Faculty learn strategies for integrating climate justice into courses

On Friday, February 9, faculty from across the university took part in the Climate Justice and Sustainability Across the Curriculum Workshop, a program designed to increase their awareness about issues of climate and environmental justice and give them practical tips for integrating these concepts into their courses, regardless of their discipline.  

Twelve faculty members representing 11 academic departments in 5 colleges spent a full day together in a classroom in the Horn Center learning about the intersections of climate justice and their own student learning outcomes. Bringing their unique perspectives from areas of study including Africana studies, fine art, public policy, marketing, civil engineering, religious studies and more, these faculty took part in engaging discussions and exercises that expanded their conceptions of sustainability in their own fields. “It was great getting to know other instructors who want to incorporate this content into their courses,” one participant commented. “There were different perspectives and backgrounds, all which enhanced my understanding of the topic.”  

faculty doing exercise

The workshop, which is sponsored by the President’s Commission on Sustainability (PCS) and the Office of Sustainability, is co-facilitated by Dr. Kim Kelly and Holli Fajack, the campus sustainability manager. In addition to her role as chair of the department of Human Development, Dr. Kelly also serves as the CLA Commissioner for the PCS, for which she chairs the subcommittee on sustainability in the curriculum.  

During the workshop, faculty also heard a presentation from Laura Gracia from Communities for a Better Environment about the organization’s efforts to address local environmental justice challenges and protect public health. “We always like to bring in a resource speaker to each of the workshops to help bring the concepts to life and tie them to actual action in the community,’ commented Fajack. 

This curriculum-focused workshop is the latest iteration of a program that has been running at CSULB for more than a decade. The Green Thread Workshop was the legacy program that was modeled after the Piedmont and Ponderosa projects and focused on helping faculty learn ways to integrate sustainability into their courses. In line with the PCS and university priorities to center equity and diversity while also recognizing the disproportionate distribution of environmental burdens on low-income people and people of color, CSULB’s current workshop now emphasizes climate justice in addition to more general issues of sustainability.  

faculty in workshop

To date, over 100 faculty have participated in the program, which includes attending a workshop and making changes to an existing course (or developing a new one) to incorporate sustainability and climate justice. A recent inventory of the CSULB course catalog revealed that 49 departments are offering 178 courses that include some sustainability or climate literacy content. The workshops are responsible for a significant proportion of these course modifications. A goal of the PCS is to offer the workshop once per semester to continue this momentum. The PCS has also established a mutually beneficial partnership with the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership, which offers the Ethics Across the Curriculum stipend each spring to support faculty in integrating a module on ethics into their courses. As a result of this collaboration, several faculty have received the $3000 stipend for their efforts to integrate topics related to the ethics of climate and environmental justice into their classes.  

If you are a faculty member who is interested in participating in a future workshop, please contact sustainability@csulb.edu.