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Mason Sustainability Studies Fellow

The Sustainability Studies Fellow promotes sustainability scholarship and curricula across Mason’s academic units through a two-year, half time position in the Office of the Provost.

Specific tasks include:

  1. Developing and implementing an action plan for the Vision for Sustainability in Academic Endeavors at Mason;
  2. Chairing the Sustainability Studies Advisory Council (SSAC) while participating in pertinent Mason-wide committees*;
  3. Communicating current curricular efforts in sustainability;
  4. Supporting faculty and curriculum development activities surrounding sustainability issues;
  5. Coordinating the development of interdisciplinary sustainability research and scholarly programs;
  6. Coordinating internal and external communications and marketing efforts regarding courses and programs in sustainability;
  7. Assisting with integration of coursework in this area with existing and potential majors, minors, certificates, and general education; and
  8. Working with University Life, Facilities and other Mason vice presidents’ sustainability efforts to promote co-curricular activities.

The Fellow’s activities and perspectives are shared on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/sustainabilitystudies). The Fellow can also be contacted via email at: sustainu@gmu.edu.

Present and past fellows and their notable accomplishments are presented below.

Andrew Wingfield (Associate Professor, New Century College) serves as the Sustainability Studies Fellow for the 2012-2014 term. Prof. Wingfield, a past recipient of Mason’s Teaching Excellence Award (2006) and Sustainability Hero Award (2009), has helped  to foster sustainability in George Mason’s curriculum and culture for over five years.  He was part of the first cohort of faculty members who participated in the Provost-sponsored Sustainability across the Curriculum faculty development workshop in 2007.  The course he developed with the support of that program, Sustainable World, now helps anchor the core curricula of both the Sustainability Studies Minor (SSM) and the BA program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESS).  In 2008, he co-facilitated the second iteration of the Sustainability across the Curriculum faculty development workshop.  He has since facilitated various faculty showcases focused on teaching and learning in sustainability studies, and has presented on sustainability academics at Mason’s Innovations in Teaching and Learning symposium and elsewhere.  Prof. Wingfield has taken the lead in bringing acclaimed sustainability authors to Fall for the Book to expose members of the Mason community to the words and ideas of bold thinkers working at the leading edge of sustainability studies.  He was the founding director of Mason’s innovative BA program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and currently coordinates the Sustainability Living Learning Community (SLLC) in Piedmont Hall on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

Dann Sklarew (Environmental Science and Policy) served as the FoSS for the 2010-2012 term. Dr. Sklarew received Mason’s Sustainability Hero Award and a university Teaching Excellence Award in 2010, then was featured in Mason’s Sustainability Spotlight for April 2011. During his term, Mason:

[Vision:]

  1. Solicited insights, drafted and secured Provost approval for the Vision for Sustainability in Academic Endeavors at Mason.

[SSAC:]

  1. Formally launched the Sustainability Studies Advisory Council (SSAC) by agreement of three deans (College of Science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Volgenau School of Engineering), since expanded to include the School of Public Policy, the School of Management, and the College of Education and Human Development.

[Communicating curricular efforts:]

  1. Received national recognition for its sustainability achievements among:
    – Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges
    – First 40 in nation to receive STARS Silver sustainability designation from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
    – Top 100 of America’s Coolest Schools (2011), Sierra’s ranking of the greenest colleges in the United States.
  2. Created the “green leaf” sustainability studies designation for over a dozen academic programs and scores of courses focused on or related to sustainability.
  3. Began highlighting pertinent academic programs and courses with the “Sustainable Mason” green leaf seal in Mason’s 2011/2012 course catalog and Sustainability Studies web sites.
  4. Created and maintained Facebook pages for George Mason University Sustainability Studies and the FoSS, along with [ongoing] overhaul of Sustainability Studies and Office of Sustainability web sites.
  5. Featured (and featuring) the university’s sustainability curriculum achievement and opportunities at the fall 2010 and 2011 Innovations in Teaching and Learning conference at Fairfax campus — and at the fall 2011
    AASHE national conference.
  6. Committed to ongoing AASHE STARS membership and annual reporting.

[Faculty and curriculum development:]

  1. Launched the Energy and Sustainability concentration of the Masters of Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS).
  2. Created a new undergraduate Ecological Sustainability course (EVPP 378).
  3. Assessed impacts of 2007-2008 sustainability studies faculty workshops on Mason curricula.
  4. Organized a “cultivating climate change across our curriculum” forum, featuring Prof. Jagadish Shulka (co-author and member of the Nobel Peace Laureate IPCC), CAMEL Climate Change director, Ms. Virginia Brown, and Mason Environmental Action Group coordinator, Mr. Daniel Stock.

[Sustainability research and scholarly programs:]

  1. Invited all faculty to participate in a Sustainability Research and/or Study Group, as part of September 2011 “Sustainability at Mason” email from the Provost.
  2. Submitted a large, interdisciplinary NSF (IGERT) proposal, the “Program on Climate Change Adaptation Science, Policy and Governance,” to support doctoral research into sustainability-related challenges.
  3. Arranged for five graduate students (from three academic units) to serve as sustainability research assistants at nearby corporations.
  4. Formed a faculty group on community-based action research.

