Sustainability Curriculum Innovation Grants

2021 Request for Proposals
Deadline: October 15, 2020
Questions: Aleta Weller,

The CSU School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES) is dedicated to developing, documenting, and sharing the knowledge needed to address global sustainability. SoGES was created to work across, within, and beyond colleges and disciplinary units to advance meaningful sustainability scholarship. These Sustainability Curriculum Innovation Grants are created in partnership with CSU’s SoGES and President’s Sustainability Commission (PSC).

Future professionals will both affect and be affected by sustainability’s global grand challenges, no matter their vocation. It is Colorado State University’s ultimate goal that all graduating students understand and appreciate the complex and interconnected sustainability concepts that define our global future. These Sustainability Curriculum Innovation Grants for faculty and instructors are focused on expanding and improving student exposure to interdisciplinary sustainability content in the CSU curriculum.

These grants will develop existing and new coursework that offer creative approaches to interdisciplinary sustainability content and elevate both the quality and quantity of student exposure to complex sustainability concepts. The grants also facilitate initial development of a sustainability curriculum toolkit for campus, which will provide a mechanism to share expertise and tools across colleges and courses. We aim to foster a better and more evolved understanding in our students of the sustainability grand challenges the world faces and how their future work may inform and be informed by these challenges. We seek proposals that explore innovative curricular improvements that will infuse social-environmental-economic sustainability concepts into CSU coursework, and that will develop useful tools and resources available to others wishing to do the same.


Awards will be in the amount of $1,000 – $5,000 each. Funds will be available beginning January 1, 2021 and must be spent by May 31, 2021. Awardees proposing to use their grant for summer salary can spend funds up until June 30, 2021.


Proposals from all colleges and disciplines at CSU are eligible, and these grants can be used to modify existing courses (i.e. modules, lectures, experiments) or to develop entirely new courses. Since we seek creative and inventive approaches to how sustainability expertise is integrated into coursework, we have left the criteria for what can be proposed intentionally broad. Proposals can be for courses taught in any major and department, and can be for:

  • Existing courses that do not currently connect to sustainability, but could or should. The proposal should articulate how the topic of the course has clear ties to sustainability and how the course would be significantly enhanced.
  • Existing courses with sustainability content that could be meaningfully amplified or better tied to other interdisciplinary aspects of social-environmental-economic sustainability concepts.
  • New interdisciplinary sustainability course development.

We seek proposals from faculty (instructors, researchers, tenured or not) from diverse perspectives, career stages, and approaches at CSU. Applicants from a broad range of disciplines, from any academic unit on campus, are encouraged to apply. Interdisciplinary scholarship is encouraged, and proposals may come from individuals or teams.

Proposals can be for any number of efforts that would allow the applicant(s) to improve sustainability curriculum, such as time spent on developing new course content, research of topics, collaborative efforts with others who possess different expertise, assistance with material development, or other endeavors that would benefit curriculum contributions.

Expectations of grant recipients:

Grant recipients will develop content to improve their own courses, as well as develop a relevant contribution to a new University-wide sustainability curriculum toolkit. Proposals will be evaluated in part, on the proposed toolkit addition that will have clear benefit to other faculty and instructors at CSU. Grant recipients will be required to provide an end of year report to SoGES, as well as be willing to participate in a potential future symposium on creative solutions for teaching sustainability.

Successful proposals will:

  • Clearly incorporate sustainability scholarship, considering social, economic, and environmental aspects. If the proposed work plans to add one of the three pillars of sustainability into a course that already pertains to the others, indicate that.
  • Articulate specifically how the proposed course will be improved. If the instructor plans to engage in research, training, or interdisciplinary collaboration in order to better understand and incorporate new content, successful proposals will have a clear plan for how that will be accomplished and the intended result.
  • Specify a contribution(s) to the University sustainability teaching toolkit. These could include: tools, videos, pre-recorded lectures, PowerPoint slides, discussion prompts, class activities, curated reading lists, sample test questions, essay prompts, or other ideas you may have that would benefit other CSU faculty and instructors wanting to teach a high quality integrated sustainability course.
  • Lay a plan for how this work could be applicable to improving other courses.

