TELI, the Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute, is a multi-day faculty development workshop that is intended to enhance faculty environmental literacy, with a goal of assisting participants to incorporate these themes into existing or new courses. The ultimate goal of the TELI program is to increase the exposure and knowledge of all Tufts students to enable them to effectively engage with the issues that will shape their generation. Emphasis is placed on recruiting faculty participants from a wide range of disciplines.
Past workshops have included interactive presentations by a variety of experts in the field of environmental science and policy, field-based learning experiences, access to a range of resources for course development, and opportunities to share creative teaching experiences with other faculty. For more information about the program watch the TELI informational video.
Colleen Worrell talking with Mieke van der Wansem at TELI 2008
|TELI 2012: May 21-25, 2012|
|TELI 2011: May 23-27, 2011|
|TELI 2010: May 24-28, 2010|
|TELI 2009: May 18-21, 2009|
|TELI 2008: May 19-22, 2008|
TELI Rationale and History
TELI was founded in 1990 by then-Dean of Environmental Programs Tony Cortese. The two-week workshop focused on enhancing participants’ general environmental literacy, covering topics such as ozone depletion, sustainable agriculture, water and soil science, environmental equity, and social justice. TELI initially had a five-year run, and was restarted in 2008 by Jonathan Kenny, a professor of Chemistry, and Ann Rappaport of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning with funding and support from TIE. The 2008 and 2009 workshops focused more narrowly on issues of climate change and climate justice.
From the beginning, TELI has been a workshop for faculty who wanted to incorporate environmental themes into courses across the curriculum.This desire typified the Tufts approach to environmental literacy for its students: rather than being forced to take one or two designated courses on the environment, they would be repeatedly exposed to environmental issues in courses ranging across all disciplines.
The concept of investing in faculty literacy on environmental issues was pioneered at Tufts.In 1990, TELI was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and grants from corporations. In part because of the corporate role, the program received an award from President George H.W. Bush in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.In subsequent years, programs to develop faculty literacy on environment and sustainability have been launched at other universities.The primary impetus for reviving TELI in 2008 to address both climate change and climate justice was the urgency of the issues: colleges and universities are ideally positioned to lead the development of solutions.
The rationale for TELI goes beyond subject matter – it enhances interdisciplinary collaboration.A study examining the long term effect of the 1990s version of TELI revealed that although faculty committed to work on only one course, half of those surveyed changed more than one course, and some changed as many as four.Many of these are the foundational courses of departments, enhancing curricular impact.The impact on research and interdisciplinary collaboration was also substantial.Collaborations in grant proposals and interdisciplinary teaching were reported by 58% of Tufts participants. Among participants in the 2008 and 2009 TELI workshops, 80% had plans to incorporate what they had learned into courses they taught.
If you would like more information about TELI, or are interested in being a participant in future sessions, please contact Antje Danielson, the Administrative Director at TIE.
Plans for the Future of TELI
Future TELI workshops will strive to create an opportunity to engage a critical mass of faculty from a wide range of disciplines and enhances the likelihood that long-term interdisciplinary collaborations will emerge.
An essential element of the long term plan is nurturing relationships with academics and decision makers in developing countries around issues of climate change and climate justice.Exchanges of scholars, opinion leaders, and students may facilitate the negotiation of global agreements on climate action that give equity a central role.One of the 2008 participants suggested collaboratively planning and implementing an emission reduction project in a developing country as part of the long term program.
 Peggy F. Barlett and Ann Rappaport.“Long -term Impacts of Faculty Development Programs: The Experience of TELI and Piedmont.” College Teaching.Publication forthcoming.
 Mahaffy, E. “Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) Program Evalution.” October 21, 2009.