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Strategic Plan for Environmental Studies

Context For Planning

The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program promotes learning and practical action to discover and establish more sustainable practices in our relations with the earth and with our communities. 


The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Major (B.A. and B.S.) provides a broad interdisciplinary education for students who wish to develop effective, practical ways to address sustainability and environmental concerns. The program prepares students to work as sustainability professionals and advocates in industry, government, education, public service, the non-profit sector, and in other settings. 

The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor provides a broad interdisciplinary education for students in any major. The program prepares students to develop effective, practical ways to address sustainability and environmental concerns. 

The Undergraduate Sustainable Food Systems Certificate provides degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students the knowledge and skills needed to strengthen local and regional food systems as a necessary part of building healthy local communities.

Mission

The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program promotes learning and practical action to discover and establish more sustainable practices in our relations with the earth and with our communities. 


The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Major (B.A. and B.S.) provides a broad interdisciplinary education for students who wish to develop effective, practical ways to address sustainability and environmental concerns. The program prepares students to work as sustainability professionals and advocates in industry, government, education, public service, the non-profit sector, and in other settings. 

The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor provides a broad interdisciplinary education for students in any major. The program prepares students to develop effective, practical ways to address sustainability and environmental concerns. 

The Undergraduate Sustainable Food Systems Certificate provides degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students the knowledge and skills needed to strengthen local and regional food systems as a necessary part of building healthy local communities.

Vision

Guided by the ideals of liberal education, the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program furthers the mission of the University and of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies by serving as the nexus for transformative interdisciplinary teaching, engaged learning, and exemplary scholarship for GVSU and the larger community. 


The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program:
  • Facilitates and fosters collaborative, interdisciplinary teaching and learning about environmental and sustainability issues
  • Models inclusion and change for the university, by connecting with local, national and global communities through environmental and sustainability projects and partnerships
  • Creates, promotes, and supports experiential service-learning and civic engagement opportunities
  • Encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research involving faculty and students from various departments and colleges, as well as community partners

Value Statement

Faculty, staff, and students in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program value:

  • Interdisciplinary liberal education that effectively integrates social and cultural perspectives, the physical and life sciences, and economic and political perspectives on research and problem solving
  • Transdisciplinary and transacademic approaches to learning, teaching, and research, including methods that involve systematic community engagement
  • Experiential, topical- and solutions-oriented, and place-based learning
  • A culture of collegiality and collaboration
  • Building communities that ensure sustainable development and environmental justice 
  • Cultural diversity, civic discourse, and democratic communities
  • International perspectives and experiences

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

Reach ongoing enrollment of at least 160 students in a new undergraduate Environmental and Sustainability Studies BA and BS program.

Baseline

Winter 2016: New program proposal is in development; no students in major

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
New program approved by GVSU Board of Trust in February; became available to students in early June. As of 1 February 2020, Banner shows: • 71 Environmental and Sustainability Studies majors (BA: 19, BS: 52) • 116 ENS minors: o 97 Environmental Studies minors (pre-June 2019 program) o 19 Environmental and Sustainability Studies minors (post-June 2019 program)

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
New program proposal approved by UCC in September 2018. GVSU Board of Trust will vote on the proposal in February 2019.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

Increase by 20% the number of students involved in the program who are members of historically underrepresented groups within the U.S., or who are of non-U.S. origin.

Baseline

Winter 2016: Number of students who are members of historically underrepresented groups within the U.S., or are of non-U.S. origin All GVSU Undergraduate Students (20,594 in data set): American Indian/Alaskan Native 82/0.4%, 1140/5.2% Black, 448/2.0% Asian, 1050/4.8% Hispanic, 84/0.4% NA, 282/1.3% Non-resident international ENS minors (98 total in data set): American Indian/Alaskan Native: 1/1%, Black, 2/2% Asian, 4/4% Hispanic, 3/3% NA, 0/0% Non-resident international

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
The number of students in historically underrepresented groups increased slightly, from 13 to 18.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
Numbers decreased from 15 to 13

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 2.B.1

Add at least two faculty and staff involved in the program (i.e., as Advisory Board members, as jointly appointed faculty, as new faculty, or as borrowed faculty to teach classes), especially those who are members of historically underrepresented groups within the U.S., or who are of non-U.S. origin, and/or those whose academic expertise lies beyond the disciplines presently involved in the program.

Baseline

Winter 2016: Winter 2016 number of faculty and staff currently involved in the program: 19.3 total [1 program director, 15 Advisory Board, 3 other instructors (1 TT, 1 affiliate, 1 adjunct), 0.3 PSS]

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
1 new hire with TT joint appointment (50%), 2 new adjunct instructors, 2 additional seats to Advisory Board. Negotiated a new joint appointment (50%) agreement for a long-time "borrowed faculty member, effective Fall 2020. Renegotiated a previous joint appointment to increase ENS portion from 33% to 50%.

