MVLA: Sustainability Scholars Program

Nine years ago, Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) developed and continues to offer an award winning, rigorous faculty professional development program to infuse sustainability-related content throughout and across disciplines. It is call the Sustainability Scholars Program (SSP), formerly called Greening Your Curriculum (SSP). During the SSP, using face to face and online teaching methods, faculty develop new curriculum and projects that involve students in real-world problem solving for sustainability. The program is available to all faculty and participation from the diverse faculty and departments is encouraged. To date, faculty from the following departments are participating: Biology, Environmental Science, Nursing, Medical Record Technician, HVAC, Art, Theater, Political Science, Nutrition, Early Childhood Education, College Preparedness, History, Mathematics, Developmental Math, Developmental Reading, Sociology, Communications, Speech, Literature and more.

The major goals of the Sustainability Scholars Program are to:

  • allow faculty the space to internalize the true meaning of sustainability and determine, through a wide variety of resources, how sustainability connects to her or his curricula,
  • introduce faculty to each other as content resources,
  • explore the entire campus as a classroom,
  • focus on the value of reflection in the infusion of sustainability across all disciplines,
  • create a wave of learners who are not only well-informed about sustainability, but are creative systems thinkers ready to tackle an unknown future with strength and optimism, and
  • provide students with an edge in the job market by holistically understanding sustainability and being able to apply that in their chosen career field.

The SSP program’s professional development opportunities range from one- to three-hour face-to-face activities, a wide variety of four-hour online workshops, a series of six-hour online workshops, and the 20-hour face-2-face Prairie Project. This 20-hour intensive reflective Prairie Project workshop serves as the culmination of the SSP faculty professional development program and finalizes the process to infuse sustainability across an entire course or several courses. SSP graduate faculty are noted as Sustainability Scholars. 

This program has been created, taught and facilitated by Michelle Zurawski, with support from the Moraine Valley Learning Academy (MVLA), and supported and coordinated by the Center for Sustainability (Stephenie Presseller – Sustainability Manager). The MVLA provides a comprehensive faculty professional development program on a variety of teaching and learning topics as a substantial component of the college’s Center for Teaching and Learning – which provides professional development for the entire college. As the SSP program has grown, the college’s Center for Sustainability has also provided support by coordinating initiatives/activities, establishing a resource library, making connections to student organizations, bringing sustainability education to the greater community, and seeking/managing external funding to support the faculty committing to the program.

To date, over 80 MVCC faculty members have participated in the SSP program teaching one or more course sections infused with sustainability, reaching hundreds of students each semester and thousands since the program began. Faculty continue to voluntarily participate in the program.

In addition, SSP program training was made available to a 12-member consortium of colleges and universities, the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium (SMHEC) established to pursue common interests and resolve common challenges – one of which is sustainability. Michelle Zurawski has taught sections of the online six-week SSP workshops for a selected group of faculty from member institutions. This has extended the SSP project’s scope, reach and impact, and has also established a local community of peers that provide each other with encouragement and resources. Representatives of that SMHEC group that have participated in MVCC’s Prairie Project, further solidifying the community of peers and access to local resources. Other colleges around Illinois have also participated in the SSP series and have also created sustainability infusion programs at their home institutions.

Greening Your Curriculum 101: Intro to Greening Your Curriculum

Assignment Title Author
Linear modeling and Predictions: How warm is too warm? Paula DeAnda-Shah
Sustainability Assignment (Earth Science Course) James L. Baker
Cool The Pharmacy Through Ventilation Stevan Brasel
Sustainability and Ethical Theory (PHI 125 Ethics course) Jeff Christ
Sustainability Assignment (English Course) Churney
The Topic of Sustainability in Art Melissa Csoke
Ecocriticism (Introduction to Fiction Course) Thomas Dow
Group Oral Presentation on Sustainability in Spanish 2 Rachael Fedor
Sustainability Assignment for Managerial Accounting Joe Flynn
Environmental Racism (GEO 101 course) Daniel Grafton
Debunking Climate Change Myths Tish Hayes
Creative Research Essay: Creating a Sustainable Food Business Bill Hogan
Volunteering (Reading 071 course) Jennifer Lee
How Much Waste do YOU Create in a Year? (College Algebra course) Erin Kelly
Biomes and Types of Ecosystems Project Neil Kirkpatrick
Personal Item Inventory (Sociology 101 course) Jeffrey McCully
Renewable Forms of Energy Group Presentations (Introduction to Physical Science course) Steve Merriman
Collaboration Course Project: Project Introduction (COM 102 course) Laura Mita
The Water Cycle and Us (General Biology I course) Scott Murdoch
Climate Change and Political Geography (International Relations and Political Science course) Kevin Navratil
Sustainability Persuasive Speech (Fundamentals of Public Speaking course) Amanda Pettigrew
Human Sustainability (BIO 180 course) Peter Porter
Sustainable Nation (Conversational Spanish course) Lee Rincon
Has “Gas” Ever Been Sustainable? An analysis and contextualization of Georg Kaiser’s Gas Trilogy (, Introduction to Dramatic Literature) Craig Rosen
Sustainability and State and Local Governance (Political Science 115 course) Deron Schreck
Sustainability Garbage Assignment (Developmental Mathematics course) Craig Slocum
Literature and “Real Life”: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Hurricane Katrina (African American Literature course) Amani Wazwaz
Marketing Case Study (Business, Ethics & Documentation) Kathy Wellman
Sustainability with Globalization as a Theme (World Regional Geography course) Dawn Wrobel
Green Washing their Fallacies (Introduction to Critical Thinking course) Mary Barney
Sustainability Assignment Panshula Ganeshan

