The Land Design Institute is expanding faculty and student activities in its first major focus area—sustainability—and building the LDI’s global sustainability network. This includes successful implementation of the network’s first global region network—Sustainability For The Americas (SFTA)—and its three funded consortia: The US-Brazil Sustainability Consortium (USBSC), the North American Sustainability, Housing, and Community Consortium (NASHCC), and the US-Brazil Universities of the Future Consortium (USBUFC). Each of these consortia is funded for four years by the U.S. Department of Education Fund For The Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) funding. This includes USBSC funding by FIPSE for the 2003-2007 period, and NASHCC funding by FIPSE for the 2004-2008 period.
The SFTA pursues an innovative model. This model integrates international experts, universities committed to sustainability, and local leaders to educate students to lead local and global societies to a sustainable future. It layers international sustainability experiences over the sustainability base students have acquired in their own university. It provides student immersion experiences, including international ones, applying their sustainability knowledge in local and international service learning projects. The model includes a program for sustaining funding through parallel academic (mobility) and project funding streams. It includes a nested sustainability curriculum that provides student access to the expertise of its international network of consortia partners. It uses Ball State’s Global Media Network and teleconferencing capabilities to provide introductory international experiences to a larger student audience and to better prepare Ball State exchange students to participate effectively in the program’s international collaborative local-global partnerships.
As part of the SFTA’s sustainability curriculum, LA498: Introduction to Sustainability was created and taught as a conventional classroom course to Ball State students in Fall 2004. In Fall 2005, the course was taught simultaneously to Ball State students and students of the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) in Porto Alegre, Brazil using the BSU Global Media Network and digital media classroom.
As part of the Sustainability For The Americas language preparation program, the SFTA created Portuguese 101 and 102 and is funding these courses as Modern Language offerings. These Portuguese courses, and Spanish courses Ball State was already offering, combine with FIPSE-funded saturation courses in the exchange country exchange, provide appropriate language preparation for Ball State students participating in SFTA exchanges. These saturation language courses usually occur in the partner country immediately prior to the exchange student beginning classes in that language.
The SFTA also includes an acculturation program. This program uses the Ball State global media network system and advanced digital classroom televideo conferencing capabilities to begin the student’s acculturation process long before the foreign study portion of an exchange.
Sustainability For The Americas includes information dissemination about the program and work produced. This program spreads the word about the SFTA through papers and keynote addresses at international conferences, papers at national meetings of professional societies, book contributions, and presentations in diverse contexts. These have included national or international level presentations in at least six countries and four continents.