[Communications and marketing efforts:]

  1. Produced two sustainability studies promotional videos, one video by the Office of Admissions, another video by students of Sustainability in Action, the undergraduate sustainability studies capstone course.
  2. Began recruiting undergraduate students for Mason’s new Environmental and Sustainability Studies B.A., Environmental Science B.S., and Sustainability Studies Minor academic programs, including outreach via the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment and area secondary school science teachers, along with “in-reach” through sustainability-focussed undergraduate courses.
  3. Registered as a charter member of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System(STARS) in 2010.
  4. Produced a 225 pp. sustainability self-assessment report to earn Mason the AASHE STARS Silver designation in 2011.
  5. Opted to participate in annual updates to AASHE STARS assessments in 2012.
  6. Joined Academic Impact, a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in actively supporting ten universally accepted principlesin the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution in early 2012.
  7. Signed the Declaration of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in April 2012 in order to join the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative for Rio+20.
  8. Prepared letter of commitment from incoming President Cabrera for Mason to participate in the United Nations Global Compact Academic Network, implementing the ten principles of the Global Compact at Mason and offering to collaborate as a strategic partner in the progress of the initiative.
  9. Received the 2012 Green Innovation Award for  the Most Sustainable Community Program from the Virginia Sustainable Building Network.

[Integration of coursework:]

  1. Incorporated sustainability into update of learning outcomes for all undergraduates’ general education requirement for natural science.
  2. Recruited Mason’s first graduate assistant focused specifically on sustainability studies.
  3. Worked to develop a potential undergraduate minor in Sustainable Enterprise Management (coming soon!) and graduate program in sustainability and environmental education (coming later).

[Co-curricular activities:]

  1. Co-organized and arranged Mason experts and others to present at a monthly “Managing Our Planet” series at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars (Spring 2011 through Spring 2012), with Mason undergraduate and graduate students live participation.
  2. Created a Sustainability Studies Living and Learning Community in one of Mason’s new residence halls.
  3. Twice awarded the Storm Sustainability Scholarship.
  4. Launched the Patriot Green Fund to promote sustainable infrastructure and sustainability scholarship among students and their supporters at Mason.
  5. Created the Mason Sustainability Institute, with support from the Dominion Foundation, to provide sustainability skills development training to the Northern Virginia community.
  6. Hired new full-time Office of Sustainability staff to support the university’s co-curricular and extra-curricular sustainability activities.
  7. Delivered the biggest and best Mason Earth Week ever, with over 40 activities and events involving hundreds of patriots across three Mason campuses throughout the month of April 2011.
  8. Hosted the university’s first “Innovation for Sustainability Showcase” at Fairfax campus during Mason Earth Week 2011.
  9. Organized the first two annual Arlington Earth Week Community Fairs at Mason’s new Founders Hall.
  10. Organized the kick-off event for Mason’s new Sustainability Studies Society student group, featuring Professors Jack Goldstone (SPP) and Thomas Lovejoy (ESP), during Mason Earth Week 2011.
  11. Co-hosted “the UVA Bay Game,” a Chesapeake Bay watershed stewardship simulation played in real-time across three states’ universities’ campuses.
  12. Organized “Northern Virginia Greenhouse Gas Inventories,” including presentation by Prof. Sklarew, as networking event among Mason students and professionals of the local Air & Water Management Association chapter (September 15).
  13. Hosted nationally-acclaimed authors for Mason Earth Week (Mark Hertsgaard, at two campuses) and Fall for the Book (John Calderazzo and SueEllen Campbell, at Fairfax campus, September 20) in 2011.
  14. Made plans to host the third event of “Steady as She Goes,” a series exploring of sustainability with programs about our planet, how people fit in, and the challenge of creating a green economy (Arlington campus, October 24).
  15. Delivered the Sustainable Living Road Show (Fairfax campus) and  Trash-free Potomac Watershed Summit (Arlington campus) on October 19, 2011.
  16. Featured over 45 events and activities across our campuses for month-long Mason Earth Week 2012.
  17. Created and awarded the first Arlington Green Patriot Award to Potomac Overlook Chief Naturalist Martin Ogle at the 2012 Arlington Earth Week Community Fair.
  18. Implemented Operation Rain Barrel competition and silent auction to raise scholarship support for Arlington County school kids at the 2012 Arlington Earth Week Community Fair.
  19. Delivered Mason’s a flash lecture on climate adaptation for Virginia, telecast on Fox 5 evening and 10 o’clock news (April 19,2012).

The FoSS has been a proponent, adviser, leader and/or partner for each of these endeavors.

 

During 2007-2009, Dr. Sharon deMonsabert (Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering) served in a formative, precursory role as Mason’s Fellow of Sustainability Curricula. During her term, she laid the groundwork for the SSAC, new sustainability academic programs noted above, sustainability research assistantships at local businesses and, among other contributions, launched the sustainability studies web site.
* Other pertinent ongoing committees (roles) include: the Storm Sustainability Scholarship Selection Committee (as chair); the Patriot Green Fund Selection Committee (as faculty co-chair); and (as member) the Provost’s Academic Council, the Executive Steering Committee for Sustainability, the Advisory Council for the Mason Sustainability Institute, and Mason Earth Week campus and university-wide planning committees.

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