Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

Conferences and Workshops

Sustainability Across the Curriculum
(A workshop for faculty at the University of Notre Dame)

May 20-21, 2015

Issues of environmental sustainability, ranging from climate change to resource depletion to pollution, will be a defining feature in the personal and professional lives of today's college students. No one solution, whether from engineering, business, or any other field, can address the profound challenges we face as a society. In order to educate our students in the type of creative transdisciplinary thinking that will address such challenges, we as a faculty need to challenge ourselves to reach beyond traditional disciplines.

The Sustainability across the Curriculum workshop begins to define and meet that challenge in a collegial environment in which every participant is both a teacher and a learner. The central concept of the program is that sustainability can and should be integrated in a pedagogically valuable way throughout the humanities and social sciences. The workshop will comprise presentations by faculty engaged in sustainability teaching and research, "brainstorming sessions" in which participants work together to creatively integrate sustainability into their existing or planned courses, and field trips on and off campus that provide exposure to the many opportunities for experiential education in sustainability in the South Bend area. 

This workshop is designed to provide a conceptual introduction to major sustainability issues and begin to establish contexts for pedagogical practice. All participants are strongly encouraged to use what they learn to incorporate sustainability into the syllabus for a course in 2015-2016 or 2016-2017.

Wednesday, May 20

8:00 – 8:30       Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 10:00     What should every Notre Dame student know? A planetary perspective (Jessica Hellmann)
10:00 – 10:15   Break
10:15 – 11:30   Panel Discussion: Teaching sustainability across disciplines (Elizabeth Capdeveille, Angela Laws, Donna Glowacki)
11:30 – 12:15   Reflection and goal setting
12:15 – 1:15     Lunch & Speaker: Teaching students to lead (Luke Gascho)
1:15 – 2:15       Economics, Ecology and Ethics (Ken Sayre)
2:15 – 3:00       Course revision brainstorm at round tables
3:15 – 4:00       The campus as a living lab: a green tour of Notre Dame (Barbara Hellenthal, Mark Schurr)
4:00 – 4:45       Tour of Notre Dame power plant and Q&A with Utilities staff (John Brown, Mark Hummel, Bob Werner)
5:00 – 8:00       Tour of ND-LEEF facility followed by dinner at the Pfeil Pavilion at St. Patrick's County Park (Aimee Buccellato, Brett Peters)
                                 Vans leave power plant at 5:00 PM and will return to Notre Dame by 8:00

Thursday, May 21
8:00 – 8:30       Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 9:30       Using learning goals & methodological approaches to teach an ethics of sustainability (Connie Mick)
10:00 – 10:30  Opportunities for community-based learning and research in South Bend (Therese Dorau)
10:30 – 10:45  Break
10:45 – 12:00  Course revision brainstorm at round tables
12:00 – 1:00     Lunch & Speaker: 2015: Pedagogical opportunities in a historic year (Rachel Novick)
1:00 – 2:00       Panel discussion: The meaning of sustainability in the humanities (John Sitter, Catherine Perry)
2:00 – 4:45       Field trip to Potato Creek; discussion of local environmental history (Jon Coleman and Annie Coleman)
                                  Vans will return to Notre Dame by 5:00 at the latest


Organized by CREST (Campus Coalition on Research and Education for Sustainability), the Sustainability Across the Curriculum Workshop is sponsored by the College of Arts & Letters, College of Engineering, Minor in Sustainabilty, Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy), Environmental Change Initiative, Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, and Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning.


Notre Dame to host multidisciplinary climate conference

March 13, 2013

Climate Change and the Common Good

The University of Notre Dame will host “Climate Change and the Common Good,” a national conference addressing the multifaceted challenges presented by our changing climate, on April 8-10 (Monday-Wednesday). The event will engage nationally recognized scientists, ethicists and strategists in conversation with students, faculty, administrators and members of the broader community.

As Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have stressed, climate change is a moral issue that calls for a concerted approach among people of good will.

“We know that climate change will disproportionately impact the poor and vulnerable, those who have contributed the least to our present energy and environmental crisis,” said Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., vice president for mission engagement and church affairs at Notre Dame. “By coming together as a community to learn about these challenges and the paths to solutions, we can better answer God’s call for us to be stewards of the finite gifts of our planet.”

Each day of the conference highlights a different theme. The first day focuses on the science of climate change. The second day addresses religious and ethical approaches to understanding our collective responsibility in addressing climate change. The third day explores practical approaches to addressing climate change from perspectives including public policy, national security and community adaptation.

Conference schedule

“Climate change is a complex problem that requires multidisciplinary thinking,” said University Provost Thomas G. Burish. “This conference will offer unique insight into the diverse array of approaches needed to adequately address it. I hope that many of us from the Notre Dame community will be able to take advantage of it and continue the discussions after it.”

“Climate change is constantly in the news: 2012 was the hottest year on record in the U.S., and extreme events from climate disruption are costing businesses and taxpayers tens of billions of dollars from fires, crop losses and storm damage,” said Jessica Hellmann, associate professor of biology and conference co-chair. “There’s so much negative information that it’s tempting to look the other way. This conference will help people make sense of what is often seen as an overwhelming problem by connecting the dots between science, ethics and practical solutions.”

Keynote speakers at the conference include:

David Archer: Professor of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago
Celia Deanne-Drummond: Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Bob Doppelt: Executive Director, The Resource Innovation Group
James Elser: Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Stephen M. Gardiner: Professor, Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society, University of Washington
Nancy Grimm: Senior sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Elizabeth Groppe: Associate Professor of Theology, Xavier University
Jessica Hellmann: Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
Jennie Hoffman: Adaptation Consultant, former Senior Scientist of EcoAdapt and Project Officer for climate change adaptation at World Wildlife Fund
Mike Keen: Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Indiana University South Bend
Daniel Misleh, Executive Director, Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
V. “Ram” Ramanathan: Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences,  Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Andrew Revkin: Author of the New York Times’ Dot Earth Environmental Blog
Andrew Rosenberg: Director, Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists
David W. Titley: (Rear Admiral USN [Ret]), formerly Chief Operating Officer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

“These speakers represent some of the leading thinkers on this topic, and they bring a wide variety of perspectives to bear on some of the most challenging issues of our time,” said Robin Darling Young, associate professor of theology and lead conference organizer. “Our goal is to engage Notre Dame and the broader community with this critical topic, which is so integrally tied to our University mission.”

The ND, SMC, and Holy Cross communities are welcome to attend and registration is free. Please register by March 29th.

“Climate Change and the Common Good” is sponsored by Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values, Center for Social Concerns and Environmental Change Initiative, and is supported by the University’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research, College of Arts and Letters, College of Science, College of Engineering, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Department of Theology, Institute for Advanced Study, Center for Sustainable Energy, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, School of Architecture and Office of Sustainability.

Contact: Rachel Novick, 574-631-1439,

Originally published by Rachel Novick at on March 11, 2013.

Archived Conferences