Priority will go to proposals with high impact to campus learning (such as large undergraduate classes and AUCC courses), have already identified partnerships and/or opportunities for synthesis with more than one CSU college, and that have clear contributions for a University sustainability teaching toolkit.


Deadline: October 15, 2020
Submit a 2-page, single-spaced proposal in PDF format online at Include the following:

  1. Short description. Summarize proposed work in a few sentences, written in third person, and in language that any technical or non-technical audience would understand. This will be used on the SoGES website and in external communications for funded proposals.
  2. Curriculum improvement. Tell us how your proposal will expand student exposure to social-environmental-economic aspects of sustainability and help students understand these interdisciplinary concepts that define our global future. Describe the course(s) that will be developed or improved and in what way. If your proposal is for an existing course, explain what is missing from a sustainability perspective and what should be incorporated.
  3. Tell us how it’s novel. Explain how proposed work will creatively infuse social-environmental-economic sustainability concepts into curriculum. Describe the innovative nature of your proposal, how it will help you accomplish something you would be otherwise unable to do, and how it is distinct from what is already taught.
  4. Toolkit contribution. Provide a plan for your University toolkit contribution. Include specifically what will be created, the intended audience, and how other faculty and instructors will be able to use what you develop.
  5. Plan of work. Outline your plan for how the work proposed will help you infuse these sustainability concepts into coursework. Briefly, include a timeline, any milestones, and metrics of success.
  6. Budget. Proposal should be between $1,000 and $5,000. Provide a budget and timeline for how funds will be spent. Example use of funds could include summer salary, spring 2021 course buyout, graduate student support, workshops, research, or materials. Funds cannot be used to increase the pay rate of a 12-month salaried employee.
  7. Appendices: CV(s) and course list. List the courses you taught in 2019-20, and those planned for 2020-21. Attach a current CV. Appendices are not included in the 2-page limit.



I teach a course that currently has nothing to do with sustainability, but I’d like to try and make the connection. Can I apply?
Yes and encouraged.

I want to propose something that is part of a larger existing curriculum development project. Is this possible?
Yes; but be sure to articulate in your proposal how SoGES funding support will add significant value beyond what will already be done.

How many grants will be awarded?
We anticipate awarding between four and six grants for 2021.

I am not a sustainability expert, but I think there could be a linkage between the content I teach and some sustainability concepts. Is that eligible?
Yes and encouraged. Be sure to be explicit about which sustainability concepts would add value to the topics you teach and why specifically it would improve your classes.

I am an instructor, and do not have a faculty appointment. Can I apply?
Yes. Priority will go to faculty (regardless of tenure) and permanent teaching staff. Unfortunately, graduate students are not eligible to apply.

How are proposals reviewed?
Proposals are ranked and reviewed by a cross-disciplinary panel of CSU faculty, instructors, and SoGES staff.

Is SoGES seeking proposals from the arts and humanities as well as from the sciences?
Yes, by design! Sustainability Curriculum Innovation Grants are open to faculty and instructors from all departments and disciplines at CSU. We seek applications from anyone at the University who meets the criteria for proposals. In your proposal, tell us how funding support could most meaningfully increase your ability to advance your sustainability teaching. Our goal is to propel faculty’s contributions to sustainability education; we rely on you to tell us how to most effectively do that for you and your field.

What in-kind support does SoGES provide that should NOT be included in the budget plan?
SoGES will provide in-kind support for meeting rooms, online hosting of resources developed, videography, video editing, development of communications materials, and other support as appropriate.

I am unable to use funds for summer salary; can I propose something else?
Absolutely. Our goal is to help you focus on interesting sustainability curriculum. Be sure to articulate in your budget plan how funds would help you best accomplish this.

Can funds be carried over to the next year?
No. Funds for each year must be spent in full by June 30, 2021 for summer salary, and May 31, 2021 for all other spending. There is no carry forward beyond June 30, 2021.

I have an idea that doesn’t quite match this RFP but would improve sustainability curriculum at CSU. Can I propose something a little different?
Ask us! This grant is relatively new and we are experimenting with how to best seed this type of work. If you have proposal that would increase student exposure to sustainability concepts, and could also include a contribution to a University teaching toolkit, we are open to your ideas. It would be prudent to first check with us to ensure your idea meets the basic requirements of the grant so it can be properly evaluated in the ranking process.