Professional Education – Archived

Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute

The Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) was a multi-day faculty development workshop with the goal of assisting participants to incorporate environmentally-related themes into existing or new courses within and beyond the Tufts Community. While operating, each year, TELI addressed an issue of major environmental importance.

TELI has evolved into a workshop for graduate students as “TELI-G.” To learn more about this interdisciplinary workshop, see this page.

Workshops were based on interactive presentations by a variety of environmental experts and field-based learning experiences, and provided access to a range of resources for course development. This combination was intended to facilitate discussion in order to promote creative teaching experiences among participants. Previous workshops have covered issues such as:

  • Environmental Communication
  • Urban Environment and Social Justice
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change

The ultimate goal of TELI and TELI-G is to increase the exposure and knowledge of selected participants to enable them to effectively engage with issues that will shape the new generations they teach. Emphasis is placed on recruiting faculty and graduate participants from a various Tufts departments to promote interdisciplinary collaboration on environmental issues at the university. For the first time in May 2013, faculty members from 10 countries were selected to join the conversation on One Health, signifying the beginning of a new era for TELI and the communication of environmental issues.

In the past years of TELI we have seen that TELI is more than an environmental literacy builder, acting as a think tank for current academics working on environmental issues from a broad range of disciplines. It is able to serve as a bridge between the research, education, and application of environmental issues.

To see more information about past TELI’s visit the links here:

History of TELI

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.[1] Among participants in the 2008 and 2009 TELI workshops, 80% had plans to incorporate what they had learned into courses they taught.[2]

In 2013, TELI was opened to participants from outside Tufts through the support from a USAID grant. 26 faculty from the health sciences from 16 universities across 10 countries in Africa and SE Asia participated, in addition to a few faculty from Tufts. A survey of the participants showed that TELI can be a valuable tool for both, network creation as well as engagement in interdisciplinary discourse (Danielson and Kaltsa, in press)[3].

[1] Peggy F. Barlett and Ann Rappaport. “Long -term Impacts of Faculty Development Programs: The Experience of TELI and Piedmont.” College Teaching. Publication forthcoming.
[2] Mahaffy, E. “Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) Program Evalution.” October 21, 2009.
[3] Danielson, A., Kaltsa, P., in press. Increasing Global Environmental Literacy via Faculty Experiential Learning. In Leal, W., Integrating Sustainability Thinking in Science and Engineering Curricula: Innovative Approaches, Methods and Tools. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg