SCC Webinar

Teaching to the SDGs through Sustainability Action Research and Sustainable Business Curricula

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
2:00 PM Eastern/11:00 AM Pacific

Dann Sklarew, PhD

George Mason University

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 provide colleges and universities an unprecedented opportunity to prepare our students for careers that address a universally recognized set of global goals for humanity. But how can we effectively integrate the SDGs into our curricula? What sort of academic preparation should we provide?

AASHE STARS Gold-rated George Mason University provides a model for how curricula from general education through to graduate education address sustainability writ large, and the SDGs in particular. After introducing this university’s diverse means for engaging students in learning and acting to advance the SDGs, this webinar will focus in on to advanced undergraduate courses – one focused on sustainability action research, the other on business and sustainability – in order to model how the SDGs can bring pragmatism and shared direction into students learning in professional development. Specific lesson plans and their outcomes will be shared, along with discussion of how trade-offs and strategic integration across global goals help to advance students’ higher order problem-solving skills with respect to wicked sustainability problems. We will conclude with an exploration of how businesses and higher education may collaborate to prepare the next generation of leaders, professionals, and citizens to realize the SDGs’ bold and critical global vision for the next decade of sustainable development. For more information about George Mason University’s initiatives, please email:

Dann Sklarew is a Professor of Applied Ecology and Sustainability Science and the Coordinator of Sustainability Initiatives at George Mason University. His research and teaching focus upon realizing ecological stewardship and sustainability at personal to global scales. Initiatives have ranged from automating early warning of seasonal drought in sub-Saharan Africa to analyzing impacts of climate variability on Potomac River pollution and eutrophication. Dr. Sklarew has chaired over twenty graduate committees and served as the principal investigator for one million dollars in sponsored projects involving over 40,000 secondary school students, a national telecommunications company, Virginia’s most populous locality, and others. Dr. Sklarew contributions have been recognized with receipt of Mason’s Sustainability Hero Award, Teaching Excellence Award, Career Connection Faculty of the Year Award, and Jack Wood Award for Town-Gown Relations, as well as other local and national awards for teams of which he was a partner.

Through two successive roles in the Provost’s Office, Dr. Sklarew has been pivotal to Mason’s emergence as a higher education leader in sustainability. He created Mason’s “Green Leaf” catalog designation for sustainability-related academic programs and courses; co-developed Green Leaf courses; and spearheaded Mason’s joining the United Nations Global Compact and the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Reporting System (STARS). His co-authorship of Mason’s first sustainability report resulted in Mason becoming one of the first 40 universities anywhere to receive STARS Silver designation in 2011, laying groundwork for its achieving STARS Gold in 2014 and 2017. Dr. Sklarew also co-authored Mason’s first greenhouse gas inventory, its first climate action plan, and a cover page article in the Council on Undergraduate Research featuring his innovative action research capstone course for undergraduate sustainability studies.

Dr. Sklarew has developed and taught over twenty distinct lecture, seminar and field/laboratory courses. These span diverse subjects, such as Symbioses, Aquatic Ecology, Business and Sustainability, Environment and Development in Asia, and Applied Ecology and Ecosystem Management. Prior to joining Mason’s faculty, Dr. Sklarew served as an environmental management consultant for SAIC (now Leidos) and the Marasco Newton Group (now GDIT), then eight years as director of the United Nations’ project, “Global Environmental Facility International Waters: Learning Exchange and Resource Network (GEF IW:LEARN).” Dr. Sklarew received his bachelor’s degree in behavioral ecology from the University of Pennsylvania, his master’s in cognitive science from Boston University, and his Environmental Biology and Public Policy Ph.D. from Mason. He lives with his spouse and twin children in Fairfax, Virginia.

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