Faculty Development

The Sustainability Initiatives office is working to offer faculty opportunities to connect their teaching and research to the local ecosystem and to colleagues across the disciplines. Some examples of our efforts are profiled below. We welcome your suggestions for future development opportunities.

Interdisciplinary grant proposal facilitation

Many sustainability-related grant opportunities fall outside of traditional disciplinary boundaries, and individual faculty often find it difficult to initiate collaborative proposals across disciplines. Sustainability Initiatives staff have assisted in this process, convening multidisciplinary groups to brainstorm appropriate projects and following through with assistance writing the proposals and figuring out the budgets. The process has resulted in two EPA grants and one NEH grant, so far. Faculty with ideas for interdisciplinary grant proposals are invited to contact Rachel May.

Summer workshop: The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address and traditional ecological knowledge at Onondaga Lake

Under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, a group of faculty from SU and ESF offered a workshop for teachers in August, 2016, to explore a new curriculum that connects traditional or indigenous ecological knowledge (TEK), scientific ecological knowledge (SEK), and the values of gratitude and reciprocity that lie at the heart of Haudenosaunee teachings about the natural world. Several SU faculty members will attend, along with faculty from other colleges, high schools, and middle schools in the Onondaga Lake watershed.

Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program

In Fall, 2015, Syracuse University and Le Moyne College collaborated on a program to bring together faculty from a wide variety of disciplines to discuss climate change and attend a series of events related to climate justice and climate science. The seven Sustainability Faculty Fellows came from Biology, African-American Studies, Food Studies, English, Communications, Religious Studies, and Business Administration. They had the opportunity to attend and discuss a Roundtable with Professors Christiana Peppard (Fordham), Lawrence Tanner (Le Moyne) and Jame Schaefer (Marquette) on the Papal Encyclical on climate change, “Laudato Si'” (LMC); a lecture by Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann (LMC), and a University Lecture on climate justice by Naomi Klein (SU). The SU Sustainability Faculty Fellows were supported by the office of the Vice President for Sustainability Initiatives.  The LMC Fellows were supported by the McDevitt Center.

Sustainability Book Group

In Spring, 2014, Bird Library hosted lunchtime book discussions of faculty publications and books of multidisciplinary interest,  including Lifeblood (2013), by Matt Huber (Geography) and Braiding Sweetgrass (2013) by Robin Wall Kimmerer (ESF-Biology). Faculty are invited to propose future topics.

Local Ecosystem Tours for SU faculty and staff

In Spring, 2013, we hosted a series of tours to acquaint faculty with the urban ecosystem in and around Syracuse. As part of each tour, faculty discussed ways to build the information into their teaching and research.



Faculty and staff were able to tour the Recycle America facility where recyclables are sorted and the Rescue Mission’s huge warehouse for sorting donated items. Both organizations do impressive work reducing waste.




Our first stop was the Honeywell Visitor Center on Onondaga Lake, which provides a real-time view of cleanup activity and information about efforts to restore surrounding streams and vegetation.


Then we toured the impressive green roof at the Syracuse  Center of Excellence and visited several rain gardens, porous pavement installations, and other examples of “green infrastructure” that is diverting storm water out of the overtaxed sewer system.


Many people are trying to “eat local,” but access to fresh, local food can be a challenge in urban areas. Prof. Evan Weissman from Food Studies gave us an overview of the efforts of Syracuse Grows to build community and help local populations secure land, materials, and skills to build and maintain urban food gardens. After that, we visited the Regional Market for a very informative discussion with director Ben Vitale about the history and future of that institution.