New online sustainability degree provides flexibility to students

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Sustainability Large

Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice uses the experiences of our past to plan for sustainability now and in the future with its new online format.

Dodd Galbreath, professor of sustainability and founding director, provided background on the program. “Almost 10 years ago we started this program from scratch,” he said. “Sustainability was a brand new profession. We launched it with a traditional on-campus experience. Now we are ready to export it online.” Sustainability #1

The new online format has been a long-term project, with its development beginning with the creation of the traditional course curriculum. “You could say we’ve been working on this for 10 years because we’ve been perfecting the classes on campus,” said Galbreath.

“We use the same curriculum that prepares alumni for very diverse careers in small business, corporate management, consulting, design and nonprofit management. Our on-campus faculty and experienced adjuncts use this same proven content for the online experience,” he explained. 

Sustainability students have the ability to control their learning experience. “Online students have a wider window to view lectures. They don’t have to participate in just a single four-hour lecture period or one weekend class meeting. They can schedule and digest the same lecture material in individual, smaller blocks of time that can be spread out over a weekend or weeknights before assignments are due,” said Galbreath.  

With live, interactive options and email functions embedded into the lecture content, students may obtain timely feedback from instructors and peers comparably to physically being in the classroom. But the flexible advantage inherent to an online format is distinctive to online students.

 “We have packaged material in five- to eight- minute increments. If you have a need to take your child to day care or to run out to a softball game while you’re watching your lecture or doing your homework, you can do it and get back to your work with much less re-review,” he said.Sustainability #2

“Our online course content is designed to offer more variety to be engaging. It also has to have a well-defined structure to be more easily navigated and efficient than an on-campus lecture,” said Galbreath.

Among the benefits of the online option is the efficiency of time. Online attendance allows students to reduce time invested in their commute to campus, packing up books and computers, and walking across campus. Galbreath notes that online content is clear, impactful and of the same rigor and expectations as traditional, on-campus classes. But the online option offers students a convenient option allowing them to keep up with the demands of a fast-paced life while lowering their environmental footprint.

“We’re essentially recycling existing content and existing space where the student already lives and works, all while maintaining and not extending their normal patterns of eating, travel and overall energy use,” he said.

The online format provides students the ability to attend class from almost anywhere.Sustainability #3

“With the advances in technology and the way humans now learn, it is practical for students to study and complete courses from a distance. With our online program, now they can,” said Galbreath. “They can take some classes online, they can take some on campus. They can do all of their classes online or they can do all on campus. It’s really whatever their preference happens to be.”

To hear more from Galbreath on sustainable practices, check out a recent episode of the podcast series Bison Talk. For more information about the Institute for Sustainable Practice visit the website. To learn more about the new online format, click here.