in the effort to infuse sustainability concepts into university curricula.

During the two-day workshop a professional facilitator led discussions about sustainability, environmental issues, the local Florida/Alachua County ecosystem, and the political, economic, social, philosophical, and ethical dimensions of these issues. Local resource experts provided information on local ecology, public health, environmental justice, and an overview of campus environmental efforts. The lectures, discussions, outdoor time, and workshop materials highlighted connections among these issues, the campus, and broader national and international issues of sustainability.

At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant was asked to develop a work plan and become a sustainability resource person within their college. Throughout the school year, Prairie Project fellows will attend follow-up meetings to report on their progress and share their experience integrating sustainability into the curriculum at UF.