Todd Lawrence

Dr. Todd Lawrence Earns 2016 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award

The Center for Global and Local Engagement (GALE) Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) has awarded Dr. Todd Lawrence, Department of English, the 2016 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for his work developing and implementing sustainability components in his GENG672 Ethnographic Writing course.

Todd Lawrence

Todd Lawrence

This award, given every year, recognizes one St. Thomas faculty member for innovation and excellence in integrating sustainability into one of his or her courses.

Lawrence’s class, Ethnographic Writing, is a graduate course in which students create narratives about the relationships between residents and their urban farming traditions and practices in north Minneapolis. Throughout the semester, students developed their narratives by actively engaging with urban agriculture leaders through interviews and visiting urban agriculture sites.

The ethnography project emerged from a collaborative partnership between the OSI’s Sustainable Communities Partnership and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO), a local governmental unit interested in fostering “stewardship of the watershed with actions that promote civic ownership and responsibility.”

Lawrence's nomination said that, "Todd delivered uncompromised academic course content to his students while simultaneously generating useful and substantive data – particularly along the social dimension of sustainability – that assists MWMO in advancing their own sustainability-related goals.” His nominator also said that Lawrence's work is particularly innovative because it "exposes students to sustainability themes in a course that has not previously included these themes and, more generally, in a subject area that is not typically associated with sustainability.”

Students also remarked how the Urban Agriculture Ethnography project expanded their understanding of the role that writing plays in building community and that, prior to the project, they hadn’t really imagined that writing had anything to do with sustainability.

Previous Curricular Innovation in Sustainability awardees include Drs. Dalma Martinovic in 2013, Tim Scully in 2014 and Debra Petersen in 2015.

Please visit the OSI website to learn more about this award and OSI's work.