Tall Grass Prairie

The Tall Grass Prairie Project, modeled after the nationally renowned Ponderosa and Piedmont Projects promoted by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is aimed at seeding change that will be followed by curricular reform. Students involved in reformed courses will be engaged in sustainability across disciplines and the curriculum. Our goal is to involve up to 22% of ISU faculty in the project over several years, a percentage indicated by research to mark the successful establishment of a sustainability curriculum across an institution.


This grass-root effort is a ‘quiet revolution’ of an institution’s curriculum, initiated and sustained by faculty across disciplines. This approach leads to the establishment of faculty learning communities and, year after year, to the development of a growing community of faculty that are empowered to infuse sustainability into their courses.

This bottom-up project aims to provide faculty with a collegial and stimulating community and recognition for their efforts to integrate environmental and sustainable approach to curricula through yearly workshops involving up to 20 faculty members.

Faculty participants are committed to integrating one or more sustainability components into their course. The 2012 and 2013 workshops involved 33 faculty from four colleges who collectively modified the content of 29 courses enrolling more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The 2015 workshop engaged 18 faculty from five colleges teaching 20 courses to 2,400 students.

The philosophical foundation of the project is that faculty participants are the real experts and know best how to revise their courses: the project simply creates an intellectually stimulating environment that fosters creativity and professional development to integrate sustainability into the curriculum.

Examples of reformed curricular material include new courses, new readings, student projects, connections between courses, modules on sustainability in design, interior design, landscape architecture, animal science, civil and mechanical engineering, economics, out-of-class activities and service projects, and much more. Proposed changes by each cohort of faculty are estimated to impact more than 1,000 students in each academic year.


The project has been funded between 2012 and 2015 by the Office of the Provost, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Office of Sustainability, and the colleges and departments of participating faculty. 


For more information on the Tall Grass Prairie project, please contact Dr. Cinzia Cervato or Dr. John Miranowski

Live Green! Initiative

The Tall Grass Prairie project is affiliated with the ISU sustainability Live Green! initiative.