Greening Your Curriculum 201: Eco-Literacy and Local Connections

Assignment Title Author
Survey of MVCC Students and Staff (ESL 059 course) Latifa Ali
Demand Controlled Ventilation by CO2 Measurement (Heating and Air course) Stevan Brasel
Students and Sustainability (Composition II course) Joanne Bugyie
Art and Ecology (Art Appreciation course) Melissa Csoke
Induction Lab (Electricity and Magnetism course) Jennene Fields
Reflective Essay (Composition I course) Bill Hogan
MVCC Tree Inventory Study (Biology I course) Neil Kirkpatrick
Using Cross-Cultural Models to Motivate Students to Practice Sustainability Where They Are At (Intensive English Language course) Ellen Leahy
Water Flow Net Model (Physical Geology course) Nabil Kanja
Campus Sustainability Fieldtrip (Contemporary Social Problems course) Jeffrey McCully
Experiment:  Renewable Energy (Intro to Physical Science) Steve Merriman
Ecoliteracy (Biology 111) Scott Murdoch
Making Local & Global Connections through Needs Assessment, Values, and Sustainability  (College 101 course) Stephenie Presseller
Eco-Literacy Plastic Water Bottle Assignment (Developmental Math course) Craig Slocum

Greening Your Curriculum 202: Green Economy and Social Justice

Assignment Title Author
Air Conditioning Operational Cost Analysis and Customer Selection (HAC 154 Installation and Service Course) Stevan Brasel
Doing Stuff: Connecting to the Earth; Connecting to an Issue (Composition II course) Sheryl Bundy
Module Three-Social Justice (Composition II course) Joanne Bugyie
A Profile of a Social Justice Activist (Composition I course) Tamarra Coleman-Hill
“NIMBY” – “Not in my Backyard” (General Biology course) Dawn Countryman
Simple Interest Calculation On A Payday Loan (Developmental Math) Paula DeAnda-Shah
Considering Wal-Mart (Composition II course) Erika Deiters
Your Life: An Examination of the Subtext (Composition II course) Eric DeVillez
“Little Boxes on the Hillside, little boxes all the same?” (U.S. History II course) Josh Fulton
Approaches To College Reading (Reading 041), Organ Donation Writing Project Susan Godwin
Telling our Stories (Freshman Seminar course) Tish Hayes
Music in Context: Gangsta Rap and the LA riots (Composition II course) Bill Hogan
Immigrants: Should They Be Required to Learn English before Becoming Citizens? (ESL course) Ellen Leahy
Sustainability Project (Anatomy & Physiology course) Layla Khatib
GMO Debate (Biology 111 course) Neil Kirkpatrick
We’re Different We’re the Same (Language Activities and Development for Young Children course) Sue Langwell
Revealing Privilege (Introduction to Sociology course) Jeffrey McCully
Long and Short Term Effects of Fossil Fuel Use Group Presentations (Introduction to Physical science course) Steve Merriman
Green Jobs Investigation (General Biology I) Scott Murdoch
My Place in the Green Economy and Social Justice (College 101 course) Stephenie Presseller
Social Justice and Green Economy Group Assignment (Speech course) Michael Shannon
Behavior In Social And Cultural Context (Introduction to Psychology course) Young Shim
A House of Cards – Analysis of Enron’s disastrous marketing practices – a study of “Social In-Justice” or “The Marketing of the Weather” (Principles of Marketing course) Elzbieta (Liz) Valdis Kaczor
Is Agriculture Still Green? (Cultural Geography course) Dawn Wroble
Service/Activist Guide to an Issue (Composition I/ II) Mike McGuire

Greening Your Curriculum: SSP 203

Assignment Title Author
Vaccines and Society (Anatomy and Physiology II course) Dawn Countryman
Equality and the Distribution of Wealth (Developmental Math) Paula DeAnda-Shah
Our Personal Choices: A Closer Look at How We Affect Our World
(Composition II course)
Eric DeVillez
Information Literature for Service Learning Tish Hayes
My Contribution For This World To Make It A Better Place To Live (Chemistry I course) Ruchi Jairath
Sustainability using the Stanford Model Final Project (Reading course) Jennifer Lee
Phlebotomy for Healthcare Sustainability Assignment Stone