Faculty Conference to focus on advancing sustainability pedagogy and leadership

Conference organizers seek to elevate awareness and practices in higher education to advance pedagogy, content and leadership for sustainability.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The first Sustainability Curriculum Consortium (SCC) Faculty Conference is scheduled for June 26-27 at the Penn State Center in Philadelphia. The organizers seek to elevate awareness and practices in higher education to advance pedagogy, content and leadership for sustainability. The two-day event mixes presentations, workshops and peer-to-peer exchanges on topics including curricular development models, course design practices for sustainability, solar energy development, environmental justice and community-engaged scholarship practices. The conference is cohosted by the Sustainability Curriculum Consortium and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.

A wide array of sustainability leaders are scheduled to present, including staff from the Worldwatch Institute, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and the Northwest Earth Institute, as well as faculty and staff from Penn State, Dickinson College, Ramapo College and a number of other universities.

Faculty will exchange their experiences with their peers while learning from industry and policy practitioners.

“Universities are making headway on a number of sustainability goals involving waste, food, water and energy,” said Peter Buckland, academic programs fellow at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and co-organizer of the conference. “But these issues, like human-caused climate change, aren’t technical issues alone. They require policy, business and art. So we need to integrate holistic approaches into teaching and learning.”

Conference attendees will be welcomed on Monday by Tom Richard, interim director of Penn State's Sustainability Institute, followed by Sarah Wu, deputy director of the City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability, who manages climate-adaptation planning processes and oversees reporting on progress toward goals set in “Greenworks Philadelphia,” the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan. 

Attendees will have the option to participate in local tours and an evening “town hall,” during which participants will share perspectives on the challenges of “Teaching Sustainability in the Trump Era.”

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. Mann holds joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He was part of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which jointly received the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore Jr., and is the author of several books including his most recent work, “The Madhouse Effect,” which features cartoons by Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Tom Toles. 

“This inaugural conference will not only address what sustainability means, the complexity it embraces and what its pedagogy should encompass, but also seeks to bridge the disconnect between the language and practice of sustainability in academia with those of our counterparts in policy and industry,” said Ira Feldman, founder and managing director of SCC, and co-organizer of the conference.

Registration for the conference is available online. Questions about the conference can be sent to Peter Buckland at

Last Updated September 20, 2019