Certificate Update, Spring 2017


The Certificate in Sustainability has continued to experience strong enrollment growth during the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. As of February 1, 2017, student enrollment in the Certificate sat at 81 undergraduate students, up from 30 in August 2016. Students in the Certificate come from all different walks of campus, as they represent 11 different colleges and 32 unique majors within the university. Our students’ most popular home colleges are the Terry College of Business (17 students), the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (13 students), and the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences (13 students). In addition, our students vary in how far along they are in their academic careers: 55 percent have an expected graduation date during Summer 2019 or earlier, while the remaining 45 percent are between Fall 2019 and Summer 2020. We expect to continue to see a steady increase in enrollment as interest in sustainability work continues to grow across campus and the Certificate becomes more well-known.


New students to the Certificate in Sustainability are required to attend an introductory orientation session, which is held on a biyearly basis. On February 20th, the Certificate in Sustainability welcomed 45 students, faculty, and staff for its Spring 2017 orientation session in the Miller Learning Center. During the first half informational session, students were introduced to program requirements, capstone and portfolio projects, and a number of affiliated faculty members by the Certificate staff. Then, the Certificate in Sustainability introduced its first ever iteration of "peer leadership" groups and brought older students in the Certificate to participate. We finished the night off with wonderful food provided by Campus Catering and an informal networking session. Certificate orientation continues to bring together people who are passionate about sustainability from around campus and we look forward to hosting another session during the fall semester.

Peer Leadership

The Sustainability Certificate has recently introduced a peer leadership program to help provide academic advice and direction to students while also creating a sense of community within the Certificate. Students who are new to the “sustainability community” around UGA’s campus can benefit from learning about the various opportunities available to them, hear first-hand student experiences about these organizations, and discuss a core set of sustainability principles which can guide their choices. In addition, the program will incorporate team-building exercises and large group gatherings to encourage bonds between all students in the Certificate. Small groups of 5-6 people will be formed, consisting of two group leaders currently in the Sustainability Seminar and 3-4 new students. These groups will then be encouraged to meet for coffee, participate in “club rotation” activities where newer students can be exposed to different sustainability-related organizations around campus, and participate in an end-of-semester celebration. The program will be advised by a Student Leadership Council that consists of 3 experienced students currently enrolled in the Certificate.



The Sustainability Certificate is administered by Director Ron Balthazor, with support from the CICR Administrative Specialist, an undergraduate intern and graduate intern from the Office of Sustainability. This staff group met bi-weekly throughout the 2017-18 academic year to work through program objectives and establish program policy. The Director called a meeting of the Sustainability Certificate Advisory Board in both fall and spring semesters, and established a Review Subcommittee to oversee modifications to the program’s list of eligible elective courses. The first task of the Review Committee was to define the criteria for course inclusion (now listed on the website: https://www.sustain.uga.edu/page/29). The Review Committee will also periodically review the courses previously approved for the certificate. All approved elective courses eligible for certificate credit are listed on the program website.

In its first year, the Sustainability Certificate Program submitted the following courses to CAPA: FCID 4200/6200 “Interdisciplinary Sustainability Seminar” (Approved) and FCID 4500/6500 “Interdisciplinary Sustainability Capstone” (Awaiting UCC Subcommittee Review). Prior to fall semester 2017, adjunct status was requested and approved for Kevin Kirsche, Director of the Office of Sustainability, who co-taught the first ever Sustainability Seminar (FCID 4200) with Dr. Balthazor.

During the summer of 2017, seven of the participating schools and colleges contributed $1,500 each toward the certificate's annual operating budget. These units include the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Terry College of Business, Odum School of Ecology, College of Engineering, College of Environment and Design, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and School of Social Work. Over the course of fiscal year 2017, operating funds were used to purchase promotional bookmarks, cover operating expenses and supplies, provide partial salary to the Administrative Specialist, provide partial salary to the Graduate Intern, and bring two invited sustainability practitioners to speak on campus in April 2017. The FY17 operating budget was housed in the Warnell School, as a subaccount of the CICR account. Going forward, the certificate funds will be housed in the Office of Sustainability.


Advising for Certificate Students

A graduate intern from the Office of Sustainability has been training with the Director to advise certificate students. The graduate intern has been meeting with students to talk through the requirements of the certificate, courses to take, and capstone project ideas and implementation. In addition, the graduate intern is creating a advising document that can be used for the graduate student who will receive a graduate assistantship starting in Fall 2017, which one of the major responsibilities will be to advise students throughout their various stages of the certificate program.


Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate Proposal was submitted for the first stage of curriculum approval in November 2016. It has been approved by the Graduate School Program Committee, Graduate Council Committee,

University Curriculum Committee, University Council Executive Committee (on 3/1/17), and University Council (on 3/22/17). The Graduate Certificate will officially begin accepting students in the fall of 2017.

Discover Abroad Partnership

The Director met with Michael Tarrant of the Warnell Discover Abroad program to craft a partnership with their sustainability programs. An array of program were approved for the Certificate (https://www.sustain.uga.edu/page/23), many of which include 6 hours of credit that can be applied to Certificate requirements. This will encourage students who have participated in the Discover Abroad Program to consider continuing their sustainability studies on-campus, as well as provide further options for students to receive Certificate credit.

CICR/Affiliate Faculty event

In an effort to create a broader network on sustainability faculty and to facilitate interdisciplinary connections for research and service projects, the Certificate Affiliate Faculty met with the CICR Affiliate Faculty. We plan to continue to have these events periodically.

Capstone Workshop

In response to a student desire for more direction with capstone projects, the Certificate staff held a workshop on capstone development for Certificate students on April 11th in the CICR conference room. 8 students, along with the Certificate staff and a recent graduate, discussed broad topics that might be addressed with a capstone, crafted individual capstone ideas, analyzed individual strengths and weaknesses, and evaluated the feasibility of these projects. The Certificate of Sustainability hopes to continue hosting these workshops and encouraging students to attend them before they craft a capstone workplan and timeline.