CMC sustainability professor picks up national award
Steamboat Springs — Colorado Mountain College associate professor Dr. Tina Evans knows firsthand how hard it can be to keep students in the right frame of mind when studying sustainability.
“A lot of the challenges we are facing are pervasive in many areas, and they are systemic,” said Evans, who has taught and developed sustainability courses at CMC since 2012. “It can seem like the changes we need are so big, it might seem daunting or overwhelming.”
Evans said she aims to keep coursework stimulating and rigorous but also maintain hope for students feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of working toward sustainability.
As part of her research into keeping students hopeful, Evans networks with other sustainability educators through the Hope and Agency Research Collaborative, and in 2015, she authored a paper detailing her studies titled “Finding Heart: Generating and Maintaining Hope and Agency through Sustainability Education.”
Evans’ work was published in the November 2015 issue of The Journal of Sustainability Education, and earlier this month, she was awarded the Campus Sustainability Research Award for outstanding achievements and progress toward sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Evans was among 220 nominees and one of seven award winners recognized by the AASHE this year for achievement, leadership or research.
Association Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser said the award winners were distinguished and hard-working leaders in sustainability.
“They are truly pioneering the campus sustainability movement, and their achievements represent big wins for our community,” she said.
Evans said she uses her research about maintaining hope and agency in the classroom to help develop curriculum for use at CMC.
She said sustainability students are more hopeful if they have opportunities to act through partnerships with community organizations, group interaction and internships.
“They need to have outlets to do things in sustainability and ways to engage with others through mentoring relationships and projects,” Evans said.
Another thing Evans has learned is to not hold back when teaching about the depth and the complexity of the issues facing the world today.
Since joining CMC in 2012, Evans has witnessed an increased interest among students for sustainability courses.
In addition to a certificate in sustainability leadership, CMC offers a bachelor of arts degree in sustainability studies in Steamboat Springs and at campuses in Breckenridge, Carbondale, Dillon and Vail Valley at Edwards.
Evans said about 300 students are involved with the sustainability program college-wide, including about 100 in Steamboat.
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