Home Lifestyle UNCP professor, alumna named as 2022 AASHE Sustainability Award finalists

UNCP professor, alumna named as 2022 AASHE Sustainability Award finalists

Dr. Scott Hicks

UNC Pembroke professor Scott Hicks and alumna Olivia Sadler are finalists for a 2022 AASHE Sustainability Award recognizing outstanding scholarship in higher education.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education announced that “A Survey of Environmental Attitudes and Knowledge of University Undergraduate Students for the Purpose of Faculty Development in Teaching and Learning for Sustainability” is among the finalists in the Campus Sustainability Research category.

The AASHE Sustainability Awards provide global recognition to the individuals and organizations leading the higher education sustainability movement. With the help of volunteer judges, this program raises the visibility of high-impact projects, pioneering research, and student leadership that helps to disseminate innovations and inspire continued progress toward environmental, social and economic health.

“I’m grateful to AASHE for this recognition, for it’s a confirmation of how UNCP can help students learn more about sustainability and take action on climate change,” said Hicks, director of the Teaching & Learning Center and professor of English.

“It’s even more rewarding because it shines a spotlight on undergraduate research and faculty-student partnership at UNCP, and I’m grateful to former sustainability directors Jay Blauser and Justin Duncan for funding Olivia as a student assistant for teaching and learning for sustainability.”

Finalists were selected based on overall impact, innovation, stakeholder involvement, clarity and other criteria specific to each award category. Winners will be celebrated during a virtual awards ceremony on Dec. 8.

A psychology major and member of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College, Sadler graduated in 2021 with honors. Completing this study helped Sadler learn what it means to conduct research and how to be a researcher.


“The work myself and Scott were able to conduct completely transformed my undergraduate experience,” said Sadler, now a graduate student in psychology at NC State University. “This study let my love for research flourish and gave me first-hand experience of research that still influences the work I do today while in graduate school.”

Sadler says the study’s conclusions show another way we can help our community through education. “The truth of the matter is that helping the environment helps people,” she said. “And education is one of the most powerful tools we have to provide that help.”

The article, published in “Sustainability & Climate Change” in February 2022, reports the results of a survey of 180 undergraduate UNCP students on topics related to the environment and sustainability. Because today’s students will confront the scientific and social problems of global climate change, it is vital that they graduate with ecological knowledge, environmental ethics, and civic skills to face the challenge.

This study helps researchers’ efforts to develop, implement, and assess efforts in higher education teaching and learning that seek to improve environmental knowledge and foster positive attitudes about the environment.

“The 2022 AASHE Sustainability Award winners demonstrate an inspiring passion for progressing sustainability at their campus. They are raising the bar and evolving what sustainability in higher education looks like,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser.

To learn more about AASHE’s Sustainability Awards programs, please visit aashe.org/get-involved/awards/.

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