Synergy of the (Campus) Commons: Integrating Campus-Based Team Projects in an Introductory Sustainability Course

Duke University

Publication Release Date: Feb. 8, 2020
Date Posted: March 4, 2020
Submitted by: Genevieve LaMarr LeMee
Sustainability Topics: Curriculum, Campus Engagement
Content Type: Publications
Periodical Name: Sustainability
Type: Journal Article


Faculty and staff at Duke have collaborated to teach a one-semester, introductory, undergraduate course on sustainability ten times over 12 years, including both theoretical and applied project-based content. This article describes the overall process and rhythm of the course, and provides a unique contribution by summarizing our process to accomplish on-campus sustainability projects where three- to five-person student teams collaborate with on-campus clients throughout the semester, researching questions posed by the client, and ultimately providing recommendations. The faculty/staff partnership on the instructional team permits five to six projects to be designed each year, with a much broader array of clients and authentic research questions than could be envisioned by an academic faculty member alone. Having a strong connection with the Sustainable Duke staff provides the trust with other staff on campus that project results can endure past the semester time period if warranted.