Sustainability in Academics

April 6, 2020

Yen Pham, Eco Rep

Caitlin Griffith, Sustainability Coordinator

Community of Engaged Service Learning

UT Dallas has taken advantage of the great potential for growth that sustainability offers within academia. UT Dallas has focused on three actions under this umbrella: increasing the number of sustainability-focused courses, institutionalizing the co-curricular Comets the Core program, and Community of Engaged Service Learning course.

The University is committed to graduating students who are inspired to learn and enthusiastically attend to their duty of building a sustainable environment. We believe education is the propelling force to achieve sustainability goals that can shape the future. Undergraduate and graduate students at our university are able to choose from 193 courses offered over environmental, social, and economic components of sustainability. The courses are available to all university students within any field of study. Some examples of the offered courses are Climate Change in Healthcare, Diversity in the Public Sector, and Economics of Poverty and Inequality.

Comets to the Core

Additionally, through a Quantum Leap grant from the UT System in 2017, the University was able to develop Community of Engaged Service Learning, an interdisciplinary course that aims to teach students about sustainability leadership through experience. The students attend lectures and discussions regarding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). A semester-long course, students learn to apply their knowledge from class to address issues throughout the region by collaborating with a community partner. Last fall, students in the course worked with Wylie ISD to address food waste on high school campuses. The spring 2020 class worked alongside North Texas Food Bank and Childhood Poverty Action Lab to define causes of hunger in the DFW area and provide recommendations for systematic change.

Designed to help students in developing teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, UT Dallas has designed and implemented the Comets to the Core program for freshmen and juniors as a graduation requirement. In the 2018-2019 academic year, water conservation was the topic of research and in the 2019-2020 academic year the selected topic was childhood poverty. Students are to assess the components of each topic and work together with their assigned teams to provide a solution that addresses the issue. Essentially, the project aims to inspire students to think outside the box in order to address global issues in a local context.

 

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