2018 Status
Substantive Progress
Several new faculty have become involved in the program, but this is largely balanced by upcoming resignations and retirements.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 2.C.1

Establish four new ongoing partnerships with local and state government entities, public and non-profit environmental agencies and programs, and/or the private sector so as to promote the program's distinctive integration of interdisciplinary perspectives (social and cultural studies, physical and life sciences, and political and economic studies) as a means to understand and address environmental and sustainability issues.

Baseline

Winter 2016: Existing external partnerships include: The GVSU-Consumers Energy Solar Garden Seeds of Promis Urban Sustainable Agriculture Project

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
11 new contacts, including 4 established partnerships

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Five new partnerships reported

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 2.D.1

Improve and deepen faculty expertise in the distinctive areas within interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability studies (food systems, energy and climate change, water quality, and the built environment) so that at least 6 associated faculty have teaching and/or scholarly expertise in each of these areas.

Baseline

Winter 2016: 20 faculty are associated with ENS as instructors or advisory board members. Among them, teaching and/or scholarly expertise in the four areas is as follows: Food systems: 9 Energy and climate: 4 Water quality: 4 Built environment: 8

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
24 points, with 50% of relevant faculty unreported

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
N/A. We will conduct another survey and post an update in 2020

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 3.A.1

Establish four new partnerships or collaborations with other GVSU departments so as to promote the program's distinctive integration of interdisciplinary perspectives (social and cultural studies, physical and life sciences, and political and economic studies) as a means to understand and address environmental and sustainability issues.

Baseline

Winter 2016 partnerships include: Faculty joint appointment with Honors College & inclusion of Honors Course in ENS electives Departments including courses inj the ENS Summer Experience program: ANT, BIO, BMS, GEO, GPY, HST, HTM, LIB, PA, SW

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
11 new internal partnerships

2018 Status
Substantive Progress
Ten new internal partnerships reported

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 3.C.1

Establish five new regular contacts and/or formal agreements with other regional higher education programs in environmental and sustainability.

Baseline

Winter 2016: Current agreement with Ottawa Area Independent School District's Careerline Tech Center; Northwestern Michigan Colege and North Central Michigan College agreements in process; initial connection with University of Michigan's "Semester in Detroit" (1 ENS student participating Fall 2016)

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
Actively collaborating with a faculty member at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey (NCMC) to plan a summer field school on Beaver Island. Omitted from previous years: ENS students have participated in University of Michigan Semester in Detroit program.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
No additional progress to report

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 3.D.1

Secure and staff space for classrooms, offices, laboratory space, meeting space, and support facilities for the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program as it undergoes anticipated growth; perhaps combine with new facilities to support the Sustainable Agriculture Project.

Baseline

Winter 2016: ENS exists in shared office space and 0.3 PSS support in 239 Lake Ontario Hall

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
PSS increased from 0.35 to 0.50. Began using LOH 179, the Innovation Lab, as a classroom for ENS 401 classes. Began using perching space in the Office of Sustainability Practices suite in January 2020. This space will be available for program director perching use on an ongoing basis. Significant improvements to the Sustainable Agriculture Project – Luce Street site: parking, walkways, drainage and access were all upgraded.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
No additional progress to report

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 3.E.1

Establish an appropriate administrative entity within Brooks College to house the ENS academic programs, as well as co-curricular and other initiatives

Baseline

Winter 2016: ENS is a program with a minor and an undergraduate certificate, with an appointed Director, sharing PSS and office space with another program in Brooks College. Administratively, ENS has no faculty with primary appointment to the program.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
Adopted ENS Unit Personnel Guidelines. Brooks College Dean’s Office commenced an internal search for a new ENS director, to start in Fall 2020. The search follows procedures recently adopted by the College for unit head searches.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
No additional progress to report

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 4.C.1

The program will be recognized across GVSU and in the broader community as a respected educational resource for understanding and addressing environmental and sustainability issues, through active faculty and student involvement in six new internal or external projects and initiatives annually.

Baseline

Winter 2016: currently involved in major initiatives in urban sustainable agriculture (Seeds of Promise--Grand Rapids) and alternative energy education (GVSU-Consumers Power solar garden--Allendale), as well as six to eight student community engagement projects annually through the ENS Capstone courses

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
19 student projects reported in ENS classes (several instructors did not respond with number of class projects). Program hosted 3 "Meet the Faculty" events featuring faculty from other GVSU programs/colleges.

2018 Status
Substantive Progress
28 student projects reported in ENS classes, including cross-listed courses (several instructors did not respond with number of class projects)

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 4.D.1

Continually refine and disseminate the distinctive features of the program as best practices for environmental and sustainability education through at least two additional faculty or student presentations, conferences, workshops, awards, and/or publications in a variety of media each year.

Baseline

Winter 2016: Annual radio appearance on WGVU "Morning Show," annual Environmental and Sustainability Showcase event (Winter semester), 1-2 faculty publications or conference presentations about the program

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
1 monograph published, 1 edited collection published, 7 articles/book chapters, 2 conference presentations about the ENS program, 2 other conference presentations, 1 collaborative interdisciplinary project commenced, 1 workshop hosted (Not all faculty responded)

2018 Status
Substantive Progress
3 public/media events, 6 presentations, 4 publications, 1 award reported (not all ENS faculty responded)

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