The Prairie Project at UF draws together cohorts of faculty from diverse fields across the university to learn about environmental issues and sustainability. Based on a national program started at Emory University and endorsed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the program kicks off with a multi-day workshop that provides the foundation for the development of new courses or course materials and to build a skill set for leaders in the effort to infuse sustainability concepts into university curricula across the institution.
During the inaugural August 2010 workshop, a professional facilitator led discussions about sustainability, environmental issues, the local Florida/Alachua County ecosystem, and the political, economic, social, philosophical, and ethical dimensions of these issues. Guest lectures, small and large group discussions, and interactive activities help inspire a new group of faculty to integrate sustainability into curriculum.
The lectures, discussions, outdoor time, and workshop materials highlight connections among environmental dimensions of the area, the campus, and broader national and international issues of sustainability. Participants from the program are expected to attend follow-up meetings to report on their progress and share their learning experiences.
The long-term goals of the Prairie Project are:
- “Green the Curriculum” to introduce and reinforce the theme of environmental sustainability throughout students’ educational experiences
- Support and assist faculty in curricular innovation, and promote interaction that enables faculty to collaborate around issues of sustainability
- Provide students with environmental “competencies” that they can take into future leadership roles, such as problem-solving techniques, interdisciplinary research methods, and collaborative skills
- Integrate environmental issues with campus stewardship to gain an understanding that the classroom extends to the entire campus—including facilities, grounds, and the built environment
- Encourage service learning experiences that extend academic studies of environmental sustainability into the community
In May 2011, a group of Prairie Project fellows hosted the a workshop with similar goals for Graduate Students.
The 2014 Prairie Project will take place in early summer. Applications will be available here in February 2014.
For more information on how to get involved with the Prairie Project, contact Stephanie Sutton in our office.