Project Sin Fronteras - A Project without Borders

The Project Sin Fronteras - Project without Borders (PSF) program laid the groundwork for UTRGV's 2016 designation as one of  thirteen centers nationally chosen to participate in AASHE's Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum program (ICSAC), which will continue PSF's legacy through an annual ICSAC conference. PSF/ICSAC establish a common goal for UTRGV curriculum and bring together faculty from all fields, allowing for an exchange of ideas that foster an enriching collaborative atmosphere on campus. The conference will continue to focus on the integration of sustainability concepts into syllabi, and trans-disciplinary faculty collaboration. It is open to faculty from all fields, both from UTRGV as well as faculty from programs across the nation - and the globe. 

Keep reading below for a history of PSF and its founding concepts. 


 

Project Sin Fronteras

PSF is a transformational platform with a focus on curriculum integration in reference to sustainability concepts and practices. Through this intensive two-day faculty development program, instructors develop an understanding of sustainable development as a tool to empower an educated citizenry to contribute to the development of a healthy, secure, prosperous, and democratic society. Many PSF alumni have introduced hands-on learning experiences to their classes, such as service-learning projects, which give students a holistic, systemic understanding of sustainability and a sense of civil service while improving something tangible in the world.

Since Project Sin Fronteras (PSF) was initiated, 55 faculty from eight colleges have provided over 300 sustainability courses influencing more than 5,100 UTRGV students. 

Read more in the Project Sin Fronteras Reports:

 

In late 2016, the PSF program led to UTRGV being recognized by AASHE with the designation of  "International Center for Sustainability Across Curriculum."  The annual faculty professional development conference hosted by UTRGV's Office for Sustainability in coordination with the Office of the Provost for Academic Affairs will continue to exist through ICSAC.  

 


 

The Project Sin Fronteras - A Project Without Borders Method

Project Sin Fronteras (PSF) has developed a strong record of helping participants change not merely what they teach but how they teach. Consequently, alumni of the workshops have reported significant changes in pedagogy. Student participation is essential to sustainability in higher education, and the current generation of students is engaged and eager to make a difference through planning, teamwork, and sacrifice. Providing students with opportunities to contribute directly to causes, raise awareness, and engage in conversation about sustainability is key to instilling those values in students and demands a commitment on the educators’ parts to active and problem-solving pedagogies. New assignments immerse students in investigative and reflective activities with the surrounding natural world and human-constructed environment, often pointing toward innovation and change. The kinds of fundamental changes in course content and method typical of PSF alumni reflect that this commitment is widespread at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Project Sin Fronteras has hosted sustainability-knowledgeable speakers from around the country, including curriculum development specialists and sustainability program organizers. They are individuals who have already participated in similar programs at peer institutions and who lend their expertise to faculty on the second day of the workshop. PSF workshops follow the pedagogical approach developed by its first speaker, Susan Santone. Santone’s approach to curriculum integration, “Inquiry as Narrative: A Process for Instructional Design,” guides instructors through the organization and use of knowledge as a tool to serve the basic premise of educating for sustainability: the development of an educated citizenry who contribute to a healthy, secure, prosperous, and democratic society. Santone is qualified to certify PSF attendees who go through a process to lead future PSF sessions themselves. A faculty leader, Amy M. Hay, received this certification from Santone, and provided the training to the next two PSF sessions.
Santone points out that curriculum integration is limited by the specialization that is often rewarded within disciplines. Meeting the demands of sustainability may require breaking from these confines; changes in course delivery, credits, program requirements, and the way educators are prepared should be organized based on the demands of the issue. This reframing is necessary to yield solutions that transcend disciplinary boundaries and address the complex nature of global problems.
To that end, Santone differentiates between two pedagogical approaches: inter/multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches. Trans-disciplinary, or “across” disciplinary approaches are more involved with issues of social and personal significance. They more often enact real-world change than multidisciplinary teaching methods, and better meet the ultimate goal of sustainability--healthy and democratic societies. Santone calls for these to become the goals of education as well, not standards or requirements. “Such framing would shift the discussion from integrating sustainability into the curriculum to integrating the curriculum to support the goals of sustainability.” Inter/multidisciplinary approaches cross and combine two or more disciplines in analysis of sustainable situations, but might paint a fractured picture of sustainability in that it is not applied; the demands of each discipline drive instruction in ways that don’t necessarily apply to finding solutions.
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