Center for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Education

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Description and Mission of CELSE

The Center for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Education (formerly the Center for the Environment) has as its mission to provide opportunities to enhance student learning (K-16) and engagement in the areas of science, sustainability and environmental studies. The Center provides guidance, support and coordination of educational and community initiatives to help address Connecticut's need for an environmentally literate populous committed to living a more sustainable lifestyle. Through the Center, SCSU and ConnSCU provide educational experiences aligned with environmental and sustainability education, promoting cross-disciplinary initiatives; engaging in community outreach, and collaboration.

The Center is responsible for coordinating educational activities for K-16 teachers and students and the public on the SCSU campus and Outer Island, in Branford, CT. On the SCSU campus, the Center coordinates Plant it Forward activities at SCSU. Students, faculty or members of the public interested in learning more about the Center should contact Susan Cusato at 203-392-6610 or Cusatos1@southernct.edu. For those interested in scheduling an educational visit to Outer Island, please contact Vincent Breslin at Breslinv1@southernct.edu. (www.outerisland.org).

A Broader Perspective on CELSE

Southern Connecticut State University has a significant role in the preparation and professional development of teachers in Connecticut's schools. It also provides a diversity of other professional and liberal arts degrees. After graduation many of its students are employed and make homes in the State. It is the role of Connecticut's educational institutions to provide the knowledge and skills these individuals will need to live in a changing world. The Center will enhance the educational experience of undergraduate and graduate students by working with SCSU faculty to infuse environmental literacy and skills of sustainability in courses and programs. Through an inter-disciplinary and inter-program approach, students will learn to appreciate the importance of these skills for their professional growth and their personal quality of life, the environmental health of the State as well as society as a whole.

The Center will work with academic departments and programs to identify existing professional development courses and programs that can be targeted for educators and other professionals whose success is dependent on achieving environmental standards and educational assessments. There already exists a strong environmental community with ties to the Southern community. SCSU has one of the only four graduate programs in Environmental Education in New England. Alumni of this program are represented in formal and informal environmental education settings, the State Agencies such as the Department of Environmental Education and the Connecticut Department of Education, industries and non-profits, organizations such as Connecticut Outdoor Educators Association, Connecticut Audubon and Connecticut Science Teachers Association, Connecticut Science Supervisors Association, well as K-12 schools throughout Connecticut. The Center will work with these professional groups to design and help implement strategies for enhancing the environmental and sustainability literacy of our constituents. This will be accomplished by working with faculty to help develop inter-disciplinary course and program offerings and professional development workshops.

Objectives of the Center in Relation to the University's Mission

• CELSE will promote the integration of environmental literacy and sustainability education in undergraduate and graduate courses and programs

• CELSE will grow and expand university resources to better communicate SCSU's agenda of sustainability through the development of a University Sustainability Plan.

• CELSE will continue to enhance the quality and use of educational resources such as Outer Island, associations with informal environmental education centers and campus facilities.

• CELSE will engage university faculty in discussions and workshops to explore their own understanding of sustainability principles and their responsibilities as faculty to be role models and their obligations to support the university in its goal of sustainability.

• CELSE will develop strategies to bring together programs and units to develop strategies and actions, and to share resources.

• CELSE will seek external support for university initiatives and faculty research.

CELSE Support

SCSU is providing support for the existing Center for the Environment in the form of faculty-reassigned time and financial support for teacher group leaders on Outer Island.

This revision does not request any additional funding from CSU. At this point in time, no facilities are being requested. Faculty and department offices as well as university meeting rooms are adequate. As the university expands its agenda on sustainability, so will the Center. Any future considerations of additional support from CSU would be addressed as part of a formal review. Sustainability is everyone's job, and at SCSU, this includes the administration, management, faculty, staff, and students. The Center will seek external funding for a Director of Sustainability to coordinate the efforts of the units involved. Currently, the facilities unit is making significant advances in the area of energy savings, student organizations are demonstrating the interest in a greater role on campus and faculty are interested in integrating these critical concepts. To support SCSU's commitment to sustainability by 2050, a coordinated, centralized approach will need to be taken. Faculty and personnel will change, the curriculum will evolve and these efforts need to be collected, reported and archived for this goal to be achieved. At this initial stage, SCSU support and the goal of receiving external funding are adequate. The Center, requests that this topic be left open for discussions as the responsibilities of the Center are expected to grow and expand in the upcoming decade.