UT Dallas and Trinity River Audubon Center Collaborate on Sustainability

December 13, 2021


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In 2017, The University of Texas at Dallas received a $1M Quantum Leap grant from The University of Texas System to take a bold step towards improving student success. UT Dallas used it to help create service-learning programs, which offered students an opportunity to engage with their local communities as part of their education. Several years later, the category of courses started from that initial UT System investment are still benefitting UTD students and the DFW Metroplex.

One of the latest is UNIV 3310: Intersectional Environmentalism Through Habitat Restoration and Service Learning. This course is taught by Gary Cocke, director of sustainability and energy conservation, and an important part of it happens at the nearby Trinity River Audubon Center (TRAC [Trinity River Audubon Center] ). As with the University, the TRAC contains one of the last, fragmented, fragile remains of the original Texas Blackland Prairie eco-region.

As part of UNIV 3310, class lectures, reading assignments and discussions on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are paired with hands-on habitat restoration on an acre of the TRAC [Trinity River Audubon Center] . Students learn about prairie ecology, native bird habitat, invasive species, the value of this ecosystem and the Center’s years-long work to restore it. More broadly, the class teaches about the environmental, social, economic and policy dimensions of sustainability issues, how these issues manifest locally and how students can impact their local community while advancing global sustainability priorities.


The Office of Sustainability’s mission is to engage the UT Dallas community as a catalyst and champion for environmental stewardship and social responsibility while fostering a culture of sustainability evident in all aspects of the campus experience.


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