Wednesday, December 6, 2023
  Faculty Focus

By Regina Perez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The 2023 International Center for Sustainability Across Curriculum Conference (ICSAC), held Nov. 11-12 at the Embassy Suites in McAllen, brought together UTRGV faculty for a weekend of learning and exchange.

Hosted by the UTRGV Office for Sustainability (OFS), ICSAC is a two-day faculty development program designed to inform educators about ways to foster sustainability in their curriculums.

UTRGV Provost Dr. Louis Zayas recorded a welcoming message that was shared with attendees.

UTRGV faculty
(UTRGV Photo from UTRGV Office for Sustainability)

“We know that not one single discipline has the solution to all our problems,” he said. “I think this meeting really recognizes how important it is to bring people from different disciplines, not just to be interdisciplinary, but to be transdisciplinary.”


UTRGV OFS graduate fellow Adrian Najera gave a presentation about Inner Development Goals, a global initiative exploring the development of skills and qualities in individuals as a strategy to accomplish the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Other presentations familiarized faculty with relevant resources and sustainability partners at UTRGV. Structured activities encouraged conversations among faculty about how to weave sustainability into their curriculum.

Dr. Immanuel Edinbarough, associate dean of External Affairs and Innovation at the UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science, said his students will be future engineers thanks to innovative coursework.

“I teach a course on product design where I infuse sustainability principles. So, when they think about designing a new product or process for the benefit of society, they can think about how to reduce manufacturing cost, minimize material use or recycling when designing a product,” he said.

Mario Bracamontes, the first sustainability administrator within K-12 in the Valley, held a keynote address at the event.

His presentation stressed the importance of infusing sustainability in higher-education institutions to continue the efforts of K-12 educators who are doing so in their curriculums.

“Our goal is to get students that are coming out of the UTRGV sustainability department employed. We are trying to get every school district in the RGV to follow our lead,” he said.


Raul Garza, assistant professor of Practice in the Department of Teaching and Learning, said his work focuses on the sustainability of the region's culture, history and language. 

“We focus on learning about natural history in our area,” he said. “There is definitely some intersection with environmental sustainability that could put me in contact with biosciences in the near future.”

To learn more about sustainability in curriculum, visit the OFS website for additional resources, or connect with UTRGV Chief Sustainability Officer Marianella Franklin at


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.