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Handout: 2019-2020 Teachers Talking Series Sustainable Practices at Work

Questions to Consider: 

  1. What do we mean by “Sustainability” in our work? 
  • We generally understand what “ecological sustainability” means. How would we like to define sustainability for our work practices? Do we have a clear sense of what it would mean? Do we need to be “near the brink” to get action as has been the case for environmental issues? 
  1. What are some ways in which we can be aware of the sustainability of our own individual practices?
  • Is there an equivalent of a carbon footprint for our work? What could we learn from a systematic inventory of our individual practices? (see sample inventory for ideas). Are there things that you are doing now that you don’t think you can continue long-term? 
  • The College explicitly values consistent improvement and experimentation in our teaching and work with students. This requires freeing “mental bandwidth”, which may be challenging even with more money and faculty development programs.  How might the expectation for experimentation and innovation shape the sustainability of our individual practices?
  • What role does joy play in the sustainability of your day to day practices? What about creativity? 
  1. What are some ways in which the College can support sustainability in our practices? What current structures or cultural norms influence the ways in which we manage short-term resources? 
  • Is there a way for the College to communicate to faculty and staff at all levels that “your success is important to us”? Where is this currently happening on campus? Where is it not happening? 
  • What campus policies or cultural norms serve as barriers to sustainable work? 
  • How might the structure of our personnel evaluations influence the long-term sustainability of our practices? Do these structures align with the messages we receive about success?

Take Home Messages and Action Plan

One of the goals for all programs in the Teachers Talking Series on Sustainability is to generate specific strategies or action plans to build upon our discussions. As we begin this year’s programming, please take a few minutes to complete the prompts on the index cards you were given. 

Index Cards

Personal Commitment (orange)- Choose one area in which you would like to address the sustainability of your personal work on a daily basis. Identify a specific behavior that might represent a small but attainable step toward greater sustainability in this area (e.g., no email for 1 hour/day; meditate for 10 minutes; take a walk across campus, read 1 non-essential article per day). Consider how this behavior contributes to your long-term goals. Make a commitment to changing this behavior and post this card somewhere visible in your office or home.
Institutional Commitment (green) – Choose one area in which the College could make changes to better support sustainability in our professional practices. Make a specific suggestion and hand this card in before you leave. We will share these suggestions with relevant constituencies and decision-makers across campus.

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