IonE Educators

A group photo of IonE Educators.

Institute on the Environment Educators Program

To incubate and encourage innovative teaching in sustainability and environmental education, IonE has welcomed three to six educators per year into our Affiliates community. As individuals and a cohort group, these educators 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 who have a special interest in effective pedagogy and curriculum development. IonE Educators are regularly engaged in formal and informal teaching. 

IonE Educator cohorts meet throughout a 15-month fellowship term to learn from each other and collaborate.During the 15-month fellowship, IonE Educators pursue projects around effective pedagogy and curriculum development. The program is constructed around individual focal projects, cohort community, and collective action. Educators are immersed in the cohort and broader IonE community throughout their fellowship. This immersion brings faculty and staff together from across disciplines and campuses, catalyzing novel insights into sustainability education. 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.

Focal projects have included improving current courses, creating new courses, constructing certificates or programs, and designing tools for educators to use for teaching sustainability. All projects champion the need for diverse perspectives in solving today’s wicked and complex sustainability challenges. For example, the second and third Educators cohorts furthered the Educator’s mission to advance innovative pedagogy by hosting a multimedia, interactive, online Sustainability Education Summit in 2019 and 2020 that reached all of the University of Minnesota campuses as well as online participants in many different states and countries! These Summits created avenues for disseminating the Educators’ innovations, and fostered connection and conversation amid the sustainability community.

Educators E-book Series

Cover images of three educator e-books

The IonE Educators have launched a series of E-books! This series of three E-books provides educators, students, and anyone passionate about the environment with stories about integrating sustainability and environmental justice into the classroom. The series focuses on the best practices in sustainability education, and offers forward-looking views of how people and the planet can best work together.

The first volume, written by the fourth cohort of IonE Educators, is titled Embodying Sustainability: Stories from Our Headwaters. This book provides stories from six different Educators, which each embody sustainability in their own unique way. In their chapters, Clement Loo explains the importance of casual, non-academic discourse in creating sustainable solutions for our diverse society and Kimberly Byrd offers a narrative story about how she came to understand the best way to teach species interconnectedness.

The second volume, authored by the fifth cohort of Educators, is called Nurturing Relationships with Nature. This is a collection of stories about Educators, students, and the environment working together in the face of climate catastrophe. Reba Luiken writes about how she uses intergenerational nature journaling in her class and Sheila Williams Ridge explores how she promotes positive relationships with the environment through her work at the Child Development Laboratory School. 

The third volume, created by the sixth cohort of Educators, is called Designing for Sustainability Education. This work provides insights from three different Educators on how they implement sustainability into their curriculum. Liz Sopdie investigates the intersection of community health and the environment with her medical students, Paul Bates outlines the redesign of his general biology course to emphasize environmental justice, and Teresa Bertossi explains how she uses connected, project-based learning to assess sustainability initiatives in her classroom.

Hear more about the e-books from contributing IonE Educators in the video below.

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, particularly underrepresented and marginalized voices, in solving complex sustainability challenges?
  4. Can the proposed project be completed in fifteen month term?
  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.

Q: What is the approximate time commitments to be an IonE Educators?

  • A: Over the 15th month period, an IonE Educator is expected to dedicate approximately 80 hours or 5-10 hrs per month. This time is split between individual project meetings, cohort gatherings, planning & participating in the collective event, and spent at the Educators retreat (late August). Educators may dedicate more time on their focal project.

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

 Educators Advisory Board

Linda Buturian
IonE Educator since 2017
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
University of Minnesota Twin Cities


Paul Imbertson
IonE Educator since 2017
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Minnesota Twin Cities


 

David Syring
IonE Educator since 2017
Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology
University of Minnesota Duluth


Katy Chapman
IonE Educator since 2017
Math, Science and Technology Department
University of Minnesota Crookston


Ned Mohan
IonE Educator since 2016
College  of   Science  and   Engineering
University of Minnesota Twin Cities


IonE Educators

  • Aparna Katre
    IonE Educator since 2019
    Cultural Entrepreneurship
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Bula Wayessa
    Bula Wayessa
    IonE Educator since 2021
    Department of African American & African Studies
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Clement Loo
    IonE Educator since 2019
    Environmental Studies; Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs
    University of Minnesota Morris
  • Daniel Nolan headshot.
    Daniel Nolan
    IonE Educator since 2022
    College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • David Syring
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Portrait: David Wilsey
    David Wilsey
    IonE Educator since 2018
    Humphrey School of Public Affairs
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Portrait: Dominic Travis
    Dominic Travis
    IonE Educator since 2018
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Jane Wissinger
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Chemistry
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Jessica Larson
    IonE Educator since 2019
    Studio Art/Humanities
    University of Minnesota Morris
  • Jessie Barnett Schimek headshot.
    Jessie Barnett Schimek
    IonE Educator since 2020
    Department of Public Health
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Katy Chapman
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Math, Science and Technology Department
    University of Minnesota Crookston
  • Kimberly Byrd
    IonE Educator since 2019
    College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Kristin Osiecki
    IonE Educator since 2019
    Center for Learning Innovation
    University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Linda Buturian
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Curriculum and Instruction
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Liz Spodie headshot.
    Liz Spodie
    IonE Educator since 2021
    Operations & Program Development Director, Rural Physician Associate Program
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Matt Peterson headshot.
    Matt Peterson
    IonE Educator since 2020
    Department of Entomology
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Michelle Garvey
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Liberal Arts
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Mindy Granley
    IonE Educator since 2018

    City of Duluth
  • Portrait: Ned Mohan
    Ned Mohan
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Science and Engineering
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Paul Bates headshot.
    Paul Bates
    IonE Educator since 2021
    Assistant Professor in Biology
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Paul Imbertson
    IonE Educator since 2017
    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Portrait: Scott Spicer
    Scott Spicer
    IonE Educator since 2018
    University Libraries
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Portrait: Shanda Demorest
    Shanda Demorest
    IonE Educator since 2018
    School of Nursing
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Sheila Williams Ridge headshot.
    Sheila Williams Ridge
    IonE Educator since 2020
    College of Education and Human Development
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Susan Craddock headshot.
    Susan Craddock
    IonE Educator since 2020
    College of Liberal Arts
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Teresa Bertossi headshot.
    Teresa Bertossi
    IonE Educator since 2021
    Assistant Professor and Director of the UMD Land Lab and Sustainable Agriculture Project
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Portrait: Tom Beery
    Thomas Beery
    IonE Educator since 2018
    Minnesota Sea Grant
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Portrait: Tiffany Richardson
    Tiffany Richardson
    IonE Educator since 2016
    College of Education and Human Development
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Tiffany Sprague headshot.
    Tiffany Sprague
    IonE Educator since 2021
    Minnesota Sea Grant
    University of Minnesota Duluth