Infusion of Sustainability and Resilience into Curriculum

A close-up of a huge sunflower bloom - a field of sunflowers in the background extend to the horizon.

Sunflowers in field near Minneapolis, KS. July 8, 2012. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

As part of UN-L's Environment, Sustainability and Resilience Master Plan, the UNL Sustainability Initiative seeks 20 instructors who want to infuse sustainability and resilience concepts into their courses. Sustainability is a framework which aligns with the institutional objectives for ACE 8, that is, for students to interact with diverse cultures and engage with global issues. Teachers who address the challenges and solutions to living sustainably and creating resilient systems can connect students to societal issues, including human population growth, increased resource needs, and human impacts on the environment, all of which align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and relate to issues of environmental justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. Infusion will involve the use of pedagogical approaches that will benefit student learning and empower students to think about systems, their individual and social responsibility, and the use of spatial and temporal reasoning in their decision making.

Participants will use five monthly, two-hour workshops to create curricular materials that will incorporate sustainability and DEI competencies into a discipline-specific current course plan during the Academic Year 2024-2025. The spring 2024 Workshops will take place on Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 15, April 19, and May 10. Workshops will be facilitated by Dave Gosselin in collaboration with the Center for Transformative Teaching.

The Infusion of Sustainability and Resilience into Curriculum program was created in support of the Environment, Sustainability, and Resilience Master Plan created by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Plan creates a culture of leadership and integrates natural and human capital to address important societal challenges related to the sustainability and resiliency of environmental systems, especially those related to climate change.


Workshops will take place during the spring 2024 term on Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 15, April 19, and May 10. For more information about this program, please contact David Gosselin.

This workshop provided foundational knowledge on sustainability and the opportunity to lay the groundwork for embedding sustainability & resilience concepts into the curriculum of my 200-level lecture class.

Program Goals

  1. Increase sustainability and resilience literacy among UNL students.
  2. Connect students and faculty to social issues at the local to international levels.
  3. Create a community of faculty who have improved knowledge and awareness of sustainability, resilience, DEI, and social justice issues.
  4. Create work, learning, and service environments that promote a mindset that every student can reach their full potential.

The primary outcome of the program is an activity, unit, or module that incorporates sustainability and DEI competencies into a discipline-specific current course plan. Another important outcome is the expansion of a community of faculty who have knowledge and awareness of sustainability and resilience that can be shared with others.

Program participants use student-centered pedagogy to integrate sustainability and resilience concepts into curricular experiences. Participants will add new material to a growing curricular portfolio that includes a range of disciplines including but not limited to: Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design; Political Science, Geography, French, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Engineering Management, Chemical Engineering, Natural Resources, and Philosophy.

One or more of the following student learning outcomes will be integrated into a current course. Students will be able to:

  • Define sustainability and resilience; explain how sustainability relates to their discipline, their lives, and values;
  • Identify how their actions impact issues of DEI, sustainability and resilience;
  • Utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality
  • Apply concepts of DEI to their community

“I appreciated the material on active learning. Think-pair-shares, minute papers, collaborative documents, and wrappers are activities I have brought into the classroom. I hope to explore others to support student learning and engagement. Thank you for offering something new to explore in my pedagogical work.

Program Experience

Participants use four two-hour workshops to create curricular materials that include assessment rubrics. These materials are deployed in courses the next time they are taught. Instructors convene at the end of the term to present the outcomes of their activities. Products from these modules are featured in Nebraska Today, archived in the Digital Commons, and made available to the community through the Chancellor’s Environment, Sustainability, and Resilience Commission (CESRC). This program is part of the ongoing activities of the CESRC.

I identified a network of instructors at UNL that are knowledgeable and passionate about sustainability. Meeting with and forming a professional relationship was one of the most valuable things that came out of this workshop, in addition to curriculum materials. I know we will continue to support one another over time.


Faculty in many different disciplines designed and developed approaches for integrating sustainability and resilience into their courses. These reports summarize their activities, projects, and assessments that fulfilled the requirements for the Infusion of Sustainability and Resilience into Curriculum program. The reports serve as a resource for others seeking to infuse their own courses with sustainability and resilience-themed approaches.

AY 2021-2022
Ethics of Sustainability in Society by Heather Akin, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication
Infusion Sustainability Report by Stacy Asher, School of Art, Art History and Design
Sustainability and Resiliency of Construction Materials by Congrui Grace Jin, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Sustainable Food Product Development by Jooyeoun Jung, Department of Food Science and Technology
Sustainability in Mechanical Engineering Design by Kurt Palik, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Introduction to Sustainability and Resilience Concepts by Mark P. Vrtiska, School of Natural Resources
Infusing Sustainability and Resilience Concepts into Soil Resources Online by Becky Young, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture
AY 2020-2021
Infusing Sustainability Concepts throughout a Plant and Landscape Systems Course by Sam Wortman, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture
Aquatic Insects in the Context of Sustainability by L. Lynch-O'Brien, Department of Entomology
Sustainable Process Design by Yaşar Demirel, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Sustainability in Elementary STEM Teaching: Understanding Flooding and Flood Mitigation by Amanda Thomas, Tammera Mittelstet and Amy Bauer Sokoll, Department of Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education
Topic Examinations of Sustainability and/or Resilience Within the Four Spheres of Physical Geography by Michael Shambaugh-Miller, Department of Geography
Infusion Sustainability Report by Jena Shafai Asgarpoor, College of Engineering
Creative Projects: How Can the Humanities Help? by Julia Frengs, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Studio Case Study and Course Design by Adam Thompson, Department of Philosophy
Community Sustainability Project by Katherine Nashleanas, Department of Geography
The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus by Cory Forbes, Department of Science Education