Sustainability and Teaching – Thoughts from the Experts
As courses related to sustainability are gaining popularity among students, ONE Times brings to you the thoughts and ideas of two eminent scholars well-versed with teaching sustainability courses. Prof. Jennifer Griffin, Raymond C. Baumhart, S.J. Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and Professor Strategy, Loyola University Chicago, and Prof. Todd Moss, Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises, Syracuse University, shared their insights with Dr. Youthika Chauhan (UNC-Chapel Hill) from the ONE Communications Team to share the trends in teaching topics of interest to the ONErs.
About the growing popularity of courses related to environmental and societal sustainability, Prof. Moss shared that “There’s an enduring interest across different disciplines. We have students from Business, and also Engineering, Architecture, Environmental Science, Law, Public Policy, Geography […] and it’s continuing!” He also added that there is a wide range of topics students are interested in such as “mobilization and social movements, green technology, climate change” and others. Similarly, the response from Prof. Griffin resonated with this growing demand of sustainability courses as well as the need for inter-disciplinarity. Prof. Griffin’s observation is that “there can't be enough courses offered in enough ways. We are creating Sustainability majors. We are looking at interdisciplinary or inter-school offerings, whether it's more science-based or more management-based. Sustainability is just taking off in so many different ways.”
The professors also shared some teaching tips for our readers who are new to teaching. Prof. Griffin advised new teachers to “let the passion show. And then it's about creating the questions and the opportunity for students’ questions, especially via case discussions. It's a self-reinforcing loop, whether it is a required course or an electives, just create the opportunity to have high level conversations.” Prof. Moss says, “Get to know the names of all the students and their backgrounds […] It builds an atmosphere of trust. Also, I've discovered that often there are unsaid things that they want to talk about that are not necessarily the main reason they came into my office […] So, I give them an opportunity to share more. It's a chance to […] counsel with them about other things that might affect their learning, or their performance in the classroom. If it's very serious things I'll mention that we have counseling services. […] I let them know that I care about them.”
Our invited respondents also shared some great insights about online teaching and innovative techniques they used. Prof. Moss said, “I call on them and ask questions […] That’s more engaging than simply pre-recorded lectures. I also have small quizzes. I've automated them, so that it's harder to cheat. I wrote up a large pool of questions but the quiz is only a small subset of that pool. So, even if they're next to each other, taking a quiz, the likelihood of them having the same question at the same time is just not there.” Prof. Griffin also shared some interesting examples, “thinking differently about engagement is really key. One of the key things that seemed to work really well and the students have really responded quite positively to, is having icebreakers. Not discussion-leaders, but icebreakers who are responsible for responding to a case in writing forums the day before class and then discussing their insights to start the conversation.” She added that “getting experts from the field into the classroom” is another idea that helps engage the students.
The ONE Communications Team is thankful to Profs. Jennifer Griffin and Todd Moss for their valuable experiences. We also hope that our readers enjoy learning from these insights as much as we enjoyed discussing them.