IonE Educators

UMN Professors and IonE Affiliates gathered with linked arms, looking upwards, smiling

To incubate and encourage innovative teaching in sustainability and environmental education, IonE will recognize three to six educators per year. As individuals and a group, these educators will advance best practices in sustainability instruction and curriculum development, and disseminate those innovations to the broader university and Minnesota community. IonE Educators are tenure-track faculty and instructional staff, including adjunct faculty when appropriate (IonE Educators may or may not already be an IonE Fellow or Associate.). IonE Educators are regularly engaged in formal and informal teaching. The cohort meets throughout their 15-month fellowship term to learn from each other.

During the 15-month fellowship year from December 2018 to February 2019, IonE Educators will pursue projects around effective pedagogy and curriculum development aimed at improving an existing course or developing new courses and educational experiences. Projects may address education for the general public or K-12 students. All projects will champion the need for diverse perspectives in solving today’s wicked and complex sustainability challenges.

During their fellowship year, IonE Educators will present on some aspect of sustainability education to the broader IonE community, and participate in the Sustainability Education Summit. The initial cohort of IonE Educators 2016-17 developed the concept of a systemwide conversation focused on generating greater collaboration and reflexive thinking in matters concerning sustainability education. The 2017-18 Educators cohort is furthering the Educator’s mission to advance innovative pedagogy and expand the sustainability community by hosting a multimedia, interactive, five-campus Summit on February 1st, 2019. Incoming IonE Educators 2018-19 will have the opportunity to participate in this year’s summit. and contribute to the design and content of the Summit, taking place in the Spring of 2020 and thereby completing the fellowship year.

Over time, alumni of the IonE Educators will form a dynamic community of educators who are united by shared objectives and benefit from inter-cohort communication fostered by the Affiliates network.

In addition to the benefits and responsibilities of all IonE Affiliates, IonE Educators will have access to a graduate research assistant who will help them in their focal project and receive counsel from IonE staff in the development and implementation of their focal project.

IonE Educators are selected annually in the Fall with applications due to the in September (2020 date TBA) with announcement of new IonE Educators by late October.

Individuals can apply by submitting:

1)  Letter of support from a department chair, dean, or associate dean (or similar supervisory role). (if none of these is available, please reach out to prior to the application deadline to find out what else could be submitted in place of this letter.)

2) Cover letter describing their environmental or sustainability education experiences; and goals and a description of the educational project or activity they seek to advance during their fellowship year.

3) CV highlighting the qualifications described above

Selection will be based on the potential for the proposed project to significantly advance sustainability education within and outside of the University of Minnesota system. IonE Educators are recommended by the Faculty Leadership Council with assistance from ad hoc reviewers and IonE staff. Consultation with IonE education/leadership staff about possible projects is strongly encouraged before submitting an application.

Read about the first two cohorts of IonE Educators here.

We will use the seven questions below to evaluate applications from prospective IonE Educators. Other factors also will be taken into account to ensure diverse representation in terms of disciplines, perspectives, objectives and backgrounds. Applicants’ experience in teaching or in sustainability-related fields will be considered as well.

Applicants should note in their application letter if there are funding needs beyond the graduate student assistant’s time and, if so, what resources have been identified to fund those additional costs.

We request that applicants obtain the support of the appropriate departmental representative. If an applicant proposes the development of a new course as the focal project, we understand that the departmental representative’s support is not equivalent to the approval of the course.

  1. How does the proposed focal project represent an important innovation or address an existing gap in established teaching? Why is this important?
  2. How will the proposed project benefit University of Minnesota students or K–12 students in Minnesota, and if relevant, research in sustainability education?
  3. How does the proposed project champion the need for multiple perspectives in solving complex sustainability challenges?
  4. Can the proposed project be completed in one academic year?
  5. What specific research and support will the proposed project require? How might the assigned graduate research assistant contribute to the completion of the project?
  6. How would the proposed project benefit from being affiliated with IonE?
  7. What potential does the proposed project have for impact beyond the duration of the formal affiliation with IonE?

Q: Are non-tenure-track teaching professionals eligible to apply?

A: Yes. IonE Educators have teaching as a core part of their professional work. We encourage applications from those who have both a history of teaching and ongoing plans to teach.

Q: Does the IonE Educator program offer funding beyond the graduate student’s assistance on the focal project?

A: No. However, IonE Educators may pursue other grants, such as IonE Mini Grants.

Q: Are applicants who are informal educators working in Extension, Outreach Centers, or environmental education eligible?

A: Yes, as long as the criteria above are met.

Q: Does the focal project need to have a research question and goals, such as publication?

A: Since education is the primary focus of the IonE Educators, research is not expected or required. However, education research may be part of a focal project.

Questions can be directed to Beth Mercer-Taylor or Mary Hannemann in Sustainability Education.

IonE Educators

  • David Syring
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Portrait: Elizabeth Hill
    Elizabeth Hill
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Science and Engineering
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Jane Wissinger
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Chemistry
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Katy Chapman
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Math, Science and Technology Department
    University of Minnesota Crookston
  • Linda Buturian
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Curriculum and Instruction
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Michelle Garvey
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Liberal Arts
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Portrait: Ned Mohan
    Ned Mohan
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Science and Engineering
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Paul Imbertson
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Portrait: Tiffany Richardson
    Tiffany Richardson
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Education and Human Development
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities